All OK in WA for as long as international enrolments stay strong

Annual reports from the state’s public universities demonstrate business as usual at UWA, while Edith Cowan U is looking good and Curtin U is big, really big.

Curtin U’s platitude-rich Annual Report reveals an institution of financial substance and plenty of it. Student headcount (61,000) is up on every year since 2019. In-country internationals are 8,500; 1,500 higher than 2019 and while the off-shore market is down 600 at 6,200 Curtin U has clearly maintained a balanced export business.

With staff numbers stable, the University appears set to manage growth, apart that is, from making a $12.9m loss on $1.097bn in revenue in 2023 compared to a $36m loss on $950m in 2022.

All up, Edith Cowan U had a good year, with income up nearly $200m on the previous year. This is largely due to a near $70m turn around on investments, to $62m; as well as $80m more in fees and charges, probably due to a “surge in post-pandemic demand” from international students. All up the university had a net result of $189m, up $150m on ’22.

But it’s all business as usual only until the university’s big bet on its move to the CBD pays off, or does not.  Project cost is $844m, of which $228m is already incurred.

Student enrolments at UWA were stable in 2023. CSP enrolments were down 3 per cent on the Covid years and in-line with 2019 at 13 400. While on-shore international were 26 per cent up it was on a low base, to 5 300 in ’23.

Overall the UWA group jogged along ok, with total revenue of $1.12nbn compared to $1.071bn in ’22. Much of the increase was due to a $44m increase in fees and charges, presumably much of which flows from the improvement in international student income. Despite increased operating costs, total expenses were marginally lower, due to no repeat of the $100m investment loss in 2022.

Overall UWA had a positive net result of $90m, up nearly $70m in 2022.

Murdoch U is looking better than once was, with a net result of $5.6m, an improvement of $42m on its 2022 loss, But the surplus was not much of a return on total income on $472m.

Fees and charges are a big part of the positive result, $83m up on the previous year.

Goodish results all over – at least for as long as international enrolments stay strong.

Previous premier Mark McGowan’s interest in merging public universities appears not to be shared by successor Roger Cook, but if the subject does come up, Curtin U looks like best suited to subsume one of the smaller ones and Edith Cowan is doing ok flying solo. 



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