Queensland Uni annual reports: the omens aren’t auspicious

The second tranche of Queensland university annual reports for 2022 is tabled in the Queensland Parliament.*

They are not awash with good news for this and coming years, unless domestic demand recovers all of a sudden and warnings about decline in enrolments from India turn out to be misplaced.

QUT student numbers up, a bit. Total enrolments were up year on year by just under 2,000 to 52,073, due to a nearly 3,000 lift in international numbers to 9,820 – domestic enrolments declined by nearly 1,000. The increase in internationals shows in the bottom line, with on-shore fee income up $67m on 2022. Staff numbers were stable, but costs were up $52m, to $660m, which the university attributes to a 1.2 per cent overall FTE increase and higher wage costs, due to increases in the recent enterprise bargaining round.

All up, QUT revenue and income was $1.188bn (up $184m) against expenses of $1.209bn (up $73m) for a net loss of $20.89m, compared to a net loss of $130m in 2022. The improved result was largely driven by strong returns on investments with the State Government’s Queensland Investment Corporation. 

However, the University also reports changing its underlying result calculation to exclude significant items, such as realised investment gains not used to fund core operations. On this basis, there was an operating loss of $86.9m or 7.9 per cent. (These numbers are not in the audited financial statements). 

Uni Sunshine Coast hopes for growth.

USC predicts growth in student numbers – it will come off a stable base, (17,800 heads and 11,400 EFT in 2023, both close to where there were in 2019). But locals are making up the numbers, with last year’s international enrolment (1,903), half of 2019’s. Staff count was at a five-year high last year, but not so you would notice, 50 up on last year, but at 1,145 just one more than in 2020.

Overall income was up $22m on 2022 to $368m, attributed particularly to consulting, contracts and investments but expenses increased $36m to $347, due to rises in staff cost and student recruitment, ”as the university strives to increase its enrolments and secure future growth.”

Operating margin was 5.7 per cent, $20.8m, down from 10.1 per cent, $34.9, in 2022.

Uni Southern Queensland student numbers down, again

Revenue was up just under $40m, to $378m, due in considerable part to an $11m lift in international student fees, but expenses were $382m, compared to 2022’s (restated) $348m, “largely attributed to additional investment in student attraction and retention activities and expenditure on external research projects.”  The 2023 loss ($25.8m) was inline with negative results for ‘22 ($25m) and ’21 ($21.4m)

All up, student load was down for the fourth straight year, peaking at 13 969 in 2020 and falling to 11536 in ’22.

Staff numbers were stable (1795) but $22m hike in staff costs to $253m, was “due primarily to the impact of the new Enterprise Agreement”  – which presumably means pay rises. Staff costs include $6m, “to provide for the estimated employee liabilities identified from a voluntary payroll review.” This may mean management discovering that they had been not paying people what enterprise agreements specify.  

Central Queensland U states domestic demand “stagnated”

CQU had a better year for international student revenue, up 76 per cent on 2022, to $133m but warns that a return to pre-pandemic numbers is slow. Domestic demand isn’t great either, according to the university it “stagnated,” (at 8960 EFTS) with revenue down $0.66m, due to “the strength of Australia’s post-COVID economy, with strong employment outcomes and jobs growth, together with cost-of-living pressures, reducing the demand for higher education.”

Overall spending was up $50m, half of which is wage increases in the new enterprise agreement and “increased teaching requirements for increased student load,” (sorry no idea what that means).

Total Income was also up, by $60m, to $479m, for an operating loss of $7.6m, compared to $24.3m in 2022.

* Annual reports for Griffith U, James Cook U and Uni Queensland were tabled at the start of April. FC reported them HERE.  



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