Victorian university annual reports: better but not great

Reports for 2023 were tabled in State Parliament this week. Overall results demonstrate universities are recovering from the Pandemic, but there are problems ahead unless enrolments keep improving – new enterprise agreement pay rises have to be funded somehow.  

Deakin U

The consolidated underlying net result was a $92m deficit, $27m worse than in 2022.

Total revenue was $1.318bn, 10 per cent up year on year. A $73m increase in course charges, “predominantly” from on-shore internationals was a big contributor. However, total enrolments (people not EFTS) was stable on 2022, at 50,850. Consolidated staff costs were up 13 per cent, to $804m. 2022 total operating income was still $45m lower than pre Covid 2019.

Federation U recorded an $80.9m loss on $295m income, up from a $41m deficit in 2022. It attributes the result in part, to “the slow return in international students” and “the decline in domestic student numbers.”

La Trobe U

Total student headcount was 36,100 last year – still 2,500 short on the last full year pre-Covid, but there was a 1,500 increase on 2022 and commencements were strong; 15,500 compared to 14,600 in 2019.  International enrolments (reported as EFTS) totalled 6,500, well up on 4,600 in ’22.  The 6 per cent increase in operating revenue, to $866m, was driven by student starts, “reflecting an overall upward market trend.” But despite the good news, LTU just broke even, reporting a $3m net surplus with an underlying loss of $22m. The surplus is largely down because of a $40m bequest booked in 2022.  

Monash U

The overall result for the entire Monash Group was an underlying net loss of $145m on revenues of $3.281bn, up $400m on ’22. However, this was driven by a loss on net investment funds, with an operating result of $33m in the black. 

Staff headcount was marginally up on ’22 to just short of 10,500, but costs increased $200m to $1.674bn.

Student headcount on Australian campuses was 74,880; just 100 down on 2019, however

in a separate statement to staff university management warned, “in order to return to something like a normal financial performance, akin to what the University achieved in 2019 … we need to further strengthen revenue growth through initiatives aimed at increasing student enrolments.”


Student headcount across RMIT’s five Australian teaching areas and overseas operations was marginally better (91,500) in 2023 than ’22, but still down on the 96,000 on ’21. RMIT states 2023 provided the first increase in international student revenue in four years and a strong performance in South East Asia reduced the impact of inflation and the “ongoing effects” of the pandemic.

Consolidated income was up $160m to $1.623bn and expenditure increased  to $1.635bn, for an after-tax deficit of $11m, a $16m improvement on ’22.   

Swinburne U reports a positive net result of $24m, a turn-around from a $42m loss in 2022. 2023 revenue was nearly $140m up on 2022, mainly due to a $70m increase in fee and charge income and investment income turnaround from a $31m loss in ’22 to earnings of nearly $30m last year. Staff costs increased from $377m in ’22 to $416m last year.

The university had a good year for enrolments with commencing EFTS (11,600) well up on ’22 (9,200). International EFTS were up 1500 on ’22, to 19,500.

Victoria U

Total HE enrolments continued to increase from 28,500 in 2020 to 34,200 last year but load expressed by EFTS was relatively stable, increasing from 21,100 (’20) to 21,800 (’23). VET load declined over the period, from 7,000 to just under 5,700. However, an increase in international students, “strongly driven by our offer in early childhood education” was the major driver for a 27 per cent overall increase in revenue, to $583m. However, there was an $18m net operating deficit, created in part by one-off staff costs related to a “transformation program.” The underlying net deficit for the VU Group was $40.8m

University of Divinity

Enrolments fell from 562.9 EFTS in ’22 to 487.9 in ’23. The University had an operating loss of nearly $1.3m on revenues of $12.9m

University of Melbourne

Student enrolments, expressed as EFTs bounced around by not much through the pandemic and at 53,900 last year, were 500 or so less than in 2019. Internationals, which the university states as a percentage were at a 5 year high of 45 per cent; 1 per cent higher than in 2019. However, staff have increased and at 10,514 in 2023 are exactly 1000 more numerous than in ’19.

Operating income last year was $2.893bn for a $71m operating loss, which includes discretionary financing, endowment income and infrastructure grant. This was $33m less than in ’22 and is “primarily due to student numbers approaching pre-pandemic levels, largely driven by the return of internationals.” Expenditure is up as a result of increased teaching and research costs, wage increases and inflation. Staff costs (higher pay and more people) were 11 per cent up in ’22.

The results are in line with a strategy for “a phased return to financial stability”.



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