Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF
10th Jun 2020

Australia: Updated modelling projects four-year loss of AUS$16 billion for universities

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • Updated estimates from Universities Australia project revenue shortfalls for Australian higher education could reach up to AUS$5 billion this year
  • This represents a significant proportion of direct spending by foreign students on Australian university fees, which accounted for 26% of all higher education revenues in the country as of 2018

Updated forecasts from Universities Australia project a financial impact of up to AUS$16 billion for the nation’s universities through 2023 (US$11.2 billion).

The estimate is based on new four-year models from the peak body that examine the downstream effects of COVID-19-related enrolment shortfalls this year.

Loss projections for 2020 have also been updated and Universities Australia now anticipates lost revenue of between AUS$3.1 billion and AUS$4.8 billion for the current year. This compares to earlier forecasts that estimated the 2020 shortfall at between AUS$3 billion and AUS$4.6 billion.

Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said the new four-year modelling underlines the sustained effect of COVID-19 on university finances, not just in 2020 but in the following years as well.

Speaking to SBS News, Ms Jackson outlined the thinking behind the updated impact models. The immediate issue, she explains, is that current restrictions on international travel will prevent students from beginning their studies in July, which is when the second semester of the Australian academic year gets underway.

“Almost half of international students start in the second semester, so they haven’t started yet, and it’s now clear they won’t be able to get into the country, so that’s a whole cohort of students who won’t start,” she said.

“So, a first-year who doesn’t start this year is a second-year who won’t be here next year and a third-year who won’t be here the year after. This is not a one-year problem for universities. It’s a two, three, or even four-year problem.”

Australian Bureau of Statistics data puts the total economic impact of international education at AUS$37.6 billion as of 2018/19 (a period doing which total education export revenues increased by AUS$5 billion over the year before). Roughly AUS$27 billion of that value is in the form of direct spending on tuition and other student fees.

Related data from the Australian Department of Education and Training notes that higher education institutions accounted for 46% of all foreign enrolments in Australia in 2019 (with an international student base of nearly 760,000 that year).

And another recent study from the Australian Population Research Institute points out that, “Overall, total Australian university overseas student fee revenue more than doubled from 2012 to 2018, increasing from AUS$4.1 billion in 2012 to AUS$8.9 billion in 2018. By 2018, this revenue amounted to 26% of total university revenues.”

This puts the prospect of a shortfall of up to AUS$4.8 billion (this year alone) in rather stark relief. Those recent-year data points highlight that the upper end of the Universities Australia projection for 2020 represents a significant share of total foreign student spending at Australia’s higher education institutions.

“We can’t pretend that won’t have a big impact,” said Ms Jackson. “Not only does that revenue support the staff and facilities to educate the next generation of skilled workers, it also pays for much of the research and innovation that keeps Australia internationally competitive.”

For additional background, please see:

Most Recent

  • The impact of immigration settings, affordability, and job opportunities on international students’ study abroad decisions Read More
  • Hong Kong needs to build more student housing Read More
  • ChatGPT for international education marketing: What is “Prompt Engineering?” Read More

Most Popular

  • Canada’s foreign enrolment grew by more than 30% in 2022 Read More
  • Measuring cost of study and cost of living across study destinations Read More
  • Recruiting in the Emirates: Big goals, world-class education, and new scholarships Read More

Because you found this article interesting

Hong Kong needs to build more student housing In his October 2023 address, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee set out some ambitious goals for the...
Read more
Canadian immigration minister releases official cap figures and targets for 2024 In many respects, the implementation of Canada’s newly established cap on international student enrolment has been shrouded in...
Read more
Australia: Record-high foreign enrolment but tighter immigration settings now taking hold The Australian government has further increased its scrutiny of international student applicants in an effort to ensure incoming...
Read more
Business school survey again signals declining non-EU enrolment in UK The most recent survey from the Chartered Association of Business Schools in the UK reveals that, “International student...
Read more
US study visa refusals reached record levels in 2023 More than a third of prospective international students applying to study in the US last year were turned...
Read more
Canada: More provincial cap numbers announced; IRCC moves up end date for post-graduate work for partnership programmes Since the Canadian government’s announcement in January that it would be capping the number of new study permits...
Read more
Canada: Ontario’s cap implementation plan allocates nearly all study permit applications to public colleges and universities On 26 February 2024, the Government of Ontario – Canada’s most-populous province and host to just over half of...
Read more
New Zealand’s international enrolment continued to recover in 2023 New Zealand’s international education sector welcomed significantly more students in 2023 than in 2022, according to data released...
Read more
What are you looking for?
Quick Links