More job, course cuts tipped as a result of coronavirus border closures5th May 2021
Professor Norton said universities would really feel the pinch if the government did not renew its research funding in the May 11 federal budget and international students remained unable to enter Australia.
“I think given where the international student numbers are going, it has to get more difficult for all of them this year compared to last year,” Professor Norton said. “Probably next year [will be] even worse depending on how the budget goes next week.
“For this year the blow has been softened a bit, particularly for the research-intensive universities, by the [government’s] $1 billion extra for the research support program.
“But we don’t know yet whether that will continue on into 2022.”
Professor Norton said universities would have lower staff costs in 2021 after sacking large numbers after the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020.
Education is Victoria’s number one services export. The freeze on international students and the federal government’s decision to deny the sector its wage subsidy scheme, JobKeeper, has led to the biggest crisis in higher education in decades.
The federal government, in turn, has criticised the sector for becoming overly reliant on international students, who are charged higher fees than domestic students.
Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge last week dampened the hopes of universities and schools by warning he was in no hurry to accept more arrivals as coronavirus rages overseas.
Monash University, Victoria’s biggest university, defied the trend by increasing its annual surplus to $267.3 million, but has forecast deficits in coming years.
“The ongoing uncertainty of 2021, the pipeline effect of fewer enrolled students, combined with a predicted further decline in commencing international student enrolments over 2022 and 2023, is anticipated to produce further deficits in the coming years,” wrote vice-chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner.
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