University bailout must come with strict conditions

As reported by Sky News above, Australia’s university sector is demanding a taxpayer bailout to help them overcome the financial shortfall left from the decline in international students.

This comes as new modelling by Universities Australia suggests Australian universities could stand to lose $16 billion by 2023, including between $3.1 and $4.8 billion this year alone.

Indicative of the above, La Trobe University is at risk of going broke in a matter of weeks, while its Vice-Chancellor continues to earn a massive salary:

La Trobe’s cash reserves have been reduced to the minimum required to meet a single month’s operating expenses as it grapples with the loss of overseas students because of the coronavirus crisis…

Professor Dewar denied the university had been unsuccessful in securing credit and said negotiations were continuing with the banks…

A quarter of the university’s 2019 revenue came from overseas students…

Hannah Robert, a law lecturer… said there was anger in Tuesday’s meeting at the refusal of university management to entertain larger salary cuts for executives. Professor Dewar has accepted a 20 per cent cut. He was last year paid between $970,000 and $980,000…

Higher education expert Andrew Norton, of the Australian National University, said La Trobe was in a “wobbly situation’’ before the pandemic because it was struggling to attract domestic students and had lost prospective students to free TAFE courses.

MB’s view is that this crisis is largely of the universities’ own making. They should never have built a model that relies so heavily on international students, especially from China.

This growth in international students was always unsustainable and absurd:

As was the growth in international student tuition fees, which universities have blown on bloated bureaucracies, research aimed at propelling universities up international rankings (in order to gain more international students), and shiny new buildings:

Any taxpayer bailout of universities must come with strict conditions, including:

  • An increase in English-language requirements to enter courses in order to improve student quality;
  • Increased financial requirements to ensure international students can support themselves;
  • Requirement to deliver educational and research activity relevant to Australian domestic students and to Australian industry needs;
  • Increased teaching staff-to-student ratios;
  • Pay caps on administrator pay (e.g. VC salaries capped at $500,000); and
  • Expunging ties to the Chinese Communist Party, including shutting down Confucius Institutes.

The federal government should also launch a royal commission into the sector, examining the universities’ dependence on international students, entry and teaching standards, government funding, corruption, etc.

Leith van Onselen


  1. happy valleyMEMBER

    Stuff a taxpayer bailout for unis – John Howard untethered them and said they could charge whatever they liked, which they have done and benefited richly from. Suck it up?

    • Exactly. They are another private institution that engaged in reckless practices to maximise profits. None of this corporate welfare with half-arsed provisos that will be ignored to further maximise profits. Let them fail now.

    • kannigetMEMBER

      All those years of endlessly increasing foreign students and they didnt make enough reserves to last 6 months in a down turn….

      Must be academic economists and accountants in charge and not real ones…

  2. The BystanderMEMBER

    Maybe sack 10% of the administrators who seem to do little but add more useless ‘compliance’ paperwork and diversity ‘training’ to the already busy lives of researchers and academics?

    • Sounds like you need to become “culturally competent”. Have you considered one of the great new courses to help you meet your compulsory staff indoctrination targets like the one below? In that way you could identify that opposition to such Stasi-like re-education is a micro aggression and part of a racist agenda that opposes the moral crusade of universities that only happen to have a business model predicated upon overseas students written into the KPIs and performance bonuses of exec staff. If you do one the university will give you a piece of paper and a qualification – because that’s what universities do these days…give out pieces of paper to those towing the ideological line. To others (including students) you get suspended or otherwise gagged.

      Re-education has always been a big part of the agenda for the CCP. Millions go to camps, but you can go on campus or complete modules on-line! Hows that for progressive! Because breaking rocks and being starved to death behind barbed wire is sooo 20th century.

      Oh, another complete coincidence is the presence of the Confucius Institute on campus. If that causes you concern it is a sign that you are a proto-racist in need of help.

      Australian universities are clearly run by people concerned with free speech and challenging dogmas – so long as you do that off campus.

        • It has crossed the line from shocking to self-parody. Smart people are not naturally moral and can be led like sheep to do some evil things. Whether it is the political excess of the Left or Right we always see a small cabal of elites driving an ideological agenda that serves their interests. Australian universities have been totally captured by the alignment of ideology with commercial opportunism driven by an intellectually bankrupt form of propaganda. It’s well past shocking as it’s so “in your face” that your first reaction that this is dangerous turns to laughter when you see how contrived, pathetic and biased it is.

          But this is the Australian model of deregulation and privatisation that is seen as ‘innovation’. This is what we sought. Deregulation of the university sector has deregulated truth.

          To make a corporation turn on the people and corrupt everything it claims to stand for, you need to find an immoral and self interested leadership that cares for self interest.

        • I still think calling it CCP must be some sort of rebellion from within HR. I see the 1 token guy in HR having his own quiet battle with this dangerous ideology. I can only dream.

  3. And what benefit to the country was there had educating the world over local residents?

    No bailout from Tax payers, because the locals never got the benefits, foreigners did.

    Downsize your operations, cut costs.

  4. No taxpayer bailouts
    You can add revoking work rights from international student visa too, that’s one of the most important changes that must be taken towards reforming the corruption.

  5. Another condition, free uni for Australians. If we are all paying, let’s get something back.

  6. From today’s Campus morning mail.
    ‘Peter Coaldrake becomes a commissioner of the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency. The former QUT VC is the author of the well-regarded review of HE provider category standards, adopted as the basis of Commonwealth policy.’

    Coaldrake review is worth a read to see what Tehan might do.

    One of things that stands out for me is that universities by definition must do research in areas in which they teach and it should be world class research to count. This make it harder to put research in institutes away from undergraduate students. I think that is a good thing. It is harder for KPI driven VCs to game the system. It also means hopefully more support for staff doing teaching and research.

    • Won’t the unis just move to a 2 tier ‘teaching only’ ‘research only’ academic staff classification setup.

    • Anything is possible, but the principle the report pushed is that a university by defintion does both and these activities should not be seperated. Having a research only professor surrounded by teaching only staff (usually more junior) is not in the spirit of the report. I would have to read it again to see if it is also explicitly condemned.

    • That is when the rot started, in 1987. The worst aspect was turning almost every college of advanced education and institute of technology into a university, which would be much more expensive because of the need to do research and give advanced degrees. We ended up with 41 universities, a ridiculous number for a country with Australia’s population, and completely unaffordable. I don’t know if huge numbers of international students were part of the plan from the beginning or just hiding unemployment among Australia’s young people.

      • Would these include Central Queensland, South Queensland, and Charles Sturt Unis? or even the University of Canberra? (names selected from institutions unfortunate enough to have been highlighted on

        • Yes, all of them were colleges of advanced education (CAEs), institutes of technology, or similar institutions. The University of Central Queensland was formerly the Capricornia Institute (a CAE). South Queensland University was formerly the Queensland Institute of Technology. The University of Canberra was the Canberra CAE. Charles Sturt University was the Mitchell CAE.

          There are a number of others that were turned into universities or amalgamated with existing universities.