The Conversation, and other media, are carrying the story today of the cuts at the University of Sydney. Basically, what’s been announced is that they are to cut staff costs by $53m (7.5%) by reducing academic and general staff. The underlying causes are a need to make investments in buildings maintenance and IT systems, and because the forecast for student fee income was too optimistic - with domestic students deferring and a drop in international students. (As I’ve previously noted, across Australia generally, the forecast is for international students to be down by 23% this year.)

For the last few months, it’s been clear that there’s a perfect-storm of circumstances which will impact upon higher education in Australia:

  • Changes in the way that research is funded and reported
  • A drop in the new international students arriving
  • Lifting of the cap on student numbers, as a result of the Bradley Report, which leaves universities free to expand and compete more vigorously

With all of these changes, I’d expect to see more changes in individual universities, as the impact bites. And a increased focus on value for money of projects and investments.

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