Media release: Universities 2019 audits

The Auditor‑General of New South Wales, Margaret Crawford, released a report today on the results of financial audits of NSW universities for the year ended 31 December 2019.

All ten NSW universities received unqualified audit opinions. The 2019 financial results for universities are reported as at 31 December and reflect results from operations before the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic.

The combined revenues for all NSW universities increased by $381 million to $11.4 billion in 2019, driven by increases in student revenues. Revenue from overseas students continued to grow faster than that from domestic students and contributed $3.6 billion in course fees to NSW universities in 2019.

Overseas students from the top three countries of origin, being China, India and Nepal, represented 72.4 per cent of all enrolments of overseas students and 65.4 per cent of all overseas student revenues for 2019. Revenue from students from these three countries comprised 40.9 per cent of total student revenues for all NSW universities, creating a considerable concentration risk for NSW universities.

The COVID‑19 pandemic may significantly impact the financial results of NSW universities in 2020. NSW universities provided data on COVID‑19 impacted student enrolments for semester one 2020. Overall numbers of student enrolments in semester one 2020 were 5.8 per cent beneath projections. Overseas student enrolments were 13.8 per cent beneath expectations and domestic student enrolments were 2.4 per cent below expectations.

The report makes recommendations to the NSW universities, aimed at strengthening controls over information technology, cyber security, validating published performance information, procurement practices and the oversight of their overseas controlled entities' legal and policy compliance functions.

Further information

Please contact Ian Goodwin, Deputy Auditor-General on 9275 7347 or by email