On the resilience of Australian public universities: why our institutions may fail unless vice-chancellors rethink broken commercial business models

James Guthrie*, Martina K. Linnenluecke, Ann Martin-Sardesai, Yun Shen, Tom Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


COVID-19-related public health measures have severely impacted the Australian higher education system (AHES). This paper examines the resilience of the AHES, particularly its past reliance on onshore international students to generate revenue that cross-subsidises operational and research expenses. By our measure, ten universities are at risk of financial default. With a different approach on the part of the Government and university leadership, surplus monies could have contributed to building a more resilient AHES. Our findings correct widely held misconceptions about the state of the AHES and aim to provide valuable learnings to individual universities and the sector more broadly.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages33
JournalAccounting and Finance
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Sep 2021


  • Accounting
  • Australian public university system
  • Business models
  • Financial ratios
  • Neoliberal
  • New public management
  • Resilience

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