More than a month ago, based on university financial statistics, I predicted that:
Commonwealth-supported undergraduate enrolments actually went down for the third year in a row, and all the growth was generated in the full-fee market.
The student statistics have now been released. These were very hard to analyse, because DEST has changed the way the data is presented, and added in the new private providers.
A declining number of Commonwealth-supported students was one reason why revenue growth for them was low, but I wrongly thought undergraduate numbers were to blame. In full-time equivalent numbers (eg two half-time students would be counted as one full-time equivalent) undergraduates increased by 235. But with postgraduate Commonwealth-supported places down by 760, there was a net decline overall of 525 or 0.13%.
I was right however that the stronger growth was in the full-fee domestic undergraduate market, up by 34.1%. However, most of the increase was due to enrolments in the private higher education providers whose students are now entitled to a FEE-HELP loan. Take them out of the calculation and the growth rate drops back to 7.42%. In the fee-paying postgraduate coursework market things were very tight despite the extension of FEE-HELP, only a 1.26% increase in places overall and .22% on a same institution basis.
The overall picture is of stable enrolments, with FEE-HELP providing an additional element of choice outside the quota system for Commonwealth-supported places.