A commenter asks about how much Australia spends on higher education.
The main source for this is the DEEWR portfolio budget statement (outcome 3), with the DEEWR Annual Report also containing useful information. After taking out money coming from the Education Investment Fund, the budget for direct grant spending on higher education for 2009-10 is about $5.6 billion. Information on government subsidies per student by field of study can be found in the ‘further resources’ section of this site for university administrators.
More historical data (latest 2008) on funding for individual universities is available in the annual university finance reports. Unfortunately DEEWR has ceased timely publication of the previously annual higher education report so it is very difficult for the general public to find information on arrangements for a particular university.
However information on direct grants understates total higher education related spending. This year the government will lend about $3 billion through the HELP schemes, and recover about $1.4 billion in HELP repayments, leaving net lending of $1.6 billion. The government estimates that the cost of HELP is about $1.2 billion a year, which is made up of around $650 million in deferral costs (ie, there is an interest subsidy on the outstanding debt), about $450 million in debt not expected to be repaid (though only a small % of that is actually written off each year), and about $130 million in discounts for upfront payments and voluntary repayments.
There are also student income support payments, budgeted at $1.8 billion for tertiary education in 2009-10 (ie, includes VET who are about 15% of persons receiving YA). There would also be money flowing via other social security programs to parents of dependent students.
The government says it will spend about $8.5 billion in 2009-10 on research and innovation activities, though not all of this goes to universities. Though always out-of-date, the ABS also produces data on university spending on research and funding sources.
The ABS also produces general education funding statistics, which can be useful for tracking state spending (which is fairly small) but otherwise I do not find it very helpful. It’s done at a very high level of aggregation, which has made it hard for me to reconcile it with data from other sources.
Though as another commenter noted the OECD does also produce spending data, I advise against this source as it is always out-of-date by the time it is published and lacks detail.