ANU releases 2020 financial figures

23 April 2021

The Australian National University (ANU) recorded a $162.4 million operating deficit in 2020, Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt has told staff and students today.

ANU has released key financial results for 2020 ahead of the formal tabling of its annual report later in the year as part of its commitment to full transparency about its financial position.

The $162.4 million operating deficit is a better return than the previous forecast of $219 million under the University's Recovery Plan. This is mostly due to better-than-expected tuition income from student retention ($22.7 million) and income from research grants ($27 million).

The reported accounting loss in 2020 was $17.7 million, which includes insurance proceeds of $91 million for 2018 flood and 2020 hail damage that can only be spent on related repairs; investment returns of $61 million, which can only be used for superannuation and endowments; accounting adjustments of $3.8 million and deferred superannuation expense of $11.5 million.

The University does not anticipate any more job losses than the 467 modelled in its Recovery Plan.          

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt said: "I thank each and every one of you for your unrelenting focus on our core work, in what have been unthinkably challenging circumstances. 

"The difference between our forecast and the actual 2020 deficits is mostly due to tuition income and income from research grants.

"This does not mean we have $57m more than we thought we had. It simply means we have a smaller deficit.

"The sacrifices you have all made in the past year have gone a long way towards reducing our deficit and future-proofing the University from further financial shocks.

"This has been the hardest 12-month period in our 75-year history and I know you are all working extremely hard to steer the University towards a brighter future.

"I know the last year has been painful for all of us. But, we have a recovery plan in place. It is a solid plan and our plan is working. These are the first steps to our recovery, and making sure that ANU serves Australia and the world for many decades to come."


  • In 2020 the University's operating deficit was $162.4 million
  • ANU forecast a $219 million operating deficit in its Recovery Plan
  • The University's reported accounting deficit is $17.7 million
  • In 2019 the University's reported surplus was $317 million     
  • Full-time study load (domestic and international ) in 2019 was 19,790 (8,816 international and 10,974 domestic)
  • Full-time study load in 2020 was 17,422 (7,020 international and 10,402 domestic)
  • In February 2020 full-time staff was 4,532 (1,817 academic and 2,715 professional)
  • In February 2021 full-time staff was 4,096  (1,722 academic and 2,374 professional) 

2020 INCOME v 2019 INCOME

  • $81 million reduction in tuition fees due to a 21 per cent decrease in international student load (1,774 effective full time study load)​
  • $23 million reduction due to lower levels of commercial activity predominantly attributed to the pandemic​
  • $172 million reduction of investment revenue due to the market's response to the pandemic​
  • $49 million reduction due to super computer completion and other revenue items such as consultancy contracts ​
  • $91 million increase due to insurance proceeds


  • $43 million increase in salary expenditure ​
  • $66 million incurred for separation payments ​
  • $9 million reduction in casual salaries​
  • $20 million increase in student accommodation costs to cover students not able to take up residence​
  • $8 million increase student travel bursaries and scholarships predominantly related to the pandemic and student hardship relief ​
  • $29 million reduction in other non-salary expenditure