Our 2021 financial results have been finalised through the auditing process and approved by Council, and they are better than we expected at the start of 2021.
This webpage provides more detail about our financial statements. Our full audited financial statements will be included in our annual report, which will be tabled in Parliament later this year. We will announce the release of the annual report in On Campus, our newsletter for staff and students.
We will provide some key figures and then offer some context about what those figures mean in reality. Most of us are not accountants or financial experts, and we encourage you to seek clarification if you are unsure.
Last year, we expected an operating deficit of $120.5 million. We actually had operating surplus of $30.2 million in 2021. The difference between the forecast deficit and the actual surplus is mostly due to:
$51.5 million from better-than-budgeted income including from student retention and research revenue from Government grants and consultancies
$45.9 million saved due to unfilled positions
$53.3 million saved in other expenses due to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on fieldwork and travel.
In our complete financial statements included in our annual report, and submitted to Parliament, we include income sources that cannot all be used for our University operations.
You will also see a reported net result of $232.4 million, which is larger than our operating surplus. This includes income from investments and insurance proceeds, both of which we are unable to use for operating expenses. There is $150.8 million in investments revenue of which $86.5 million is unrealised gains. There is also $50 million of insurance payments that will be used for remediation of buildings damaged by the hail storm in 2020.
Our insurance claims for the hail storm will continue to be paid out for several years, so we will continue to report those proceeds in our income statements. However, those proceeds have to be spent directly on repairing the damage caused by the hail storm and cannot be spent on any other operational costs such as salaries.
In 2021 we received $71 million of additional Research Support Program funding from the government with expenditure being incurred in 2021 and 2022. We will not have this additional revenue in 2022. We will have expenditure for this in 2022.
This year, we are going to hire colleagues to fill vacant positions and we are going to get out into the field and take our work around Australia and the rest of the world as the national university should. That means we expect to return operating deficits in 2022 and 2023. Our financial plans indicate we will reach an operating break-even position in 2024 and a small surplus in 2025.
The past couple of years have been among the most challenging in our 75-year history. While 2021’s final financial figures were not what we budgeted, the sacrifices we have made in recent years were necessary for our ongoing success as an institution so we can fulfil our unique mission as the national university.