A top official at one of Australia's most prestigious universities warned on Friday that the sector has been "left to bleed" by the federal budget.
Brian Schmidt, Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University (ANU) here, said that many universities in the country would experience "budget woes" in 2021, reports Xinhua news agency.
The federal budget for the financial year 2021-22 was unveiled by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Tuesday night.
The ANU in April revealed a budget deficit of A$162.4 million for 2020, its worst since 2008.
"What is harder to understand is why the university sector has been left to bleed, given what most might expect to be its pivotal role in the health of the economy," Schmidt was quoted as saying by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Friday.
"The cumulative effect of border closures on international student numbers will lead to other universities catching up with my university's budget woes this year."
Peak body Universities Australia in February revealed that 17,300 jobs had been lost at universities in 2020 as operating revenue fell by about 4.9 per cent, or an estimated A$1.8 billion lost in revenue.
It predicted that the sector, one of the industries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, would lose a further A$2 billion in 2021.
In response to Schmidt's assessment, Education Minister Alan Tudge told the ABC that funding for higher education was already at an all-time high of A$20.4 billion.
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