In 2018, the number of students starting a bachelor degree fell for the first time since 2003. Of Australia’s 37 public universities, 23 took fewer new bachelor-degree students in 2018 than 2017.
Enrolments are expected to be down again in 2019, following a drop in applications. Commencing domestic postgraduate student numbers peaked several years ago.
In a sector used to growth a downturn causes problems.
Since a Commonwealth funding freeze announced in late 2017, universities have not had strong financial incentives to enrol additional students. But this is not the main reason for falling enrolments. The issue is weak demand more than reluctant supply.