UOW praised for “very strong” financial position
International ratings agency affirms UOW’s AA credit rating
S&P Global Ratings has praised the University of Wollongong (UOW) for its very strong financial profile, sound financial policies and strong financial performance in its latest Ratings Research Update.
The international ratings agency affirmed UOW’s stand-alone credit profile as ‘AA’ and its outlook as “stable”, based on the University’s very strong enterprise and financial profiles.
“In our view, UOW benefits from a solid market position and growth in enrolment numbers, and high levels of financial resources and low outstanding debt,” S&P Global Ratings said in the report.
“The stable outlook reflects our expectation that UOW’s enterprise profile and financial profile will remain very strong.”
The report said UOW’s “very strong financial profile was a reflection of its sound financial policies and high level of available resources”.
While UOW does have high levels of cash and investments, these are expected to decline over the next two years as the university rolls out a large capital expenditure program, having committed $300 million to new infrastructure over the period 2016-2020.
S&P Global Ratings pointed to UOW’s excellent reputation and strong performance in a number of areas as a significant contributor to its enterprise and financial standing.
The report highlighted UOW’s good academic reputation, it’s high student retention rate (86 per cent for undergraduates in 2016), and the fact undergraduate students had a mean tertiary entrance score of about 72 out of a possible 99.95 in 2016.
The report described UOW's international reputation as “robust”, as evidenced by its high standings global university rankings, including the QS Top 50 Under 50 (17th in 2018), Times Higher Education Young University Rankings (30th in 2017) and the overall Times Higher Education World University Rankings (in the in the 251st to 300th bracket).
While UOW’s financial position was strong, the report warned that its financial performance will be challenged by proposed federal government funding cuts over 2018 and 2019.
“The financial profile could weaken if the Australian government significantly reduces its financial support to the higher education sector (and UOW is unable to respond with matching cost cuts), causing its operating margins to deteriorate, or if UOW's international campuses struggle,” the report said.
UOW Chief Finance Officer Damien Israel welcomed the report as an accurate reflection of the strength and diversity of the university’s interests and financial position.
“It is essential that the University remains financially sustainable given its importance to the communities it serves and the large number of staff and students who benefit from the institution’s ongoing presence,” Mr Israel said.