Global ratings agency highlights UOW’s robust financial profile
Announcement affirms university’s AA credit rating
The University of Wollongong’s financial position remains robust according to the latest S&P Global Ratings announcement even taking into account the recent cap on Commonwealth Grant Scheme funding.
The international ratings agency affirmed UOW’s AA rating, highlighting its solid market position, robust operating margins, high level of financial resources, and relatively low annual debt service.
The agency pointed out that the stable outlook “reflects our expectation that the recent cap on Commonwealth Grant Scheme funding will be manageable”.
In December 2017, the Australian government announced changes to its higher education policy settings with immediate effect. For 2018 and 2019, the government is capping at 2017 levels the funding it provides to universities.
S&P cautioned that downward pressure on the rating could occur if there is a substantial decline in student demand or if there are further reductions in government funding beyond those recently announced.
S&P also said that the outlook reflected its view that UOW's role and link to the Australian government was likely to remain unchanged.
Commenting on the ratings announcement UOW’s Chief Finance Officer, Damien Israel, said it was pleasing to receive reaffirmation of UOW’s financial standing.
Mr Israel emphasised how S&P referenced UOW’s solid growth in student numbers during the past few years and how the University was one of the first in Australia to offer an accommodation guarantee for new commencing undergraduates.
He said the agency’s report highlighted that UOW's first-year retention rate remains strong at about 86% in 2017.
“The global rankings agency also noted what they described as our robust international reputation, particularly among younger universities,” Mr Israel said.
UOW is a member of the University Global Partnership Network and, in 2017, joined with two other universities in NSW to form the NUW Alliance.
UOW is currently in the middle of a relatively large infrastructure program. Its 2016-2020 Strategic Plan outlines a capital expenditure budget of A$300 million over five years. Earlier in 2018, construction began on a new Molecular Horizons life sciences building, and construction will shortly begin on a new building for social sciences, law, humanities, and the arts.
UOW’s main and Innovation campuses are located in Wollongong. It also operates a campus in Dubai, with a headcount of about 3,500 students, a Sydney CBD campus and several small campuses across regional NSW.
UOW is developing two new locations in South Western Sydney and Hong Kong. The South Western Sydney campus at Liverpool opened in April 2017 with an initial intake of approximately 200 students. UOW envisions this campus's headcount expanding to more than 7,000 by 2030.
In 2015, UOW assumed stewardship and governance of the Community College of City University (CCCU) in Hong Kong, which recently rebranded as UOW College Hong Kong and currently enrols about 6,000 students.