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Rise in domestic USC students gives boost as covid downturn bites

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The University of the Sunshine Coast says a rise in domestic student enrolments is helping to fill a funding shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A peak body Universities Australia report has calculated the financial hit over the past year, estimating the sector shed more than 17,000 jobs and lost $1.8b revenue across the country.

With foreign students locked out until an effective vaccine is rolled out, the report suggests a further $2b will be lost this year. 

But a USC spokesperson says, unlike some other universities, it is still in a "growth" phase, which is expected to continue following the opening of a new campus in Moreton Bay, last year.

Despite a 25 per cent drop in international enrolment numbers when compared with this time last year, the university is promising no job cuts, and it has just employed more academic staff at the new campus. 

Enrolments are still open for Semester 1, but there are currently 1,109 foreign enrolments - 380 fewer than this time last year. 

However, it has had an increase of more than 1500 domestic students sign up 

"This figure is expected to keep rising in the weeks ahead as we've made a record number of offers this year," the spokesperson says. 

JobKeeper not an option

Last year, Australia's 39 public universities received $18 billion in Federal Government funding, but none have received JobKeeper.

USC says it has taken other mitigation measures, including calling for voluntary redundancies and restructuring some areas of work. 

Seventy staff took voluntary redundancies last year.