Commonwealth Education Funding Statistics
E-Brief: Online Only issued 24 October 2001
Analysis and Policy
Social Policy Group
Parliamentary and public debates about Commonwealth education
programs often focus on funding issues, with recourse to various
expenditure figures. The purpose of this brief is to describe the
sources of these statistics and to provide links to the data
The brief also contains a number of tables which summarise
Commonwealth education expenditure.
The series Expenditure on Education (Catalogue
No.5510.0) contained information on both government (Commonwealth,
State and local) and private expenditure on education, with an
emphasis on the public sector. The latest (and last) issue was for
1997-98, containing data for 1992-93 and subsequent years. This
series has been replaced by the Special Data Service Government
Finance Statistics Education Australia (Catalogue No.5518.0),
which only deals with government expenditure. The 1998-99 data is
The Commonwealth Budget Papers for the last six years are
available online and can be accessed from
this page. The main educational expenditure statistics
presented in the 2001-02 Budget Papers can be categorised as
- expenditure by portfolio;
- expenditure by function; and
- specific purpose payments.
These are described in more detail below.
Most of the educational expenditure figures in the Budget Papers
relate to the activities of the Department of Education, Training
and Youth Affairs (DETYA). These are generally presented as
estimates for the past and current financial years (2000-01 and
2001-02). The most detailed presentation of these figures is in the
Budget Statements 2001-02.
In line with the outcome/output framework introduced with
accrual accounting in the 1999-2000 Budget, the Department has
presented its programs as directed towards three broad outcomes
- school systems (Outcome
- post-secondary education and training (Outcome
- research training and activity, with international education
Each outcome is said to be the result of the activity of three
or four 'output groups' that are functional groupings of the
Department's programs. Output groups in turn comprise:
- 'administered expenses' or 'administered appropriations' -
these are the grants, subsidies and benefits paid by the
- the 'price of departmental outputs' or 'departmental
appropriations' - these are essentially the administrative costs of
The breakdown in funding between these categories for each
outcome is presented in three tables:
It should be noted that the departmental outputs of the Australian
National Training Authority (ANTA) and the Australian
Research Council (ARC) are recorded separately at:
One particularly useful table is presented in
Appendix 4. This contains a breakdown of DETYA's 'Administered
Items' for 2000-01 to 2004-05.
The Portfolio Budget Statements are intended to enable the
assessment of the financial impact of specific budget measures, but
they are of limited value in assessing historical trends and the
performance of programs. This is because:
- the introduction of accrual budgeting in the 1999-2000 Budget
resulted in a complete break with previous budget statistical
- the broadness of the 'Outcomes and Output Groups' structure
adopted by DETYA restricts the analysis of current programs.
For example, Output Group 2.1 (infrastructure funding for
post-secondary education) incorporates both the higher education
system and vocational education and training (VET) activities.
Programs for these sectors have quite disparate administrative,
legislative, reporting and delivery arrangements and could only be
properly evaluated as separate entities.
output/outcomes presentation is intended to facilitate an analysis
of the effectiveness of Commonwealth expenditure by matching it
with specific objectives and relevant performance indicators.
However, around 80 per cent of DETYA's resources are devoted to
Output Groups 1.1 and 2.1. These comprise the Commonwealth's
contribution to the infrastructure of the school, VET and higher
education sectors. Many of the performance indicators for these
items deal with the output of an entire sector and thus are also
reflections of decisions made by other stakeholders. The
Commonwealth's capacity to influence each sector will vary with its
funding role: it provides around 30 per cent of government funding
for schools, 25 per cent of the operating revenues for the publicly
funded VET system, and just under 50 per cent of university income
(excluding HECS). The accrual based outcome/output framework
requires meaningful performance information to be effective and
this will always be a difficulty when most of the Department's
expenditure is necessarily expressed as broad educational outcomes
in a federal context.
Before the introduction of accrual accounting in the 1999-2000
Budget, the annual Budget Papers contained a series of historical
tables of Commonwealth outlays by function which contained
expenditure for the previous ten years. This analysis was also
useful because portfolio and functional outlays are not necessarily
identical ie. not all education expenditure occurs under the
auspices of DETYA or, conversely, some DETYA outlays may not be
concerned with education. The functional outlays included the
- outlays ($ million) by function and sub-function;
- annual percentage changes in outlays by function;
- outlays on each function as a percentage of total outlays.
The last set of these tables was in the Statistical
Appendix of Statement 4 of Budget Paper No.1 1998-99 (this is a
pdf file - alternative formats can be downloaded from this
page). Users should ignore the figures for 1998-99 and later
years as these are outdated estimates and projections.
The following table presents some of this data for the Education
function for the years, 1988-89 to 1997-98. Readers should note
that these figures are derived from the former cash based system of
budget accounting and are not directly comparable with those in
Commonwealth Outlays on Education, 1988-89 to 1997-98
|Vocational and other ed.
|Ed. Outlays as a % of Total C'wealth
Appendix of Statement 4 of Budget Paper No.1 1998-99
Functional analysis of outlays made a limited return in the
2000-01 Budget papers. Table C1 of Appendix
C to Statement 6 of Budget Paper No.1 2001-02 contains
estimates and projections of Commonwealth General Government
Expenses by Function and Sub-function for the years 2000-01 to
2004-05. The 2000-01 final figures or 'outcome' are given in
B1 of Appendix B (pdf file) to the Treasury paper Final Budget
Outcome 2000-01 (September 2001). The following table combines
the education data from these sources and the 1999-2000 Final
Commonwealth General Government Expenses on Education, 1999-2000 to
|Vocational and other ed.
|Total Tertiary ed.
|Schools - specific funding
Sources: Table A4 of Appendix
C to Statement 6 of Budget Paper No.1 2001-02 and the Final
Budget Outcome 1999-2000 and 2000-01.
It should be noted that the huge decline in student assistance
from 1997-98 ($1859 million) to 1999-2000 ($644 million) is not due
to the new accounting system or a reduction in expenditure, but is
a result of the transfer of Austudy payments for those aged less
than 25 years to the Youth Allowance, which is classified under the
Social Security and Welfare function.
Most of Commonwealth expenditure on schools is in the form of
specific purpose payments to the States. Details of these grants
are given in Appendix B to Budget Paper No.3,
Federal Financial Relations 2001-02. The tables include:
- total (all States combined) current and capital payments for
each schools program, 2000-01 to 2004-05 (Table B1);
- current and capital payments for each State and Territory,
2000-2001 (Table B2) and 2001-02 (Table B3).
Final outcome figures for 2000-01 are given in Table 30 of Part
IV of Final Budget
DETYA Annual Reports since 1995-96 can be obtained from this
The 1999-2000 Annual Report is the first presented in the
outcomes-outputs format introduced in May 1999 with the 1999-2000
Budget Papers. It contains the final accounting for expenditure for
that financial year, namely:
- Table 2 in Chapter 4 for Outcome 1;
- Table 6 in Chapter 5 for Outcome 2; and
- Table 21 in Chapter 6 for Outcome 3.
These tables are analogous to the
outcome tables in the Budget Portfolio Statements, except that
they present actual, rather than 'estimated actual', expenditure
The structural deficiencies of the outcomes-outputs approach
when dealing with the performance of broad education sectors in a
federal context are discussed in the
section on the Budget Papers above. The Annual Report attempts
to overcome this problem by presenting a wide variety of
performance information delivered, wherever possible, ‘with
trend data so that current performance can be measured against
historical performance’ (p.20). Unfortunately, no trend data
for program expenditure is provided so that it is not possible to
correlate movements in the ‘resources invested’ (ie.
expenditure) with those in the indicators that are said to reflect
the performance of those resources.
The outcomes-output presentation is more pertinent when dealing
with the DETYA's own performance, as opposed to that of its
programs or 'administered expenses'. Appendix 6 contains an
informative range of indicators relating mainly to the Department's
The Financial Statements of the Department (Appendix 7) are a
detailed accounting of the Department’s operations in terms
of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997,
but necessarily contain little information bearing on the efficacy
of the department's programs. However, Note 17 ‘Reporting by
Outcomes’ contains a number of summary tables of outcomes
Appendix 8 presents a range of financial and other information
relating to the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS). This,
together with the section
on HECS in the Higher Education Funding Report, is the
principal source of information on the operation of the scheme.
There is no current equivalent to the detailed reports published by
the former Higher Education Council, as the section of the
Employment, Education and Training Act 1988 requiring them
has been repealed. See the Parliamentary
Library e-brief on HECS for more information on this
Although the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Budget
Papers report Commonwealth education expenditure for financial
years, the main programs for each sector are actually legislated on
a calendar year basis. Funds are provided for these programs
through the following Acts:
There are a variety of reports and other documents detailing the
funding of these programs. Those that are available online are
Section 90 of the
States Grants (Primary and Secondary Education Assistance) Act
1996 requires the production of an annual report detailing the
grants made under the legislation. The most recent report (1999)
can be downloaded from
this DETYA page. The reports for 1997 and earlier years
contained the recurrent and capital grants received by each
non-government school in Australia, but subsequent reports provide
only summary tables for each State.
Appendix D of the
Quadrennial Administrative Guidelines for Commonwealth Schools
Programs contains a table summarising the total grants available
for each program in 2001.
The National Reports on Schooling published annually by the
Ministerial Council on Education, Employment and Youth Affairs
(MCEETYA) contain a large number of funding and other statistics.
The reports since 1996 can be accessed from this
page. The most recent is the National
Report on Schooling in Australia 1999. The main funding tables
- Table 16.1 Commonwealth grants for schools by program and
category of school, States and Territories, 1999 (in Chapter
16 - a pdf file);
- Tables 26-38 (in
Appendix 1 - a pdf file), which describe the resources
available from all sources in government and non-government
The table below summarise Commonwealth grants for schools since
Commonwealth School Programs, 1990 to 2000
||Government School Programs
|Non-Government School Programs
Sources: annual reports on financial assistance granted under
the States Grants (Primary and Secondary Education Assistance)
Act 1996 and 1992.
The Annual National Report of the Australian Vocational
Education and Training System produced by the Australian National Training
Authority contains VET financial statistics. Tables 1 and 2 in
Volume 1 of the Report give a breakdown of operating and capital
revenue, by source of funds and by State. ANTA Annual National
Reports and other publications can be accessed from this page.
The following table gives Commonwealth sourced revenue that has
been paid through ANTA or directly to state and territory training
authorities or public providers. It does not include direct
payments to private providers made by DETYA, as these are not
reported in the Annual National Report of the Australian
Vocational Education and Training System.
Commonwealth Grants for the Public VET System, 1995 to
|Type of Grant
|ANTA General Purpose Recurrent
|ANTA Specific Purpose Recurrent
|Other Specific Purpose Recurrent
Source: ANTA, Annual National Report of the Australian
Vocational Education and Training System.
Information on current programs can be obtained from the
document Directions and
Resource Allocations 2001 available from the ANTA web site,
although the download procedure is extremely cumbersome.
The National Centre
for Vocational Education Research has tables of financial data
Section 119 of the Higher Education Funding Act 1988
requires the Minister to table an annual report setting out the
funding determinations made under the Act. However, the Department
does not seem to have made these available online.
Education Report for the 2001 to 2003 Triennium (March 2001)
published by DETYA contains many funding tables relating to
Commonwealth programs. The most useful of these are:
3.2 (Commonwealth funding available for higher education,
2000-2003) which contains the annual allocations for each program
over the triennium; and
4.11 (Commonwealth fully-funded places and operating grants,
2001-2003) which provides the annual operating grant and student
load for each institution.
Funding figures in the above tables are expressed in a nominated
price levels which change each year. This precludes a ready
comparison with the figures for previous years contained in earlier
triennial funding reports, unless adjustments are made using the
Higher Education Cost Adjustment Factors.
DETYA, Selected Higher Education Finance Statistics
contains a breakdown of revenue and expenditure for each higher
education institution. The most recent issue, relating to 1999, can
be downloaded from this page.
DETYA, Selected Higher Education Research Expenditure
Statistics contains a breakdown of research expenditure, by
institution, field of research, type of activity, source of funds
and socio-economic objectives. The most recent issue, relating to
1998, can be downloaded from this page.
The Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee (AVCC) has produced
Key Statistics on Higher Education (September 2001) which
contains many tables of funding and other data. To obtain this
document, click on the links labelled 'University Funding and
this page. The funding information in this publication is
largely derived from the AVCC's
funding tables. These are particularly useful because they
present figures for the period 1983 to 2003 adjusted for cost
factors. There are also a number of tables which contain per
student funding figures. This permits a more accurate assessment of
the actual resources available to higher education institutions and
funding trends over time.
The following table presents some of the AVCC data relating to
Commonwealth higher education grants since 1983.
Commonwealth Funding Available to Higher Education Institutions,
1983-2003 (constant 2001 price levels)
|Type of Grant
|TOTAL - HIGHER
Source: AVCC, Key Statistics on Higher Education
(September 2001), Table A.1.
Recent Reports and
Bob Lenahan, Gerald Burke and Hing Tong Ma, Selected
Asian Economies and Australia: An Overview of Educational
Expenditure and Participation (1998). This report was
commissioned by DETYA. Countries examined were China, Hong Kong,
Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea,
Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
Phil Aungles, Tom Karmel and Tim Wu, Demographic
and Social Change: Implications for Education Funding (May
2000). A DETYA paper containing funding projections for the next
Sally Borthwick, Overview of
Student Costs and Government Funding in Post-compulsory Education
and Training (October 1999). Covers government funding, unit
costs, the cost to individuals and public subsidies to
Higher Education Financing and Policy (April 1998). The final
report of the review, submissions and discussion papers are
For copyright reasons some linked items are only
available to Members of Parliament.
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