The NSW drivers’ licence is set to become electronic in 2019, joining three others already available in digital form.
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- Recreational Fishing Fee.
- Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) Competency Card.
- Responsible Conduct of Gambling (RCG) Competency Card.
- Engage people with disability about their needs.
- Plan, implement and measure outcomes.
- Build collaborative networks and partnerships.
- Advocate within and outside the sector.
- Boost local employment.
Laws and licensingIn Australia, the legality of spyware use varies according to government agency. Digital forensics tools are used with a warrant by the ATO to conduct federal criminal investigations. A warrant is typically required before Australian police agencies can use spyware. ASIO, on the other hand, has its own powers, and those under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979, that enable spyware use when authorised by the attorney-general. ASIO also has expanded powers to hack phones and computer networks. These powers raise concerns about the adequacy of independent oversight. International control of these tools is also being considered. The Wassenaar Arrangement, of which Australia is participant, is an international export control regime that aims to limit the movement of goods and technologies that can be used for both military and civilian purposes. But there are questions about whether this agreement can be enforced. Security experts also question whether it could criminalise some forms of cybersecurity research and limit the exchange of important encryption technology. Australia has export control laws that apply to intrusion software, but the process lacks transparency about the domestic export of spyware technologies to overseas governments. Currently, there are few import controls. There are also moves to regulate spyware through licensing schemes. For example, Singapore is considering a license for ethical hackers. This could potentially improve transparency and control of the sale of intrusion software. It’s also concerning that “off-the-shelf” spyware is readily accessible to the public.
‘War on math’ and government hackingThe use of spyware in Australia should be viewed alongside the recent announcement of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s so-called war on maths. The prime minister has announced laws will be introduced obliging technology companies to intercept encrypted communications to fight terrorism and other crimes. This is part of a general appetite to undermine security features that are designed to provide the public at large with privacy and safety when using smartphones and other devices. Despite the prime minister’s statements to the contrary, these policies can’t help but force technology companies to build backdoors into, or otherwise weaken or undermine, encrypted messaging services and the security of the hardware itself. While the government tries to bypass encryption, spyware technologies already rely on the inherent weaknesses of our digital ecosystem. This is a secretive, lucrative and unregulated industry with serious potential for abuse. There needs to be more transparency, oversight and strong steps toward developing a robust framework of accountability for both the government and private spyware companies. Monique Mann, Lecturer, School of Justice, Researcher at the Crime and Justice Research Centre and Intellectual Property and Innovation Law Research Group, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology; Adam Molnar, Lecturer in Criminology, Deakin University; and Ian Warren, Senior Lecturer, Criminology, Deakin University. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. [post_title] => Spyware merchants: the risks of outsourcing government hacking [post_excerpt] => The distribution of commercial spyware to government agencies appears to be common practice in Australia. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => spyware-merchants-risks-outsourcing-government-hacking [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-25 12:20:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-25 02:20:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27681 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27671 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-21 11:16:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-21 01:16:24 [post_content] => Australians are selective about when they support sharing personal data with government agencies and commercial organisations via the Internet of Things, according to the 2017 Unisys Security Index. The vast majority of Australians, 82 per cent, support using a button on their phone or smartwatch to alert police to their location during emergencies. Yet only 35 per cent support police being able to monitor fitness tracker data anytime to determine their location at a certain time. The findings indicate that Australians will embrace IoT where they see a compelling reason such as personal safety and medical emergencies, but concerns about privacy and data security mean they want to be able to control which organisations can access their data. Most Australians support (75 per cent of respondents) medical devices such as pacemakers or blood sugar sensors automatically transmitting significant changes to a patient’s doctor, and sensors in luggage to advise passengers if their luggage has been unloaded and what carousel it will be on (65 per cent). Yet less than one in three people support using a smartwatch app to make payments (29 per cent), or a health insurer accessing fitness tracker data to determine a premium or reward customers for good behaviour (26 per cent). The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to devices, sensors or computer systems that can connect and exchange information with each other using the internet. Unisys examined consumer reaction to the trend as part of a global study that gauges the attitudes of consumers on a wide range of security issues. The study polled 1,002 adults in Australia during April 2017. “These findings highlight that when it comes to personal data there is a very delicate balance between privacy, security and convenience – even for organisations generally trusted by the public,” said John Kendall, director of border and national security programs at Unisys. “For example, people are happy to use their smartwatch to alert police to their location when they need help, but they don’t want police to freely access that data at any time – they want to control when they share their data.” What are the barriers to IoT? Privacy and security concerns are key reasons Australians do not support IoT. In particular, if they do not feel it is a compelling enough reason to share their data or if they do not want an organisation to have such data about them. Data security is the biggest barrier cited for not supporting a smartwatch payment app. Richard Parker, vice president financial services at Unisys Asia Pacific said: “To address consumer concern around data security of smartwatch payment channels, banks need a multi-pronged approach that spans technology and policies to secure the data, as well as reassuring customers by communicating the steps taken by the bank to protect them – a fine line in delivering a frictionless customer experience whilst making sure they are secure.” Devices on government agency personnel are supported Wearable biometrics are part of the IoT phenomenon: wearable technology that analyses human characteristics to confirm an identity or monitor critical medical data. There is strong support, three in four Australians, for police or border security staff wearing facial recognition body cameras to identify criminals or terrorists who are on watch lists; and medical sensors transmitting any significant changes to a patient’s doctor. Fingerprint scans on smartwatches could address the security concerns around smartwatch payment apps. “Approximately half of consumers support a fingerprint scan to control access to data on a smartwatch (52 per cent) or to authorise a payment from the smartwatch (48 per cent). This is a clear signal to banks that biometrics could help alleviate consumer concerns about smartwatch payment channels,” said Mr Parker. While 50 per cent of Australians support airline staff wearing facial recognition glasses to verify the identity of passengers boarding aircraft at airports, only 29 per cent support the same glasses being used to identify VIP customers for special treatment. John Kendall said: “Respondents see it as a trade-off: is it a compelling enough reason for that organisation to capture this information about me? The findings reveal law enforcement, national security and serious medical conditions are considered acceptable justification, but customer loyalty programs and employee tracking are not – the impact on privacy outweighs the personal benefit.” Support for data analytics varies Support for analysis of data collected from a range of sources also varies – even among different government agencies. Fifty-seven per cent of Australians support border security officers analysing the travel history of passengers, and whom they are travelling with, to determine if they are eligible for fast-track border clearance. Yet only 40 per cent support welfare agencies accessing personal spending data from credit card records and insurance policies to verify if benefit claims are legitimate, and even less (32 per cent) support the tax office using the same data to verify income tax returns. Furthermore, the majority of Australians do not support data analytics being used to sell goods and services to them. Sixty-two per cent do not support banks monitoring individual customer spending behaviour to offer related products such as insurance for items they have purchased. Richard Parker said the use of data analytics must be sensitive to customer concerns. “Customers expect businesses to know them based on the history of their relationship. In a world where interactions may be across a range of channels and not just in person, many organisations are turning to data analytics to provide extra insight. Ironically, while they may be trying to improve the customer experience, if businesses cross the line and appear to invade their privacy by revealing that they know more about them than what the customer has knowingly shared, it just turns the customer off. Technology alone is not enough; it must be used in the context of understanding human nature and cultural norms.” [post_title] => Privacy is paramount [post_excerpt] => People want control over when they share personal data via Internet of Things and data analytics. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => privacy-is-paramount [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-21 11:16:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-21 01:16:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27671 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27593 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-12 17:56:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-12 07:56:46 [post_content] => The Federal Government has declared the half-way point in the roll-out of the National Broadband Network. Minister for Communications Senator Hon Mitch Fifield said at a press conference: “The NBN is now available to half of Australia. That’s ahead of schedule and ahead of budget. The NBN is now available to 5.7 million premises nationwide. 2.4 million premises have taken up that opportunity already. By the middle of next year NBN will be three quarters complete and will be done and dusted by 2020.” There are, however, some questions remaining: why have only half of the eligible households connected to the NBN; what is the data and service quality; and indeed, why has NBN Co. spent $177m on copper wires to the end of the financial year – would it not have been better to replace the old technology with fibre, rather than repairing the old copper? “Fibre to the node is a good product,” Minister Fifield retorted. “And an overwhelming majority of people on fibre to the node have a good experience. People on HFC have a good experience. People with fixed wireless have a good experience. People with satellite overwhelmingly having a good experience. This is a major project. There will obviously be a percentage of experiences in the rollout which aren’t perfect. But NBN is working day-by-day to improve that experience.” Customers say otherwise Connection rates are remaining slow and many customers are holding back in their allowed 18 months of connection time, unsure of the dependability of the NBN service. A recent Choice survey reported that 76% of Australians on the NBN said they had a problem, mentioning slow speeds or disconnections/drop outs. And if you have an NBN connection and would like to join the Choice project to monitor service provider broadband speeds, you can sign up to be part of the project, with CHOICE and Enex selecting participants based on postcode to ensure national coverage: www.choice.com.au/broadband. Many existing users are reporting data drop-outs and extended waiting times for repairs and service, with one customer the Sydney Morning Herald talked to finding himself in “bureaucratic limbo” for four months between his service provider, the Telecommunications Ombudsman, ACCC and NBN, on a fault that took just 48 hours to fix once the newspaper got involved. The NBN’s SkyMuster satellite service is equally – or even more – in the doldrums, and this writer can attest to the service going AWOL many times a day for no apparent reason and large file transfers (read 2MB or more) are cup-of-tea affairs. (I.e., once you press the button you have time to go and make a cup of tea – and drink it! – by the time it is downloaded.) Streaming movies, or even audio, are a subject for dreams. While the Minister was not admitting it, NBN CEO Bill Morrow told Senate Estimates in June that the organisation is looking into improving the satellite service following widespread complaints about congestion and slow speeds. Mr Morrow said several options are under consideration to improve the Sky Muster satellite service, including launching a third satellite, buying space on a third-party satellite, building more towers, or improving the connectivity technology on the two current satellites. "[A third satellite] is one of the options that we are looking at to satisfy Minister Fifield and Minister Nash's requests," Mr Morrow said in June. "We will look at enhancing the existing technology with the two satellites that are up there today; we will look at a third satellite to see if that's feasible; we will look at other satellites that are third party that will be up in the sky that maybe we can leverage those satellites to get more capacity; we will look at getting some other towers to relieve the congestion of the satellite beams that are coming down.” Renters can forget it Whilst officially half of all Australian properties can access the NBN, this figure is reduced to a fraction when it comes to rental properties. Rent.com.au has told ZDNet that only around one third of all its rental properties have access to the broadband network. As of the end of June, NBN services were available at just 31 per cent of Rent's rental premises in the Australian Capital Territory; 32 per cent in Victoria; 35 per cent in Queensland and Western Australia; 36 per cent in New South Wales; and 37 per cent in South Australia. Only Tasmania and the Northern Territory – two of the earliest NBN rollout areas – at 80 per cent and 92 per cent, respectively, are above the one-third mark. [post_title] => NBN ‘all good’ – if you’re the minister [post_excerpt] => The NBN has declared the half-way point in the roll-out of the network. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nbn-good-youre-minister [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-12 18:20:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-12 08:20:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27593 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27429 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-19 12:45:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-19 02:45:11 [post_content] => A senior public official from Victoria’s Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board (MFB) executed an elaborate deception to employ her two sons by encouraging them to change their names and falsify their CVs. The Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass’ report into the scam, released today [Monday], uncovered a case of naked nepotism within the metropolitan Melbourne fire service that she said had cost the public more than $400,000 over a number of years. The MFB’s Chief Information Officer, Mary Powderly-Hughes, hid her relationship to her son, David Hewson, when she hired him in July 2014. She employed her other son, Barry Robinson, two years’ later to backfill Mr Hewson’s position after she handing him a permanent role as the Manager of IT Administration, Finance, Procurement and Projects. Leaving nothing to chance, Ms Powderly-Hughes typed her sons CVs, faked their employment history and told them the interview questions beforehand. She also pretended to carry out reference checks after interviewing them. To make doubly sure her second son got over the line for a procurement manager role, Mrs Powderly-Hughes ‘interviewed’ Mr Robinson at her home and drilled him in IT finance packages, despite him being woefully underqualified for the role and ordinarily working as a motor mechanic. The three were sprung after a whistleblower reported their concerns to the Ombudsman. “I have my suspicions that Mary Powderly Hughes has hired her son, or family member, or someone with a very close connection and I think she’s manipulated things to make sure he got the job when it became permanent. When he was a contractor he quickly got a rate rise, which is quite rare for most people,” the manager told Ms Glass. The Ombudsman investigated the tangled web the trio had weaved using social media and official records. Officers matched Mr Hewson’s mobile phone number listed on his MFB emails with his role as Treasurer of the local cricket club. They then matched his personal email address with a Facebook account for a Mr Hughes, which revealed the suburb he lived in, the same as the cricket club. The Victorian Electoral roll listed a David Patrick Powderly-Hughes in the same suburb. Mr Hughes Facebook account also showed he had previously worked for Parks Victoria, which Mrs Powderly Hughes had also listed in her past jobs on her LinkedIn account. A search of the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages showed that the men were her sons and had both changed their names a few weeks’ before starting work at MFB. Ms Glass said the case was an egregious example of self-interest. “Some cases I have investigated over the years seem so unlikely you could not make them up. Except, as in this case, they did,” Ms Glass said. “The facts of the case are that a senior public official at the Metropolitan Fire Brigade hired her son, not declaring the relationship, having falsified his CV and coached him prior to interview, three weeks after he changed his name to conceal the relationship. “After giving him a pay rise and moving him into a permanent role, she then hired her second son, also falsifying his CV and “interviewing” him at her home after he, too, had changed his name to conceal the relationship,” said Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass. Ms Glass said she had rarely come across such blatant and calculated behaviour. “Often the cases are minor, although wrong. Not this time, this was a case of deception where the family nest was feathered, plain and simple.” Unsurprisingly, all three have left MFB since the investigation blew up. Ms Powderly-Hughes resigned on the day of her interview with the Ombudsman and both of her sons have since been sacked. Ms Glass said cases were often difficult to detect and she underlined the importance of colleagues raising the alarm if they saw anything suspicious going on at work. “The case also serves as a salient reminder of the importance of disclosers acting on suspicion that something is awry in their workplace. More often than not, as the saying goes, where there is smoke, there is fire.” She said that while the agency could not be held responsible for the deception perpetrated upon it in this case it needed to beef up its conflict of interest policies. [post_title] => Senior public official secretly employs sons after name changes and doctored CVs [post_excerpt] => Pretend reference checks and pay rises for the family. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => senior-public-official-secretly-employs-sons-change-names-falsify-cvs [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-19 14:22:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-19 04:22:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27429 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27402 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-16 10:40:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-16 00:40:21 [post_content] => Hilltops Council is one of the NSW councils facing a bill for its merger. Pic: Facebook. The NSW government has left some councils with hefty bills to pay since their forced amalgamations in May last year. Government News understands that mergers have ended up costing some NSW councils more than the state government merger and transition funding they were given. Rural and regional councils, in particular, are resentful because they received only half of what metropolitan councils were given to cover the process and yet they often receive much less from rates and have lower reserves. Rural and regional councils received $5 million for each merger, while metropolitan councils were handed $10 million for their mergers under the state government’s New Council Implementation Fund (NCIF). But there were caveats. The funding could only be used for certain things, such as getting expert advice and integrating IT systems, but not to pay ongoing staff costs or council administrators, who replace councillors and mayors until the local government elections in September. Councils were also given between $10 to $15 million of Stronger Communities funding to go towards community projects and infrastructure. Despite the funding, some councils are finding there is a reality gap. Hilltops Council, a merger between Boorowa, Harden and Young Councils in the South West Slopes of the state, estimates that it will end up spending $6.5 million on its merger, a shortfall of $1.5 million. Greens MP and Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge said residents of the three former council areas would be ‘shaking their heads’ at the figures and wondering where the $1.5 million extra would come from. “Every independent expert said at the start of this process that amalgamations would be more expensive and more disruptive than the government pretended, and now we are seeing this come true,” Mr Shoebridge said. “The incompetence of the Coalition is really staggering, and now they are expecting residents in the local councils they have destroyed to meet the cost of their failure.” Hilltops General Manager Anthony McMahon said he did not understand the logic behind giving rural and regional councils significantly less funding to cover their merger costs than their metro counterparts. “In our case, we’ve been responsible for bringing three councils together that are geographically separated,” Mr McMahon said. “We’re also a water utility and we have additional constraints in relation to having two former councils with populations under 5,000, which means we have to comply with Section 218CA of the Local Government Act. These factors are not a consideration for metro councils.” The council will finalise its transitional costs and then consider whether to lobby the state government for the money. “We’re focused on ensuring Hilltops Council is adequately resourced to complete the merger process, and will be making representations to Minister Upton accordingly,” Mr McMahon said. “We’ve made clear our determination in ensuring the community does not pay for merger-related costs.” But it is not only regional councils who have been left to pick up the tab for the mergers most of them fought hard against. Sydney’s Northern Beaches Council, an amalgam of Manly, Pittwater and Warringah Councils, received $10 million for its upfront merger costs and has only $105,000 left in the kitty. The council’s biggest outlays were $2.5 million for staff redundancies and $2.8 million for system integration. Northern Beaches Council acknowledges it faces further restructuring costs in the draft of its 2017-2018 Operational Plan. “It is recognised that council will incur further restructuring costs such as the cost of integration, aligning positions within the new organisational structure and new salary system which will exceed the funding provided,” says the plan. “Accordingly the Long Term Financial Plan has been prepared on the basis that once the NCIF has been fully utilised, existing budgets will firstly be used to pay for those merger and transition costs not funded through this mechanism prior to the identification of net savings.” Brian Halstead President of Save Our Councils Coalition, a community group against forced council mergers, said a funding shortfall had always been on the cards. “The amount that the government allowed was based on the KPMG report, which under costed amalgamations and because they’re not allowing councils to book the ongoing staff costs and administrators against the funding,” Mr Halstead said. He said some council staff were spending 25 per cent of their time managing the merger process, including harmonising service delivery and staff pay and conditions, and that NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian should stump up the extra cash. “If I was a ratepayer, I would be thinking that these amalgamations have been forced on them by state government. It’s only reasonable that the state government bear the costs of amalgamation but I doubt any of the administrators will [ask] because they’re paid public servants.” Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Keith Rhoades said he was not surprised that merger costs had exceeded the funding available. “LGNSW, along with a number of academics and other experts, argued strongly throughout the process that there was a strong potential for additional costs,” Mr Rhoades said. “It was always clear that the cost of individual amalgamations would vary from council to council depending on readiness, systems compatibility, staff skills etc and in fact this is one reason why forced amalgamations can be more difficult than those that are achieved voluntarily, after extensive meaningful consultation.” Roberta Ryan, Director of the Institute for Public Policy and Governance at the University of Technology Sydney, said it was hard to predict the cost of mergers but the state government had given it their best shot at trying to work it out from past experience. She said the cost of mergers would depend partly upon the extent of co-operation between councils before they merged, for example through shared IT systems and services and the level of regulatory harmony in an area. “I understand there has been a shortfall for a number of councils,” Ms Ryan said. “Many regional and rural councils would have found it harder and more expensive because the amount [they were given] was less and some of them may not have been working towards some of these things that some of the metro councils were.” The ability of new councils to absorb any cost blowout was highly variable, she said. “Some councils have good reserves but some of the smaller ones are very strapped financially.” Asked when the true costs and savings from mergers would be known she said: “Not ever - as we don’t have the base line data available - there can be overall benefits and improvements - that may have happened even if the amalgamations didn’t happen.” The Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) would not say whether any NSW councils had approached Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton to fund the shortfall or whether the government would act, should this occur. The DPC statement would only say: “The NSW Government has provided an unprecedented level of support to new local councils. “The NSW Government provided new councils with $375 million to implement the mergers and kick start investment in new services and infrastructure for their residents. “New councils in regional areas received $5 million to cover the costs of merging, as well as $10 million for a merger of two councils or $15 million for a merger of three councils, which is to be used for community, services and infrastructure projects.” [post_title] => NSW councils fork out for forced mergers as government funding dries up [post_excerpt] => Councils could petition Berejiklian for shortfall. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-councils-fork-forced-mergers-government-funding-dries [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-16 14:53:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-16 04:53:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27402 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27322 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-07 12:59:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-07 02:59:07 [post_content] => Graduates at Southern Cross University. Pic: Facebook. NSW universities recorded a combined operating surplus of $631 million last year and have coped with government funding cuts by reining in spending and increasing their income from student fees and other sources, an audit has found. Auditor-General Margaret Crawford’s report, Universities: 2016 Audits, released yesterday (Tuesday) by the Audit Office of NSW, found that the state’s ten universities were managing to stay afloat despite government cutbacks. Ms Crawford said: “Universities are managing the impact of continued downtrend in Commonwealth government grants by diversifying revenue and constraining expenditure.” She said universities were now ‘less reliant’ on government grants. The audit found that all of the universities recorded a surplus in 2016 and their combined growth in revenue exceeded their expenditure growth by 1.1 per cent, compared to a negative position (of 1.3 per cent) in 2015. However, at an individual level, five universities saw their rate of expenditure growth surpassing their revenue growth. Charles Sturt University had the highest negative earnings gap at 1.8 per cent, due to increased tuition contracts, while Sydney University’s negative earnings gap of 1.7 per cent was primarily due to an increased wage bill and a write down of capitalised project costs. Three other universities also had a negative earnings gap: University of New England (1.2%), University of Western Sydney (1.1%) and the University of Wollongong (0.9%). Southern Cross University had the highest positive earnings gap at 10.7 per cent, driven primarily by an increase of $13.4 million in Commonwealth Government Education Investment Fund. Next was University of Technology Sydney at 3.9%; University of NSW with 3.7 per cent; Newcastle University 2.9% and Macquarie University with 2.3%. Much of this financial buoyancy appears to be from a 25 per cent increase ($458 million) in overseas student revenue, a massive jump of 71.4 per cent since 2012. Last year was the first time NSW universities have earned more from overseas students’ course income than from domestic students’ course income. Ms Crawford said: “Some NSW universities' business models depend on international students' intake to be financially sustainable. These universities manage income concentration risk by focusing on increasing the geographical diversity of overseas students.” The balance between income gained from student course fees and government grants has been shifting over the last five years. Income from student course fees jumped from 39 per cent in 2012 to almost 46 per cent in 2016, whereas Commonwealth grants have dropped from 42 per cent of universities’ income in 2012 to 36 per cent in 2016. The report echoes an earlier Deloitte Access Economics study using data from 17 Australian universities, which found that Australia’s universities receive sufficient revenue through government funding and student fees to cover the cost of teaching most degrees. Two major exceptions were dentistry and veterinary science, which were both found to be underfunded. The study compared the average cost of delivering courses and said this had increased by 9.5 per cent between 2010 and 2015 while revenue went up by 15 per cent over the same period. Managing the risks Despite these encouraging numbers from both surveys, universities face an uncertain future after federal Budget measures slugged them with an efficiency dividend of 2.4 per cent in May, alongside hiking up student fees and pushing graduates to repay loans more quickly. The report identifies the top five strategic risks to NSW universities:
- Government policy changes
- Technology disruption
- Increasingly competitive market for international students
- Future financial sustainability
- Investment in research not providing the desired outcomes and excellence
- Recreational Fishing Fee.
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