Notre Dame, a small private Catholic university with campuses in Fremantle and Sydney, has recorded the greatest growth of 250 per cent in increasing domestic enrolments, according to The Australian.
The multi-campus Australian Catholic University, which has been recruiting students for the past three years, was second, nearly doubling in size.
ACU vice-chancellor Greg Craven said the university had spent hundreds of millions of dollars on real estate in the past two or so years to accommodate the growth. It paid $55 million in cash for a 25-storey building in North Sydney last year, and had recently acquired a second high-rise in the same area.
Its Melbourne and Brisbane campuses were also undergoing large-scale transformation, Professor Craven said. "It's been said to me that vice-chancellors are supposed to be academics, but in fact we are property developers."
He said government was encouraging universities to leverage their assets and borrow money to fund expansion, but low-interest loans for capital expansion would be a better solution.
The newspaper reports that Australian universities have been able to offer an additional 150,000 places in just five years.
Commentators have warned, however, that there is a risk up to a quarter of all graduates could fail to find jobs that use their qualifications, compromising the government's $6 billion investment.
Unis get 150,000 more students (The Australian)
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