The head of the Australian National University has rejected claims the institution was overly reliant on Chinese students in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
Speaking on the Democracy Sausage with Mark Kenny podcast, vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt said the university would be able to withstand the loss of 4000 international students, who have been stranded due to travel restrictions imposed due to the virus outbreak.
"I think if people have not been thinking about what it means to have a very large reliance on a single market, they're going to find out very quickly now because, of course, they're being tested," Professor Schmidt said.
"[The claims of over-reliance doesn't] prove anything because universities are still standing, and as the head of a university, I certainly have been worried about some sort of shock.
"I will admit a pandemic was perhaps not what was in my mind, and making sure that the university had healthy finances, pretty much no matter what happened."
The vice-chancellor said the university was focused on not being overly reliant on full-fee paying international students and did not want student numbers to grow.
He said the focus of the tertiary institution was a better learning experience for the students that were already enrolled.
"We're very much focused on quality, quality, quality at everything we do, so I look through that lens first," Professor Schmidt said.
"It needs to add up, of course, financially, but I have the ability of making an even better student experience for everyone.
It comes as the university offered up to $5000 to international students stuck in China due to the coronavirus, as part of a $20 million expenses package.
The financial assistance would go towards covering rent and other living expenses.
It's estimated 80 per cent of ANU's Chinese students missed the start of the academic year.
Semester one's census date - when fees for subjects are due - was moved to the end of the semester.
Almost 700 courses have been run by the university with remote participation for students stuck due to the travel bans.
Travel bans are in effect for China, South Korea and Iran due to the spread of the virus.
There are no reported cases of coronavirus in the ACT.
The latest financial figures from the university show earnings from international students had soared, raking in $320 million in 2018, up from $248 million the year before.
Overseas students make up two out of every five people enrolled at the campus.
"ANU ... is quite small. It's the same scale as a Harvard or a Cambridge, and we are a community," Professor Schmidt said.
"The staff and the students are a community together, and so, when suddenly 4000 members of your community can't show up, it's a big deal."
The vice-chancellor said flexibility was important for students affected by the virus outbreak, whether they were following coursework while stuck overseas or deferring studies.
"We're trying to keep everyone in the field of play and we're trying to make it so that they're not disadvantaged," Professor Schmidt said.
"We're trying to be student-centered and make sure everything we do is keep those students engaged and able to, as quickly as possible, get back into the swing of things.
"[International students] are part of our community, and a very important part of our community."