Labor Calls for More Support as University Job Cuts Continue

NSW Labor is demanding the Government better support the tertiary education sector after the University of New South Wales (UNSW) announced it will slash more than 250 jobs.

The UNSW is making 256 redundant, on top of the 250 that have already taken voluntary redundancies.

The Shadow Minister for Tertiary Education, Clayton Barr said the Government needs to do more to protect jobs and the economy: “The university sector is already on its knees and the NSW Government is not doing enough to prevent a mass brain drain from our State.”

“What is it going to take for the Berejiklian Government to invest in the future and support our tertiary education providers during this recession? They’ve largely ignored the enormity of this crisis,” Mr Barr said.

“Already thousands of research, professional and academic jobs have been lost from the sector, most devastatingly in regional communities.

“Jobs are disappearing from the education sector and more needs to be done to ensure people have secure work during this difficult time.”

Mr Barr said other states have invested heavily to support struggling Universities during the recession but the NSW Government has failed to show its hand, with figures suggesting the sector is facing losses of between $3 – $4 billion in this and coming financial years.

Jobs already lost in NSW include:

  • Charles Sturt University – 110 full-time employees in 2020. Another 100 full-time employees likely to be lost in 2021
  • University of New England – 200 jobs in Armidale
  • University of New South Wales – 493 full-time employees mixed between voluntary and forced redundancies
  • University of Wollongong – Around 150
  • Macquarie University, Southern Cross University, The University of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney are also facing job losses but the figure has not been confirmed.

Mr Barr believes the Government has failed to show foresight during the COVID-19 pandemic after announcing a $750 million package offering commercial loans to NSW Universities in June this year.

“Our universities do not want to accrue any more debt during such a difficult time,” Mr Barr said.

“I cannot explain or understand the reluctance of Ms Berejiklian to invest in universities and invest in our future. For every dollar spent in our Universities, there are many more dollars that flow back to communities. It’s particularly important with the loss of international student revenue. Universities are doing it tough.

“All measures must be on the table, including extra funds for universities, payroll tax deferrals and more research funding.”

Universities have criticised inadequate support from the State and Federal Governments, which they say will reduce teaching and research capacity and lead to job cuts.