NSW Labor has slammed the State Government’s lack of support for the tertiary education sector after news the University of Newcastle has forecast a $58 million reduction in revenue for 2020.
This follows news the University will have to make $35 million in savings in 2021.
The Shadow Minister for Tertiary Education and Innovation, Clayton Barr said: “It has been obvious for months that the university sector facing huge financial difficulties, yet the Berejiklian Government has ignored the enormity of the crisis.”
“The sector directly employs thousands of people in both metro and regional areas, and indirectly supports hundreds of thousands of workers. It’s our fourth largest export after iron ore, coal and natural gas. Tertiary education is vital in NSW.”
“This is about saving jobs and livelihoods. There are people who won’t be able to pay the rent or buy groceries because of savage cuts across the sector.”
While the University of Newcastle has ruled out forced redundancies, it’s flagged an ‘early retirement’ scheme for staff aged 60 and above.
At the University of New South Wales, 493 full-time equivalent roles will be axed, accounting for 7.5% of the university’s workforce. The University of New England will also slash 200 jobs, devastating the town of Armidale. Last month the University of Wollongong announced hundreds of job cuts across its campuses which span the South Coast of New South Wales.
“The Victorian Government has shown leadership with a $460 million rescue package. The NSW Government’s paltry effort was $36 million in research funding. The University of Newcastle estimates it will have a shortfall of $58 million – much more than the Berejiklian Government’s allocation for research funding across the state,” said Mr Barr.
“Universities will be absolutely crucial to the economic recovery. With the loss of international student revenue and private sector research funding, they’re doing it tough.”
“The Premier must immediately develop a plan with the universities to ensure no job is lost from our public university system. Gladys Berejiklian should demand the Federal Government appropriately fund universities.”
“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.