State Government Must Protect Jobs at the University of New England

NSW Labor has slammed the State Government’s lack of support for the tertiary education sector after the University of New England (UNE) in Armidale told staff it will slash 200 jobs to save $20 million a year.

The Shadow Minister for Tertiary Education and Innovation, Clayton Barr said: “The university sector was poised to make devastating cuts, yet the Berejiklian Government has consistently ignored the enormity of the crisis.

UNE this week confirmed its revenue doesn’t cover costs and that it needs to protect itself from the impact of drought,  bushfires and Covid-19.

“This is about saving jobs and livelihoods, particularly in a regional community like Armidale,” Mr Barr said, “These cuts will affect 15% of the university’s workforce and have a big impact on the local economy.

“The University of New England plays a vital role in Armidale and surrounds. This is a devastating blow.”

“There are people who won’t be able to pay the rent or buy groceries because of this decision.  Without employment, many people will be forced to leave  town.”

Last month the University of Wollongong announced hundreds of job cuts across its campuses. The University of New South Wales also axed almost 500 full-time equivalent roles.

“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,” said Mr Barr.

“The Victorian Government has shown leadership with a $460 million rescue package. The NSW Government’s paltry effort was $36 million in research funding.”

“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 said would reduce teaching and research capacity and lead to job cuts.