NSW Labor Calls on Federal Government to Extend Jobkeeper to Public Universities

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NSW Labor has called on the Morrison Government to extend its JobKeeper program to public universities – as a number of NSW universities announce a wave of job cuts.

Shadow Treasurer Walt Secord and Shadow Minister for Innovation, Science and Tertiary Education Clayton Barr this week wrote to Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on the matter – requesting the change.

In recent weeks, NSW has seen:

  • the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) report revenue losses of $200 million with up to 500 job cuts;
  • University of NSW announced that it would cut 493 full time jobs;
  • the University of Newcastle report revenue losses of $58 million and 50 jobs to go this year;
  • Charles Sturt University with 32 per cent international students faces a loss of about $80 million and a reported 220 jobs to go over the next two years;
  • Southern Cross University has a reported shortfall of $40 million with up to 100 job cuts;
  • the University of New England may have to cut up to 200 jobs as the institution looks to save $20 million a year; and
  • Additionally, thousands of casual and fixed term contract workers have lost work in March and April, at the beginning of the pandemic.

Mr Secord said the public tertiary education sector was one of the first and hardest hit sectors of the NSW economy – with the sector facing a hit of up to $19 billion nationally.

“These cuts will not only affect university staff, but it will have a significant hit on businesses which rely on the sector.”

“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.”

Mr Barr said: “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.”

“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.”

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.

Recently, a number of private universities including the University of Notre Dame, Bond University, Torrens University and The University of Divinity were granted an exemption to the existing JobKeeper rules.