State Government Must Step up and Protect University Jobs

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NSW Labor has slammed the State Government’s lack of support for the tertiary education sector as news emerged that Macquarie University will slash jobs at its Sydney campus due to funding shortfalls.

Macquarie University is facing a $150 million shortfall in 2021 due to falling international student numbers. That figure will hit $200 million in 2022. The university expects a loss of $69.5 million this year.

“We have seen thousands of devastating job cuts and the Berejiklian Government has ignored warnings the university sector is on the brink of disaster,” said Clayton Barr, Shadow Minister for Tertiary Education and Innovation.

“This is about saving jobs and people’s livelihoods. There are people who won’t be able to pay the rent or buy groceries because of these cuts.”

Mr Barr said it’s important to protect jobs and prevent our best and brightest people from having to move elsewhere to pursue their careers.

“Both the NSW Liberals and Federal Government won’t step up. Yet we’ve seen the Victorian Government take the lead with a $460 million rescue package, and Queensland follows with its $150 million package.”

This is the latest in a wave of job cuts announced by public universities. The University of New South Wales recently announced cuts of almost 500 jobs or 7.5% of their workforce. The University of Wollongong is set to lose 150 staff across its campuses. The University of New England has slated over 200 job cuts in Armidale. The University of Technology Sydney also expects to cut between 400 and 500 staff. These job cuts are in addition to the thousands of casual and fixed-term contract workers in the sector who have lost work.

“Universities play a key role in our society and our economy and with the loss of international student revenue, they’re doing it tough,” said Mr Barr.

“The universities are doing everything they can to stem these cuts, but even with every other saving measure available to them they still have to cut thousands of jobs.”

“The Premier must immediately develop a plan with the universities to ensure no job is lost from the public university system and use her power as the Premier to ensure the Federal Government funds universities appropriately.”

“All measures must be on the table – including more funding, payroll tax deferrals and more research funding.”

The NSW Government’s package incorporated a mix of Government backed commercial loans, a $25 million medical research fund and $11 million for translational research. In contrast, Macquarie University estimates it will have a shortfall of $69.5 million – greater than the Berejiklian Government’s entire allocation for research funding across the state.

Universities have indicated funding from State and Federal governments is not sufficient and will result in reduced teaching and research capacity, as well as job losses.