A new wave of job cuts at Australian universities


A new wave of job cuts at Australian universities

Mike Head

18 March 2017

As the academic year gets underway this month, students and staff at Australian public universities face deteriorating conditions. Starved of funds by one government after another, university managements are decimating full-time jobs, reducing face-to-face teaching and driving up class sizes.

Deep funding cuts imposed by the last Labor government have been compounded by multi-billion dollar cuts inflicted by the current Liberal-National administration. This is forcing universities into further restructuring as they desperately compete with each other to enrol students, particularly full fee-paying international students, and attract corporate investment.

Toward the end of last year, a new wave of job cuts began across the country, mainly via so-called voluntary redundancy or retirement programs that are used to get rid of targeted workers. These schemes have the full agreement of the two trade unions that cover university workers, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU). What follows is only a partial list:

  • Last November, the Queensland University of Technology said it would “purge” about 90 “underperforming” staff “whose aspirations no longer align with those of the university” because they were “not bringing in enough money.” Employees would be offered up to a year’s salary to quit with the help of a retirement tax package.
  • A week later, Curtin University in Western Australia confirmed 100 to 150 staff were expected to be axed for 2017. Blaming the former mining boom state’s economic slowdown, the management said it planned to allow fixed-term, casual and sessional staff contracts to expire in humanities to offset…

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