Academics sound the alarm after NSW universities cut thousands of jobs

The 726 jobs lost at UNSW were higher than the 493 projected by the university in July 2020, which it said were needed at the time due to the continuing effects of COVID-19 and a budget shortfall of $370 million.

A university spokesperson said the staff reductions over the 2020 to 2021 period were proportionate and comparable to all other universities.

The spokesman said a significant portion of the job losses came from a slowdown in hiring to fill vacancies.

“We have resumed hiring and at this stage we have no plans to cut jobs,” the spokesperson said.

Data from the Ministry of Education does not give a complete picture of university job losses, as it only includes an estimate of casual full-time equivalent job losses provided by universities.

This data predicts a 15% drop in casual FTE positions at Australian universities between 2020 and 2021.


Academic Dr Damien Cahill, secretary of the National Tertiary Education Union NSW, said job losses in NSW went far beyond the impact of any drop in international enrollment thanks to the pandemic.

“We believe university principals have used this as an opportunity to pursue the disproportionate cuts they have wanted to make for years,” he said.

“Much of the work that was in progress has now been transferred to the remaining staff.”

Research from the Mitchell Institute’s education policy think tank late last year suggested that Australia and New Zealand could expect the flow of international students to return to levels of before the pandemic when international borders reopen.

At Sydney University of Technology, 489 permanent or term staff left the institution last year, representing a 12.6% decline in staff.

The institution said it has lost at least half a billion dollars in revenue during the pandemic, largely due to the loss of international student tuition and business revenue.

“Precautions have been taken to minimize any effect on students or other staff,” a spokesperson said.

“Major further job losses are not anticipated as the steps the university has taken to date to make its costs sustainable should see it through the tough years ahead, with 2022 and 2023 expected to be the toughest on the financial plan, but she also does not expect to be able to return to positions.


Sydney University of Technology Student Association president Anna Thieben said students have already felt the effects of job cuts which have hurt their education.

“I don’t think there are any plans to reinstate the staff in any way, which is obviously incredibly disappointing,” she said.

“In my own classes I can really feel it – we’ve had a lot of labs that have been shortened because there’s less staff and a lot of classes that were originally tutorials have been combined into larger seminars. important.”

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