Two more universities are joining the long list of Australian academic institutions getting rid of academic and support staff, as the impact of the loss of international students continues to be felt.
The University of Sydney and Curtin University in Perth are both planning measures which will see jobs being lost as they attempt to balance the books without the high fees that were paid by foreign students before the pandemic closed international borders around the world.
Jobs already lost at other institutions
Among the institutions that have already announced redundancies are the University of New South Wales, where a reported 500 jobs will be lost, and the University of Melbourne, which is to cut around 450 positions.
Universities Australia, a body representing 39 local institutions, estimates that the loss of foreign students will collectively decrease revenue by between $3-billion and $4.5-billion.
At the University of Sydney, a letter was sent to staff on Tuesday by its Vice-Chancellor, Michael Spence. In it, Spence invited staff from across all faculties to apply for redundancy. At this stage it is not known how many posts are to be cut in total.
Current cost-savings are ‘unsustainable’
While the university has already implemented a number of cost-saving measures such as freezing the hiring of new staff, pausing certain capital works and banning travel, management believes these are unsustainable in the longer term.
Cutting staff by early next year, whether through voluntary or forced redundancies, is therefore viewed as inevitable.
Meanwhile, the ABC reports that it has seen a leaked document from Curtin University in WA, indicating that management will seek “hundreds of redundancies”.
Curtin must achieve savings of $45-million
“The Curtin University proposal — which is still to be negotiated with unions and staff — plans to address the fall in international student revenue by seeking $45-million in savings, most of which will come from cutting staff costs,” ABC News reported.
The document reveals Curtin, which last year reported 32.2% of its students classed as international, proposes to save $11-million by cancelling a 2% pay rise for staff, which is due next year.
It says another $30-million will be saved through voluntary redundancies. However, if not enough staff apply, forced redundancies will follow.