Labor has stepped up calls to the federal government to help Australian universities grappling with the coronavirus pandemic as job losses from the sector reached an estimated 11,000.
The Australian National University (ANU) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) were the latest in the industry to announce that they were cutting 471 jobs amid a slump in international student income.
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) estimates job losses at universities across the country at more than 10,000.
Tanya Plibersek, Labor’s education spokeswoman, again criticized the federal government for not extending JobKeeper payments to higher education.
“This is our fourth largest export industry. If coal, gas or iron ore were to take this massive blow to their earnings, the government would be there to help JobKeeper, ”she said Thursday.
“University bosses should demand that the government act, intervene and help.”
RMIT said it has recently accepted 355 applications for voluntary redundancy and that it is “currently discussing a number of possible change proposals” within the university.
“While no final decisions will be made until the consultation is completed and feedback considered, it could result in 250 university-wide job losses if the proposals go through,” the university said in a statement to SBS News.
The NTEU said the 11,000 job loss figure was an underestimate, as it did not take into account those who had already lost jobs and casuals not included in the data.
NTEU President Alison Barnes said the government had “left” the sector.
“There are people queuing up in (work) clinics who should teach in the classroom,” she said.
Mrs. Barnes called on the government to design a bailout package for the sector.
Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said in a statement to SBS News, “The government announced a higher education package that pledges to provide more than $ 18 billion to universities this year, even as the number of domestic students declines. I have convened a working group of University Vice-Chancellor to advise on sustainable approaches to research funding for universities during COVID-19 and beyond. “