The Corruption of the Universities By James Reed
We have covered the intellectual and academic corruption of the universities, but the financial aspects are equally as worrying. Thus, we have situations across the country of some senor administrators getting annual salaries of greater than $ 1 million, white junior staff are being laid off, or taking a salary cut, as the Australian universities have come to be funded largely by money from full fee-paying international students. Go figure.
“The rampant commercialisation of Australia’s public universities has been laid bare as they engage in behaviour more expected of multinationals than learned institutions. While huge numbers of teaching staff have been casualised, the sector is reporting bumper profits and eyewatering corporate salaries. Union representatives are concerned that wage theft by universities from their increasingly casual workforce could reach into all of Australia’s 39 public universities. Michael West Media has learned that early results of a survey issued by the National Tertiary Education Union to its members show that the practice is effectively universal in the sector. Alison Barnes, National President of the National Tertiary Education Union told Michael West Media. “We have always known it was going on but because of the casual and insecure nature of employment – that precarity works against reporting of underpayment.” So far, least 10 Australian universities have admitted to underpaying casual staff, having to audit payments to staff or to being in industrial disputes with staff. The 10 universities also collectively posted $1.12 billion in profits for the 2019 calendar year, a 46% rise compared with 2018. Last week, the ABC revealed the widespread underpayment of casual staff across the public university sector, a practice unions describe as wage theft.
Teaching staff are already highly vulnerable, with the number of casually employed academics estimated at 70% of teaching staff in some universities. Moreover they are not eligible for JobKeeper due to rules that require more than 12 months continuous employment with an organisation. It is unclear how many casual staff have been let go by universities although numbers are likely well into the thousands, especially as universities have also announced swingeing jobs cuts due to the pandemic with thousands more to come. “There is no requirement for university to report how many causal staff they employ,” Barnes said. The union is undertaking audits to try to understand the extent of the problem. She accused the federal government of abandoning staff by stripping $10 billion from universities in the past decade. They are also being abandoned by their vice chancellors, who earned salaries of at least $1 million in 2019, with all but one receiving pay rises. Meanwhile, Australian vice-chancellors are also the highest paid in the world, with Sydney University’s Michael Spence topping the list at $1.6 million. While the argument regularly trotted out is that to attract the best you need to pay commensurately, it is worth noting that Spence is taking a pay cut of more than 50% in his new job as vice chancellor of the UK’s elite University College London. UCL ranked 15th in the world on The Times Higher Education rankings this year, 45 places higher than Sydney University.”
Given that the sources of much of our social problems, in one way or another stems from the universities, the reasons are piling up to eliminate these fossilised entities. If the Chinese money does not flow back, they will have to be rationalised anyway, so best to go all of the way now.