At least 17,300 jobs have been lost at universities across Australia since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, equivalent to 13 per cent of Australia’s pre-COVID university workforce.
Other job losses are also expected to take place in the future, Erudera College News reports.
In this regard, the Chief Executive of Universities Australia, Catriona Jackson, said that cuts were more likely to happen as the borders remained closed.
She added that the revenue losses could continue in the future, taking into consideration that many international students are stranded abroad, not permitted to enter the country.
“If an international student didn’t enrol in 2020, the loss would be felt for what would have been their entire three or four years at university,” she said.
According to the National President of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), Alison Barnes, the number of losses is shocking and could harm the future generations of Australia.
“These are people who should be in our classrooms, supporting our students, who should be designing cures for diseases like Covid-19, or creating the technological changes that will help our economy over decades,” Barnes said.
She said that during 2020 or 2021, public universities and their staff were not able to access the JobKeeper Payment- which is a scheme established to support non-profit organizations and businesses affected by the pandemic and thus help more Australians to keep their jobs. According to her, the inability to access the scheme has contributed to the scale of layoffs and has triggered stress among individuals regarding their finances.
Barnes said that the loss of 17,300 jobs would have a huge impact on the Australian economy.
“They are people who suddenly have less income, people who no longer can purchase the things they once could. Their ability to contribute economically is vastly reduced,” she added.
According to the latest data issued from Universities Australia, 17,300 people who lost their jobs last year include the permanent staff and casuals who lacked renewed contracts, which is a rise of 12,500 job losses reported by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) during October.
According to Universities Australia, during 2020, the sector has lost $1.8bn in revenue, and an amount of $2bn is expected to be lost during 2021.
Recently, several universities in Australia stressed they would be providing a 20 per cent discount to international students who are stuck abroad, struggling to enter the country.
Whereas, in January, over 10,000 international students signed a petition delivered to the House of Representatives, asking for exemptions from COVID-19 travel border restrictions in Australia.