Greedy Melbourne University underpays its slaves

While the University of Melbourne’s vice-chancellor, Duncan Maskell, feasts on his $1.5 million salary, he has flooded the institution with insecure casual staff:

The rush towards insecure work has been led by the University of Melbourne, Australia’s richest tertiary institution, which listed reserves of $4.43 billion while employing 72.9 per cent of staff on insecure terms…

Monash University was a close second on the list, with 72.8 per cent of staff employed casually or on short-term contracts but it had much smaller reserves of just over $1 billion…

The rise of insecure work has coincided with a decade of record revenues…

“[The numbers] are terrible,” National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) president Dr Alison Barnes said.

“They [the teachers] have no financial security and that means it’s difficult to take holidays, get mortgages, plan a family but it’s also that chronic insecurity leads to stress and problems of emotional wellbeing”…

Turns out, these staff have also been badly underpaid:

Millions of dollars are being quietly repaid to at least 1,500 academics in a “wage theft” case involving four faculties at Australia’s richest tertiary institution, the University of Melbourne.

The dispute involves university management classifying tutorials as “practice classes” to avoid paying staff the full rate, therefore reducing wages by up to a third.

Universities also allocated academics just three minutes to mark student assessments, and paid them a set marking “piece rate” in accordance with this.

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) said the situation was both “diabolical” and “systemic”, with the practices occurring at two other top-tier universities and casualisation leaving staff vulnerable to working for free.

“What happened at Melbourne University is really just the tip of the iceberg,” NTEU national secretary Alison Barnes said.

“If it can happen at an institution like the University of Melbourne, which is one of our most affluent, then it can happen at any university”…

The University of Melbourne’s latest annual report lists $4.43 billion in reserves while 72.9 per cent of staff are in insecure work.

Disgraceful stuff.

Australia’s universities enjoyed an unprecedented $44 billion windfall in international student fees over the five years to 2019:

Australia’s elite Group of Eight universities were the biggest beneficiaries, enjoying the highest growth and concentration in international student numbers:

In addition to shafting their workforce via mass casualisation, our universities also reduced the ratio of academic staff to students, in turn eroding teaching quality:

Our elite universities have also wasted copious billions on gold-plated buildings and campus upgrades.

For example, take a look at Monash University Clayton’s current redevelopment projects.

Check out the brand new palatial $60 million chancellery building:

Melbourne University isn’t much better. Check out their flashy new $100 million Life Sciences Building:

The entire Go8 is a marketing scam to lure in cashed up international students while minimising wages of rank and file academics. Not one of them genuinely cares about academia, only running education like profit-maximising private enterprises to fatten the wallets of senior management.

They have no right to cry poor to taxpayers over the loss of international students.

Leith van Onselen
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