Victorian universities replaced some of their Covid job cuts in 2022 according to a new analysis by veteran HE analystHE funding, Frank Larkins (Uni Melbourne), HERE.
Based on annual report data, Professor Larkins calculates the state’s public universities reduced FTE staff numbers by 3498 positions 2019-21, but expanded their full-time equivalent count by 2055 in ’22.
He suggests this occurred through new hires and “upgrading” jobs – from casual to continuing and from fractional to full-time. Professor Larkins points out head-counts will be higher.
Uni Melbourne had 9809 staff in 2022, 295 more than in ’19, Monash U grew more modestly 8422 in ’22 up from 8347 in ’19.
In contrast, La Trobe U reduced its FTE workforce by 600 jobs, a close to 20 per cent cut and while it had a similar profile for net staff loss to Swinburne U, LT U reduced cumulative expenditure on staff by $107m 2019-22, while Swinburne’s cut was $31m. “La Trobe continues to be an outlier and a puzzle decreasing year-on-year expenditures on staff,” Professor Larkins writes.
In contrast, Uni Melbourne was up $341m and Monash U, $291m.
In terms of overall finances, five universities had big enough surpluses in ’21 to keep them positive for the two years, despite big losses in ’22. The 2021 results were bolstered by one-offs, including earnings from the uni-system’s sale of the IDP international student recruitment business and the Commonwealth’s Covid emergency research funding.
Uni Melbourne ($367m), Monash UN($339) and RMIT ($106m) had the strongest net outcomes for 2021 and 2022 combined, followed by La Trobe U ($18m) and Deakin U ($2m). Swinburne U (-$2m) and Federation U (-$8m) lost money – as did Victoria U which had a $73m two year loss. Victoria U’s 2022 deficit was 17 per cent of the year’s income and Federation U’s was 15 per cent – both twice that of the other big loss maker, Uni Melbourne (7 per cent). Overall, Professor Larkins is optimistic, “universities have been resilient in managing the financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and are emerging in a stronger financial position as a foundation for future growth. It is reasonable to expect that it will be not too long before the strong upward trajectory established from 2010 to 2019 will be resumed