BERL data shows it’s past time for university staff to get a real pay rise.

A new report shows Aotearoa’s university staff have been getting an increasingly raw deal from their employers over the past twelve years.

Earlier this year, Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union commissioned BERL (Business and Economic Research Limited) to review the annual reports of Aotearoa’s eight universities. They collectively show inflation adjusted growth of:

  • Total operating revenue – 25%
  • Government funding – 16.5%
  • Student fee revenue – 45%
  • Research Revenue – 48%
  • Total operating expenditure – 18%

Yet personnel expenses have only grown by 7% over the same period in spite of steady growth in full time staff head count (FTE).

TEU activist and Branch President at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | The University of Canterbury Rob Stowell says “we’ve known for some time that our salaries have been falling behind our colleagues overseas and in other professions but to see such hard data that shows the extent to which we’re being de-prioritiesd by our employers is a real kick in the guts.”

“It's disturbing to see graphically how universities are spending less and less of their income on staff. It's time for all our universities to invest in what's most important, their people.”

“Our branch will be digesting these numbers over the next few weeks and they will certainly be at the forefront of our minds as we discuss pay with our employers and our members throughout this year’s collective agreement negotiations.”

Te Pou Ahurei | National Secretary Sandra Grey says “this report shows two things – our members deserve a real pay rise and the university sector can afford to invest in staff.”

“It’s a matter of priorities – do the Vice Chancellors and the public value university staff enough to ensure they are properly remunerated for the work they are doing? Or are they happy to watch talented staff walk away from the sector or overseas to contribute to another country’s knowledge base?”

“Universities are a human service, their job is to supply the public with the knowledge of their staff, whether they are professors, tutors, librarians or administrators. It’s time to invest properly in people.”

In the leadup to today’s launch, the TEU highlighted the fact that average salaries in 2007/2008 have not kept up with wage inflation (known as the Labour Cost Index). For example, at the University of Otago average salaries have fallen by 10% in real terms over the 13 years BERL looked at. For the University of Auckland, that figure is 17%.

The report – ‘Where does the money go? Analysis of NZ universities’ financial statements’ – can be viewed and downloaded here.