Universities are underinvesting in staff.

A report soon to be released by Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education will shine a harsh light on underinvestment in staffing by Aotearoa’s university sector.

The TEU has commissioned researchers from BERL to analyse annual reports from the past 13 years across eight universities and crunch the numbers to see where the money is going.

The BERL data shows that while operating expenses have increased since 2008, the slowest growth in expediture has been on staff costs, even though staff numbers have continued to grow during this period. Between 2008 and 2020, adjusted for inflation, total operating expenses across the sector grew by 18% while staff costs only went up by 7%.

BERL also noted 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%.

Te Pou Ahurei Takirua – Ahumahi | Assistant National Secretary – Industrial, Irena Brörens says “the BERL data proves what our members have been telling us for a long time – they are doing more work for less. TEU has negotiated salary increases that have kept pace with the Consumer Price Index in most years since 2008, except over the period impacted on by the responses necessary to deal with COVID-19.”

“What the BERL report shows is the last time members got a real pay rise was when they worked collectively and took strike action in the mid-2000s. This action got employers and unions engaged with the government in tripartite talks that delivered increases almost double CPI over three years.”

“Since that time, tertiary employers have fallen back into the habit of underinvesting in their people.”

A report featuring the above analysis will be made available to the public early next week.