Monash University’s mammoth surplus mean it’s time to end wage theft and hire more staff

National Tertiary Education Union

Monash University has announced a $416 million dollar consolidated surplus up from $279 million last year.

The figures confirm that Monash University is the most profitable university in Australia. The financial report released this week shows the University has $837 million in cash reserves and $4.35 billion in net assets.

Despite this, figures released on Tuesday also show that Monash University remains a highly casualised and insecure workplace, with 56 per cent of Monash staff in insecure employment, including 33 per cent of staff who are casual.

Meanwhile, Vice-Chancellor Margaret Gardner took home $1.3 million last year and 22 senior managers shared $10.9 million between them.

In late 2020, the University made 277 staff redundant on the basis of a forecast deficit that never eventuated. In 2021, Monash University admitted to $8.6 million of wage theft from more than 2,000 casual academics over a period of six years.

The NTEU Monash branch represents staff at the University. NTEU Monash branch President, Dr Ben Eltham, said “Monash University is Australia’s richest university. Yet more than half of Monash’s staff work in insecure and casual employment.”

“Universities are educational institutions, not corporations. A massive unspent surplus looks good on the books, but does nothing for students, staff or the Australian community.”

Dr Eltham called on Monash University to immediately hire more professional staff and academics to replace jobs shed in 2020.

“After two years of pandemic operations, people are exhausted. There were 277 redundancies in 2020, justified on a projected deficit that never happened. Some of those positions have been rehired, but many have not.

“Many of the professional areas are gravely overworked. The library is struggling to fill shifts. The research office is dysfunctional, struggling to meet its reporting requirements because there’s such a backlog in the verification of publications. Academics are being deliberately overloaded on their workload spreadsheets by managers.”

Dr Eltham said the Union had recently conducted a survey of staff in the run-up to enterprise bargaining negotiations. The preliminary results of nearly 700 staff at the University showed many staff are overworked and unhappy.

The preliminary survey results (n=689) show:

· 53 per cent of Monash University staff felt they were not adequately recognised by senior management for the work they performed during the pandemic

· 36 per cent of staff feel senior management treat staff poorly or very poorly

· 23 per cent of staff told us “I am unhappy at Monash and am actively considering leaving”.

Dr Eltham called on Monash Vice-Chancellor Margaret Gardner to hire more permanent staff, address the University’s toxic workplace culture, and end wage theft.

“We need more permanent staff, in professional areas and at the chalkface. We need a pay rise. We need the University to stop stealing teachers’ wages. Monash can afford it.

“Monash University has amassed $837 million in cash reserves. But real wages are falling and casual academics are having their wages stolen. This institution has lost its moral compass.”

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).