The University of Sydney posts a $1bn surplus as staff demand a share

The University of Sydney’s revenue grew by nearly $1 billion last year despite the pandemic, fueled by increases in enrollment and property sales, while the financial position of the University of New South Wales it also improved after heavy losses the previous year.

Sydney’s academic union, which is in pay talks with management, said the result showed the university could afford a pay rise for all staff, but the university said it was an exception.

The annual reports from NSW universities were presented in the state parliament on Monday. Sydney showed its operating income increased from $2.6 billion to $3.5 billion from 2020 to 2021, and an operating surplus of more than $1 billion. Its underlying surplus was $454 million.

The University of Sydney fared much better than expected during the pandemic.Credit:nic walker

A statement from the university said the surplus was fueled by one-time returns, including an investment return of more than $460 million, which could only be spent as stipulated by donors, as well as $100 million in property sales.

Vice Chancellor Mark Scott said the university had performed well through difficult years. “While this is a strong result, it is also a unique result,” he said. “We are not immune to the continued uncertain future of international higher education and the growing cost pressures currently affecting the global and Australian economies.”

The university is negotiating a new business agreement with its academics and wants better job security, protection of academics’ rights to a 40 percent research component in their workload, and a salary increase.

Staff will also strike Tuesday for the university to hire more indigenous staff, calling for the current ratio to be raised from 1.1 percent to 3 percent.

National Tertiary Education Union branch president Nick Riemer said the surplus showed the university had ample resources to fund the “reasonable claims being made by staff, including but not limited to a salary increase.

“There is no excuse for the university leadership to be hoarding money in such proportions. People in the university are crying out for much-needed reforms. This shows that they are affordable.”

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