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USyd records $1.04 billion surplus for 2021

The University’s sizeable surplus contrasts starkly with their treatment of staff.

The University of Sydney recorded a $1.04 billion surplus last year, according to its 2021 Annual Report tabled today in the NSW State Parliament. This makes USyd the richest among NSW universities for the 2021 period, recording the largest surplus increase by an 8 per cent margin, followed by Charles Sturt University (CSU). 

This marks a dramatic rise from the University’s $106.6 million surplus in 2020, with leaders of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) calling for accountability and action among USyd management, who have justified austerity measures and wage theft based on the supposed financial threat posed by COVID-19.

According to the Annual Report, this surplus partially results from non-recurring, one-off asset sales and acquisitions, and includes quarantined funds that can only be used for specific purposes, including philanthropic activities, investment funds, and specific purpose grants. Further, of its $275.5 million growth in income from students in 2021, a majority of $249.2 million was attributable to overseas students, an increase of 22.5 per cent from 2020. The report notes also that 2021 operating expenditure dropped by 2.2 per cent, mainly due to a $58.6 million decrease in staff salaries and payroll on-costs, which constitute non-salary employment costs like superannuation payments.

In response to the report, NTEU NSW Secretary Damien Cahill stated on Twitter: “@Sydney_Uni can afford to provide secure jobs, protections against overwork and a fair pay rise for all of its staff whose hard work has delivered this eye-watering result.” 

Since 2020 the University Sydney has made hundreds of staff redundant, worsened job insecurity for many casuals, threatened to cut FASS courses including Religion and Theatre and Performance Studies, and stolen almost $9 million in staff wages. At the same time, 82 per cent of staff claimed they were underpaid during the pandemic, and staff worked 50 unpaid hours on average during Semester One of 2020. 

Earlier this year, a strike was called by the NTEU after 96 per cent of branch members voted to take protected industrial action following unsuccessful Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) negotiations between staff and management. USyd staff went on strike on 11 and 12 May to protest austerity measures, while the University retains its gargantuan surplus. 

Staff and students will go on strike again tomorrow on Tuesday 24 May.