The University of Melbourne is cutting 450 jobs in an effort to stave off $1 billion in losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic

University of Melbourne. (Image: Getty)
  • The University of Melbourne is slashing 450 jobs in an effort to combat financial losses incurred due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The university faces $1 billion in losses over the next three years.
  • It comes as the pandemic has caused international student numbers in Australia to plummet.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

The University of Melbourne expects to cut 450 jobs as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc on its revenue.

The prestigious Group of Eight university revealed its plan to combat the nearly $1 billion in revenue losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which was supported by the University Council.

After a review into cost-cutting measures, the University of Melbourne expects to slash 450 jobs across the academic and professional workforce, which will also affect casual and fixed-term positions.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell described the job losses as an unavoidable consequence of the pandemic.

“The University is facing a loss of revenue of nearly $1 billion over the next three years,” he said in a statement. “Our current rate of expenditure is not sustainable. We must reduce our costs to match our operational requirements.”

He added that the university has taken measures over the last six months to cut down its costs and drew down on its financial reserves to support staff and students through the pandemic. The job cuts, however, are “a last resort measure”.

“The global pandemic has meant many thousands of international students have not been able to join the University this year as a result of the border closures and the impact of this will continue to be felt for years to come,” Maskell said. “With fewer students, the University must be smaller and we will need fewer staff.”

In June, modelling by Universities Australia estimated that Australian universities could lose $16 billion by 2023 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the time, higher education experts attributed the financial trouble to the drop in international student numbers. Ian Marshman, Honorary Principal Fellow at the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education, told Business Insider Australia international student income accounted for an average of 26% of Australian university revenue in 2018.

While Maskell acknowledged that the job cuts were a “difficult” decision, he believed it was a “necessary” step for the university’s survival now and into the future.

“This is an extremely difficult decision at a challenging time for our community,” he said. “It affects many dedicated and hard-working staff members who have worked tirelessly for the University, especially over the last six months, some of whom will leave us by the end of the year.”

The job cuts come after the ABC reported that the University of Melbourne will be repaying staff millions of dollars in underpaid wages.