Salary gap data shows the most popular clicks in Australian universities

Senior managers and star academics are earning twice as much as staff at Australian universities, after international and disciplinary competition has gained ground in what was once an egalitarian setting.

A Times Higher Education The analysis shows that academia’s rich choices are not limited to senior officials. Dozens of employees at each university are pulling in triple or quadruple the average sum each person is paid.

The 50 best-paid University of Sydney employees each earn an average of A$484,312 (£274,495) – typically 4.3 times the A$111,991 typically paid full-time equivalent (FTE) for the remaining 9,400 guest workers. At UNSW Sydney, the average salary of the 50 top earners of A$473,059 is almost 3.8 times the average of A$125,209 in FTE terms for the other 7,800 staff.

Similar patterns apply at the other four Victorian Group of Eight (Go8) institutions, with average pay for the top 50 highest paid staff ranging from A$440,900 at the University of Western Australia (UWA) to A$440,900 at the University of Queensland. Average FTE earnings for the remaining thousands of employees ranged from A$94,837 at the University of Adelaide to A$115,561 at UWA.

The analysis is based on figures provided in a Freedom of Information request asking for top salaries at Go8 universities, institutional financial statements and workforce data reported by the federal Education Department.

The annual report and HR data collected in the 2020 calendar year are the highest-earning salaries at most of the six institutions for the 2019-20 fiscal year, so the numbers don’t exactly match. But a number crunch at one university produced “very similar” figures, a source said, and none of the six universities accepted. ofAn invitation to set alternative figures.


Best v Residual: 50% of the average salary paid compared to the average salary of the remaining employees

Institute The average salary of the 50 highest paid employees The average salary of the rest of the workers
Australian National University 350,571 dollars 113,547 dollars
University of Adelaide $337,617* 94,837 dollars
University of Queensland $440,900* 106,057 dollars
University of Sydney $484,312* 111,991 dollars
University of Western Australia $325,218* 115,561 dollars
UNSW Sydney 473,059 dollars 125,209 dollars

Sources: Institutions, Institutional Annual Reports, Department of Education. Salaries in Australian dollars are defined as full-time equivalents, excluding superannuation and superannuation. Figures cover the 2020 calendar year, except those marked with an asterisk for the 2019-20 financial year.


Experts say the “wage inequality” in Australian universities is not on par with big business or other areas of higher education.

Roger Wilkins, associate professor at the University of Melbourne’s Institute for Applied Economic and Social Research, said the perception of excessive fees “over the top” could affect the morale or reputation of universities, but was not particularly at odds with their own philanthropy. . “Any CEO tries to convey the same feeling of ‘being on board together’ and ‘we’re all working towards a common goal’ – it’s because the language at university can be a little different.”

Australian National University emeritus economics professor Bob Gregory says the pay gap is a natural consequence of the higher education business model driven by international standards. “Forty years ago, everyone’s salary was more or less set by the arbitration commission, and all professors got the same salary. But increasingly, universities have become global markets. The best professors are basically working on the world stage, and salary structures should be close to matching what they can earn. [elsewhere],” he said.

Professor Gregory said similar pressures occur between disciplines. Finance professors, for example, drew higher salaries than economics professors because they could command better pay outside of teaching. “There are more market forces at play than ever before, and people aren’t necessarily as professional as they used to be.”

The University of Sydney said pay packages for senior staff reflected “their role and the size and complexity of our institution”. Minimum salary ranges for doctoral-qualified employees range from $80,000 to $215,000, which “reflects the breadth of our work structure and workforce,” he said.

UNSW said the salary was in line with “sector norms and standards” and was designed to attract “the best candidates … from Australia and internationally”.

[email protected]

Leave a Comment