CANBERRA, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- More than 17,000 people lost their jobs at Australian universities since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Universities Australia, the industry's peak body, revealed on Wednesday that 17,300 positions were cut in 2020.
Universities' revenue fell by 4.9 percent, or 1.8 billion Australian dollars (1.3 billion U.S. dollars), in 2020 as border closures crippled the lucrative international student market.
Catriona Jackson, the chief executive of Universities Australia, said that the sector expected revenue to fall by a further 2 billion Australian dollars (1.5 billion U.S. dollars) in 2021.
"We always said universities would face a multi-year hit to their revenues. If an international student didn't enrol in 2020, the loss would be felt for what would have been their entire three or four years at university," she said in a statement.
"Continuing border closures mean universities face the double whammy of fewer returning students in 2020, and reduced numbers in 2021. The cumulative impact won't be felt just in 2020 and 2021, but for years to come.
"Universities have worked hard to limit job losses by halting infrastructure projects, making tough decisions about courses and making savings wherever they could, but the effect of COVID-19 on the higher education sector has come at a real cost."
Universities repeatedly called for assistance from the government during the peak of the pandemic in Australia but were denied access to the 90 billion Australian dollars (68.4 billion U.S. dollars) JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme, which was introduced to prevent mass unemployment.
Alison Barnes, the president of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), said the "shocking" losses would harm future generations of Australian students.
"These are people who should be in our classrooms, supporting our students, who should be designing cures for diseases like COVID-19, or creating the technological changes that will help our economy over decades," she told The Guardian.
"The parents of Australia should be frankly really alarmed. You have got these figures of job losses coupled with the incredible reductions of courses, and that harms future generations of Australia. It harms anybody who is a school leaver, or who wants to retrain if they lose their job." Enditem