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NZ Academic Salaries Lag Behind Competition

28 May 2008

NZ Academic Salaries Lag Behind Competition

Academic salaries in New Zealand are still lagging a long way behind those in Australia, Canada and the United States, according to an updated report by the international accounting group Deloitte.

The report was commissioned by the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee on behalf of a tripartite forum made up of Government, universities and university unions. First produced in 2005, the report looks at university staff academic salaries and remuneration and involves a comparison of New Zealand with Australia, Canada, England and the United States.

While the report makes the overall observation that academic salaries in this country have increased at a greater rate over the past three years than three of the countries, they are still significantly lower in purchasing power parity(PPP) terms than in Australia, Canada and the United States, but similar to England.

Over the past two years New Zealand academic salaries have improved as a result of the tripartite process with the Government allocating $26 million in 2006 and $20 million in 2007 for that purpose. Last week’s Budget contributed a further $15 million.

However, the Deloitte report says that despite the minimum salary for a professor in this country growing by 18 per cent over that period, the “double digit growth” in the equivalent rank in Australia, England and the United States means New Zealand professorial pay rates in PPP terms “are still lagging a long way behind” those three countries.

The Association of Commonwealth Universities’ latest salary survey is cited in the Deloitte report, including a reference to the particular risk that strong Australian academic salaries pose to New Zealand, “where academics can move freely to work in the much more competitive Australian sector”. Emphasising that point is the report finding that academics working in Australian universities receive salaries which are on average 44 per cent higher than salaries paid to their counterparts in New Zealand.

The updated report also refers to the increased level and use of salary loadings in other countries to “overcome competition” (both private sector and university) for staff in a number of disciplines, often in areas with growing student enrolments.

Further, Australia, England and Canada have university superannuation schemes that provide for higher employer contribution levels than exist in New Zealand. The level of contribution in Australia is 17 per cent as opposed to 6.75 per cent here.

NZVCC chair Professor Roger Field says the gap between New Zealand and Australian academic salaries is widening at a time when the Government’s contribution towards salaries paid to academics working in universities here is falling. In light of the Deloitte report findings, that contribution should be going up, not down.

The Deloitte report is available at:

Under “advocacy” (discussion papers).


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