Unis barred from JobKeeper cash

Universities argued government grants should be excluded from their revenues, making them eligible for the JobKeeper wage subsidy. Nothing doing said the feds

La Trobe U, Murdoch U and Uni Sydney had all asked staff to apply for the programme which would have saved uni budgets the first $1500 of people’s fortnightly pay. They argued that the test for businesses to quality was a 30 per cent drop in GST attracting revenues (50 per cent for businesses over $1bn) – and as government funding does not attract GST …

To which Treasurer Josh Frydenberg replied Friday night, that this would apply to charities funded by government to provide services but, “the core Commonwealth Government financial assistance provided to universities will be included in the JobKeeper turnover tests.”  The change will attract opposition in the Senate cross-bench watchers suggest not enough to defeat the government.

La Trobe U VC John Dewar, the first VC to call on staff to apply for the allowance, was quick to condemn the government decision, saying he is; “extremely disappointed that the government has elected to change the rules again so as to exclude us from financial assistance … This support would have made a huge difference (via Twitter).

“By applying for JobKeeper, we acted in good faith by following the published ATO guidelines. We obtained independent legal advice which unequivocally confirmed our eligibility for JobKeeper. We sought assistance under the scheme because we care about our staff,” Professor Dewar added in a message to staff  yesterday.

So that’s that. Uni Sydney might attempt to argue-still, pointing to a drop in revenue above 50 per cent for a specific period, as international student fee income plummet. No harm in asking but the government has made it pretty plain that universities are not on its list for more money.