Unis kapowed, kaboomed, kaplooed

The government makes it clear, again-no wage subsidy for uni staff

Universities initially hoped they would qualify for the JobKeeper wage-support programme as charities (for which revenues have to decline by 15 per cent). The feds kapowed this by specifying that universities did not qualify (although they are indeed charities).

Optimistic VCs then hoped they could collect for staff because their GST-attracting revenue would be down by 30 per cent (the floor for organisations under $1bn), or even 50 per cent (for those over).

The government kaboomed that by announcing federal funding of universities counted for the income test. And yet universities with lumpy cash-flows dreamt on, hoping they could still qualify on the basis of months when income was especially appalling. Which the government kaplooeed on Friday, with what the learned Conor King calls the “key nasty” in the text of the new JobKeeper regulations, specifying turnover time for universities is January-June, before the second semester collection crunch for international students.

The learned Andrew Norton (ANU) suggests there are alternatives to JobKeeper the government could use to support universities. For example stumping up for research projects unis now subsidise from international student fees. But in the absence of such and with JobKeeper the big subsidy scheme Mr King (Innovative Research Universities) asks what he says is “the key question,” “does government want functioning universities from 2021.