Present tense

Award increases

In early June, the Fair Work Commission announced a general increase of 2.5% for the minimum wage and all modern awards, to take effect from 1 July 2021.

While the increase was a good bit below the 3.5% sought by the ACTU, it will still be a much-needed boost to the pay packets of teachers and support staff in the post-secondary education sector, one above the prevailing rate of inflation of about 1.1%.

For teachers on the award, this means the annual salary for Level 4 will increase to $55,591.27, while the equivalent casual hourly rate will increase to $53.25. For Level 7 teachers, the annual salary will rise to $60,703.53 and the casual hourly rate to $58.15, and for Level 11 the annual salary will be $69,061.29 and the casual hourly rate $64.62.

For support staff relying on the award, a Level 2 employee will get a minimum annual salary of $46,952.74, a Level 4 employee salary will increase to at least $53,460.14, and a Level 6 employee salary will rise to a base rate of $63,699.80.

This award increase will be of benefit to those employees who receive it, and to the broader economy. With general wage increases mired at very low levels, the 2 million or so workers reliant on award wages will see a significant boost, which will aid the economy in the post-COVID recovery.

Border closures

There is no question that the international student sector is in crisis, and this will remain so until international borders are re-opened and international students can return in significant numbers.

As things stand, this is unlikely to happen before next year. The recent Federal Budget had inbuilt an assumption that normal border traffic will not resume until mid-2022, though it’s possible that particular groups of longer-term visitors, such as temporary work visas and international students, may return before then.

The NSW Government has recently announced plans to return some international students later in the year. These numbers will be small in the first instance (around 250 in the first intake), but there are plans to increase this in due course. The first tranche of students will be made up of postgraduate university students, as well as students enrolled in practical courses that can’t really be done online. It will be some time before students at ELICOS and other colleges will be coming through this program, but everyone in the industry can only hope the program is successful and scaled up down the track.

Pandemic fall-out

The pandemic and associated border closures continue to cut a swathe through the sector, with colleges continuing to close, and others greatly cutting back their operations. EC English and Ability, two big providers, recently shut their doors for good, while Insearch have recently announced a third round of redundancies in the past 12 months.

There has never been a more important time to be an IEU member, so make sure your details are fully up to date. You should also encourage your colleagues to join, if they are not already members.

People can join over the phone (8202 8900); via email or online: There are many broader benefits to IEU and fees are tax deductible.

Kendall Warren