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Author Topic: Australian universities pay more?  (Read 31093 times)
weathered
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« on: January 13, 2012, 3:06:26 PM »

I checked a few australian universities and their pay scale seemed much higher than average American universities. Is this true or is there some fat tax deduction going on or am I just getting it wrong? Aussie dollars seem stronger than US dollars.
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lampard
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2012, 4:43:46 PM »

All things considered, the average Australian prof makes more than the average American prof, and makes more money compared to other professionals than do American profs. There was an international survey a few years ago looking at purchasing power parity or similar metric, with the finding that Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Australia paid their academics higher than other countries.

However, there are a lot of mitigating factors:

a) the Aus $ has had an unprecedented rise against the US$ in the last 2-3 years, with little sign of recession based on strong resource performance. So the Australian salaries in say, 2005, didn't look so attractive when their dollar was worth .76 US$
b) there is much more variation among US prof salaries than in Australia. The difference between salaries at Stanford and NE Iowa State College is a lot higher than between high and lower ranked Australian unis.
c) Australian cities are quite expensive. Sydney and to a lesser extent Melbourne, have ben very pricey for a while, but now other cities, esp. Perth, are also very costly for housing.
d) Australia is pretty expensive overall, apart from housing.
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username2
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2012, 5:34:34 PM »

Seconding the above. I also hear that Australian positions can pay additional "market loading" that is on top of the posted union pay scale, which would be awesome. I guess that is where they can flex for negotiation on an offer.
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jeddc
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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2012, 7:03:38 PM »

Your discipline may also matter, as in some countries salaries are fairly homogeneous across disciplines, while others are adjusted up or down to a certain degree based on market conditions and/or how much revenue they generate on net.  (For example, medical school professors may make more in some countries than law professors, who make more than business professors, who make more than econ professors or computer science or engineering professors, who make more than history or literature professors, etc.)

Fwiw, I recently met a business professor with classmates who took jobs in Australia after getting their PhD.  She told me that her classmates who moved to Australia after graduating felt poor compared to her classmates who moved to the U.S.; and those that later moved from Australia to the U.S. immediately felt richer.

She said they mentioned Australia's very high cost of living, the flatter salary structure, and the pay of those working outside of academia (e.g., blue collar workers) being similar to the pay of these professors (while in the U.S., these professors would make more).

Of course, I think Australia also pays a 17% superannuation (plus annual leave loading), so perhaps there's some time-shifting in terms of pay, w/ reduced standards of living today in exchange for more money when one retires?

(Note:  they're comparing standards of living, relative to each other and to the general population they live in, not salaries at market exchange rates.)
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totoro
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« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2012, 2:32:56 AM »

I'm a full prof in Australia and was previously an associate prof in economics at an R1 (but a very small economics department) in the US. In nominal dollars I'm being paid almost twice as much now $A145k vs. $US75k then. I wouldn't say I'm much better off and assistant profs in econ at R1 universities with large departments are now being paid $100k typically. The Australian Dollar is overvalued. 70-75 US cents is nearer purchasing power parity. My rent here is $A2100 per month vs. $600 where I lived in the US for a 2 bedroom apartment. The average house price in this metro area is about $A525k. Anywhere near the university though is $A650k-$A800k for a free-standing house. Condos are about $A400k and up. We do get 17% super on top of our salary. Taxes are similar to NY or CA.

There is little variation across universities and disciplines in pay in Aus. There are market weights but these are really only in medicine, law, business. Not in econ though I imagine they might pay them to a real star who was a candidate for full prof.

But for your typical humanities prof. this might be a really good deal.

I had no chance to get a job in the US at a place like UCLA which might be the equivalent to my uni in research quality, climate (actually our climate here is not quite like that but much better than where I was in the US)) etc. Of course, property is pretty expensive near there too :)
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pintu56
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« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2012, 6:07:24 AM »

could somebody say something about the Living Away From Home Allowance (LAFHA)? Would it be possible to negotiate this in "fixed term" contracts from universities? (or until you apply for a PR).
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totoro
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« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2012, 9:18:31 AM »

could somebody say something about the Living Away From Home Allowance (LAFHA)? Would it be possible to negotiate this in "fixed term" contracts from universities? (or until you apply for a PR).

I've never heard of it. What is it?
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pintu56
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« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2012, 9:33:39 AM »

here's some information about it:

http://www.payme.com.au/lafha.html
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totoro
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« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2012, 9:47:32 AM »

Here is the ATO description:

http://www.ato.gov.au/businesses/content.aspx?doc=/content/52023.htm

I've never heard of a university paying this, which is why I hadn't heard of it.
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octoprof
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« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2012, 10:37:31 AM »

This will vary widely by discipline and is, of course, dependent on the relative strength of the US dollar and the Aussie dollar. Don't expect it to be constant, at whatever level. Currently the Aussie dollar is over valued and the US dollar is under valued (or perhaps devalued). Those things can change overnight.

And for those who aren't used to the lingo, "super" means "superannuation" which is Aussie-speak for "retirement plan."
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pintu56
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« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2012, 10:56:30 AM »

if I understand correctly, the 17% that is called as super is never paid as a bonus?
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username2
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« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2012, 12:12:42 PM »

If the super is your retirement scheme, then that would be like asking why a US university's TIAA-CREF payments don't get paid to you as a bonus. Not gonna happen. But I have heard of market loading, which is different.
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octoprof
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« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2012, 12:19:53 PM »

If the super is your retirement scheme, then that would be like asking why a US university's TIAA-CREF payments don't get paid to you as a bonus. Not gonna happen. But I have heard of market loading, which is different.

Precisely.  Super is a retirement plan and nothing else.

I've never known anyone who got market loading at an Aussie university, though that doesn't mean it hasn't happened.
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totoro
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« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2012, 5:46:54 PM »

We are hiring a non-academic and paying them a market weighting (of around 25% extra) just to match their current salary outside Aus.

I am told that market weightings and "clinical weightings" are common for academics in the relevant disciplines.

On super, no you can't get it paid as cash instead. Pay is very inflexible here, you can't negotiate in the way people might expect at a private university in the US. For most people the only negotiation is what point on the scale they'll be hired at. I have seen a new PhD hired as an associate prof. In this case the guy at a Harvard PhD and produced about 40 articles a lot of them in top journals in the next 5 years as he was promoted to full prof.

Only think about market weights if you are in something like finance or law or you currently have a high salary in academia and are a full prof and confirmed star.
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proftowanda
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« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2012, 10:44:12 PM »

Good answers above on the cost of living differences.

Here's an example in reverse:  We have a family member who emigrated to the U.S. from Melbourne, noted above as not the most expensive city in Australia, and now is living in one of our expensive U.S. cities -- yet considered rents a bargain, until she realized the context in terms of pay levels and costs of other items. 

Her relatives come to visit us and shop 'til they drop, finding prices so much lower here for clothes, for example (things easily transported back in suitcases), without the add-ons for shipping that they face in Australia.  (Even for clothes made in Australia, as in the wonderfully fashionable city of Melbourne, because much of the raw product such as fabric is imported.)

They all also have had to factor in the cost of travel, to which Australians are so accustomed, back and forth on an annual basis -- and sometimes more often, with deaths in families.  That hit hard in the first year for our young Aussie's budget, as she already had traveled back a few months before and then did so again, so soon.

All that said:  We loved our visit to Australia and, were we younger, we would go for it.  Wonderful folks, and based upon how swiftly employers here seized upon our young grad of Monash, marvelous universities.
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