University’s lavish party for departing boss sparks call for urgent reform

National Tertiary Education Union

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has called for the federal government to crack down on university executives’ wasteful spending after revelations of a lavish party for a departing vice-chancellor.

Monash University threw a $127,000 party at the National Gallery of Victoria for Margaret Gardner when she left her role as vice-chancellor last year.

The Federal Government’s response to the recently released Universities Accord must address a broken governance system, which allows money at public universities to be wasted while staff contend with an insecure jobs crisis, rampant wage theft and unsafe workloads.

NTEU National President Dr Alison Barnes said the Monash farewell party was yet another example of a wider problem.

“Sadly these revelations are shocking but not surprising,” she said.

“Staff are under crushing pressure, with two-thirds in insecure employment while uni executives spend outrageous amounts on congratulating themselves.

“The lack of accountability is appalling. The Federal Government must overhaul the broken governance model in response to the Universities Accord.

“Where was the lavish function for all the Monash casual academics who had more than $10 million in wages stolen?”

NTEU Monash Branch President Dr Ben Eltham said staff were rightly angry about the NGV party.

“Monash’s University Council has serious questions to answer about who approved such an egregious waste of money,” he said.

“Is this a breach of the university’s policies? And if not, why not?

“Monash Uni has its own performing arts centre at Clayton. Why wasn’t that used, instead of a no-expenses-spared blowout at the National Gallery of Victoria?

“Monash Uni Council is badly out of touch. While they throw extravagant parties for top execs, the University has slipped to 37th out of 42 Australian universities for student experience.”

“With a litany of governance failures now piling up at Monash, it’s hard to see how Chancellor Simon McKeon’s job is tenable.”

/Public Release.