Australia leads the Commonwealth pay pack

December 23, 2010

Australian academics enjoy better salaries than their peers in other Commonwealth nations, according to the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

The Academic Staff Salary Survey, published last week, ranks academic salary scales and benefits in six countries, using a purchasing power parity conversion rate to US dollars to ensure comparability.

The report says that, once adjusted for cost of living, scholars in Australia enjoy higher pay at almost every academic level - averaging $115,600 (£73,200) for professors and $68,500 for lecturers. The overall mid-point average of the salary scales is $83,670 - about 6 per cent higher than South Africa ($78,653), which is ranked in second place.

Canada and the UK are ranked third and fourth, with overall average salaries of $76,594 and $76,377.

New Zealand, which took the penultimate spot in the table ahead of Malaysia, had an overall midpoint average salary of $68,863.

Malaysia's average salary was far lower than any other country assessed - averaging $2,914, although the ACU says that this can be explained by the other benefits received by academics in the country, including housing allowances.

The report shows that gaps in pay between participating countries have diminished. In the previous survey in 2006-07, the overall average salary in Australia was 26 per cent higher than it was in Canada and per cent above that in the UK. In this most recent survey, it is 9.2 per cent higher than Canada's and 9.6 per cent higher than the UK's.

The salary gap between New Zealand and Australia has also narrowed from 40 per cent in 2006-07 to 21.5 per cent in this survey.

While the report credits efforts within individual countries to improve salary levels, it notes that convergence "may be related" to the increasing international market for academic staff.

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