OZ academics can buy and holiday more

June 8, 2007

Australian academics have the most purchasing power and South African staff the least, according to a survey of the buying power of university salaries in five Commonwealth countries.

The survey - by the Association of Commonwealth Universities - found that the salaries of Australian academics had the highest buying ability by a significant margin. Canada came second, with only limited growth in salaries since 2004-05, the UK third, followed by New Zealand.

South Africa was last even though it had the highest growth in salary scales since 2004-05. The gaps between the highest and lowest earning countries were greatest among professors and lowest at assistant lecturer level.

Overall average salaries, taking account of purchasing power, were 26 per cent higher in Australia than Canada, although this gap narrowed to 17 per cent when professors were taken out of the calculation. Salaries in the UK were highest but had lower purchasing power because of the country's high cost of living.

Leave was better in Australia than the other countries, with three institutions in the survey offering as much as 91 days' leave after ten years of service. The survey compared the average salaries on the salary scales in each country for assistant lecturers, lecturers, senior lecturers, associate professors and bottom-of-the-scale professors or their equivalents. It then used the The Economist 's Big Mac Index of purchasing power, which compares the price difference between McDonald's Big Macs around the world against the exchange rate.

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