Oz inquiry into campus waste

November 12, 1999

Some of Australia's leading universities are being investigated for possible waste of resources arising from academics undertaking outside paid work, writes Julia Hinde.

The Audit Office of New South Wales is

looking at arrangements at each of the state's universities, including Sydney and

Macquarie, for academics to undertake

non-university consultancy.

The audit office, which is responsible

for making sure public money is spent correctly, is concerned that "systemic weak-

nesses might expose the university sector

as a whole to the risk of serious or substantial waste".

According to an audit office spokesman,

the investigation is concerned with possible "conflicts of interest". The report, expected

to be presented to the New South Wales

parliament in the first half of December,

looks at "whether academics are using,

with or without permission, university resources when doing paid-for outside

work, and if the university is giving permission, whether it is being recompensed for that".

The investigation follows allegations of irregularities made last year by a former employee of University of New South Wales' research centre. The audit office found no evidence that serious waste had occurred at the university's Centre for Advanced Numerical Computation in Engineering and Science.

Australian academics are normally allowed to work one day a week on outside consultancy.

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