The University of Wollongong (UOW) has rejected a plan aimed at saving jobs.

As the higher education sector grapples with the economic fallout of COVID-19, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and representatives of 38 Australian universities have proposed the National Job Protection Framework.

The plan is for a 5 to 15 per cent salary cut to all full-time ongoing staff aimed at securing thousands of jobs as institutional incomes dwindle.

But at least ten universities have now rejected the deal, including University of New South Wales, University of Technology Sydney, Deakin, Australian Catholic University, and Central Queensland University.

UOW Vice-Chancellor Paul Wellings has explained his reasoning.

“The framework does not offer the best pathway to confront the challenges we must deal with to prepare UOW for a sustainable future,” Professor Wellings said in a statement.

“The proposed national framework offers some important short-term reductions in pay and conditions for staff to help address the adverse financial impacts of the pandemic.

“However, we must plan for a longer period of time, given the scale of the recession and its likely impact on international student numbers in 2021 and 2022.

“The framework restricts us from taking that view.”

While the UOW has estimated a $90 million budget shortfall, which will lead to a large 2020 deficit, NTEU UOW president Georgine Clarsen said the university may be hiding the true economic impact of COVID-19.

“We understand that the university doesn't want to reveal the real situation to staff regarding the finances of our university,” Ms Clarsen said.

“We're disappointed that our management hasn't expressed that goodwill, and we are asking them to negotiate with us in good faith.

“They want to act without bringing the union into the decision making, indicating they are unwilling to actually be transparent in a way that a public institution should be.”