Some 2,000 degree students at RMIT University did not get their exam results yesterday amid a dispute with Australia's National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU).

The union has banned the release of the results, which had been scheduled for yesterday, after failing to come to an agreement with the university about academic pay and employment.

There are about 6,000 students in the three- year Singapore Institute of Management-RMIT programme. RMIT believes around 2,000 students are missing at least one result.

An SIM spokesman said those affected were non-graduating students and they have been informed by RMIT about the delay in their results' release. He added that they will be able to continue their studies with minimum interruption.

"SIM will continue to liaise with RMIT for ongoing updates, and keep the students notified of new developments," he said.

The NTEU wants an annual 7 per cent increase in academic staff pay over the next four years and a 20 per cent cut in the number of casual lecturer positions. In a statement, the union said it had spent 10 months trying to negotiate a new pay agreement.

But RMIT's deputy vice-chancellor Gill Palmer said the union demands would cost nearly $300 million over four years, adding that its claim is "unrealistic".

She told The Straits Times: "In the current uncertain environment, with declines in international student numbers and major cuts in state and federal government funding, it is challenging to secure the future of the high-quality education, research and services of the university.

"We are disappointed that the NTEU has decided to take industrial action."

The union's move comes less than a week after similar action was announced at Melbourne's Swinburne University of Technology, where some 50,000 students have been denied access to their results.

At this stage, Singapore is the only country outside Australia affected. RMIT also has students in Malaysia, China and Vietnam who may be affected as the dispute escalates. The next semester for the SIM-RMIT programme starts in July. Students have already selected their modules for the whole academic year, which started in January.

"I'm not worried because I'm sure I'll get my results, it's just a matter of when," said second-year SIM-RMIT student Mark Tan, 23.