Currently, student unions are funded by university management, who allocates the Student Services Amenities Fee (SSAF) to their respective student union(s). Management has full discretion in most states to determine how much to pass on to the student union (the exception is WA where they are required to give the student union at least 50%).
Each year student organisations must put their hands out and negotiate with university management in order to receive this funding. These negotiations have a fundamentally unequal power balance where management holds all of the cards. This stunts student organisations’ autonomy in holding universities to account and, forces them to toe the line as any campaign against management could be used as justification to defund these organisations.
The NUS fundamentally believes in student money in student’s hands
Student unions and associations are being threatened and defunded all across the country. La Trobe student Union has had to fight for survival year after year after its funding was cut from $2.8 million in 2020 to $275,000 in 2021- devastating the union.
Student unions are essential for universities. The administration of student-run clubs and societies, volunteering programs, leadership opportunities and social events are all the responsibility of strong student unions. Vital support services – including independent advocacy, financial aid, legal services and wellbeing programs like food banks and free breakfasts – are all best managed by the independent student union. And importantly, student unions provide a strong and informed student voice on campus, an important check and balance on university activities to ensure that student interests are being looked after.
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National Union of Students acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the unceded lands and waters across Australia where it conducts its business.
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