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March 1, 2010 | by  | in Features |
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Salient stands for awesome

Or: Salient’s guide to tertiary education acronyms

So, btw, wtf, lol, you may have noticed that your BFFs here at Salient spur off a number of acronyms in the news section. After hanging around tertiary education for a while, you get pretty used to these. But for newbies, as I’m sure a lot of you are, it’s not quite so obvious. Let us help you out, ftw. 

VUWSA: Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association

You hear about these cats quite a lot. You are auto-magically subscribed to VUWSA at the beginning of every year you enrol at Vic. VUWSA is governed by a student representative body, called the executive. The president this year is Max Hardy. He had a lot of not-so-subtle erection jokes in his presidential campaign in 2009 that most people felt a disconcerting mix of amusement and disgust towards.

A levy of $131.90 was paid to VUWSA through your fees. Some of this money goes towards making Salient (though the magazine has editorial independence, so we can keep the executive in check); some goes to free BBQs in the quad; some goes to the Food Bank, which offers you a food parcel in your time of need; some of it goes towards coordinating the class representative system. There’s heaps of other stuff they do too, but it takes too long to write about all that.

You can find VUWSA on the Ground Floor of the Student Union Building on Kelburn Campus, where they can tell you all about themselves. Go ahead, they’ll love it. Oh, and there’s the VUWSA website (, which is totes helpful too.

NZUSA: New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations

So, now you know what VUWSA is, you can understand what NZUSA is. NZUSA is at the top of the students’ association organisational food chain, and member associations, like VUWSA, and a lot of other students’ associations around the country, pay a levy to NZUSA for all that, y’know, collective strength and organisin’ an’ resource poolin’ stuff. They’re there to represent students at a national level, so they’re our voice. NZUSA headed the campaign for interest-free student loans, which shows that they can achieve some pretty cool stuff for students. NZUSA has two co-presidents this year, David Do and Pene Delaney. You’ll see them quoted in most articles that relate to tertiary education.

TMA: Te Mana Akonga

TMA is like NZUSA, but looks out specifically for the rights and welfare of Maori tertiary education students. The president is called a Tumuaki, and this year Jacqueline Poutu fills that role.

TEU: Tertiary Education Union

These peeps be representin’ your lecturers, the admin staff at Vic and—actually, well, everyone who works at Victoria University, and other tertiary education institutions across the country. They are pretty tight with NZUSA, and often work together on similar campaigns for the interests of students and tertiary education employees.

TIA: Tertiary Incentive Allowance

The TIA was formerly available to undergraduate students on the DPB, Widow’s Benefit and Emergency Maintenance Allowance. This was removed in the National Government’s 2009 Budget, which sucks since it means that vulnerable groups such as low-income women and disabled students have diminished access to tertiary education. Watch out for it in Salient this year.

USM/CSM: Universal Student Membership/Compulsory Student Membership

The current state of affairs where membership of a students’ association is universal: the levy to VUWSA—or whichever students’ association, depending on which tertiary institution you attend—comes automatically from your fees payment to the university. Students can ‘opt-out’ either individually (by means of conscientious objection, so the money does not go to the students’ association) or as a group (by way of a petition of 10% of the student population at any one institution).

VSM: Voluntary Student Membership

The situation where students must ‘opt in’ to students’ associations. The levy is not taken automatically so students must sign up to their students’ association with $130-odd bucks. This is what happens in Australia, where students’ associations receive much less in levies and must fundraise and rely on their institutions for support to keep running.

ASPA: Aotearoa Student Press Association

This is pretty much a collective of all the student mags in the country. We like to help each other out and share stories, features, spit and advice. Salient is part of ASPA. There’s a sweet awards ceremony every year. And we’re all committed to covering news and events that matter to students.

VBC: Victoria Broadcasting Club

Like Salient, but radio, basically. There appears to be something of a jovial rivalry between Salient and the Veebs, the cheeky scoundrels. They’re across the foyer from VUWSA, so if you fancy yourself as a bit of a Mikey Havoc or something equally lame (just kidding, but not about Mikey Havoc being lame, though), get yourself down there and volunteer. It’s pretty rad, in all honesty. Oh, and you can listen to it at 88.3FM. You can stream it from too, which is pretty cool.


A 2006 hit single that got old really quickly, just like the lame mockney accent used by the person who sings it. Ooooh, look, I’m so working class. Woo. Get back down into the mine where you came from then. I mean, she went to a private school. Wanker.
I hope this helps. If you read anything else and don’t get it, feel free to ask us. We’ve got nothing better to do.

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