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October 4, 2010 | by  | in News |
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VSM a goer, students’ associations rush to embezzle money before it runs out

Voluntary student membership (VSM) looks virtually certain to be introduced after the Education and Science select committee recommended the Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill be passed into law with only minor changes late last month.

The Act Party’s bill is almost guaranteed to become law after the National Government indicated it would support the bill through its second and third readings in Parliament.

Students’ associations and leaders around New Zealand condemned the committee’s decision, which came despite 98 per cent of submissions opposing the legislation. The Committee considered 4837 submissions after submissions closed on 31 March.

Most student leaders were outraged that, despite widespread opposition to the bill, it was endorsed by the select committee.

VUWSA President Max Hardy strongly opposed the decision and the effect it would have on services for students, including Victoria University’s Campus Hub development.

“Student support services, advocacy, representation, clubs, events and our contribution to major building projects like the recently tendered $62 million Campus Hub are now at serious risk.

“This decision, which flies in the face of 98 per cent of the submissions on the Bill, puts in jeopardy the quality of education and the student experience across New Zealand.

“VUWSA will be put in a position where it can no longer continue its significant contribution to students and to education at Victoria.”

Shortly after the select committee report was released, the Young Nats issued a press release in which they were strongly supportive of the Committee’s decision, saying, “this Government is giving choice back to students, and for that it should be applauded”.

The reality of VSM is that many smaller and less financially secure students’ associations are unlikely to survive in a meaningful form. A PricewaterhouseCoopers study commissioned by the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) reported that revenues from membership fees would all but dry up, leaving smaller associations without significant asset bases at risk of collapsing.

Concerns have also been raised in several quarters that the only real effect of the bill will be to shift the costs of student services and make them less transparent. Auckland University Student’s Association (AUSA) led the outcry over the shifting of costs, saying in a press release that VSM is a failed model which will ultimately end up costing students more for the same service levels. AUSA Education Vice-President Alex Nelder says “to provide the services we used to provide, the University of Auckland has one of the highest student services levies in the country. Students have no say over how high this fee is set, or where the money goes. The fee is much higher than at other campuses nationwide”.

The effects of VSM on students’ associations will not become apparent until at least 2012, as the bill is not intended to pass into law in time to affect operations for 2011.

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Comments (7)

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  1. Oliver says:

    Finally, getting a choice around student unions. If they provide bang for my buck then I will join, at this stage it’s not worth it for most students.

    Anyway – what are the fundamental cost drivers behind class reps and students attending council meetings. (the big “representation” things that they union does) I would have thought this must only account for a small % of VUWSAs current spending? how can representation be effected in any way?

  2. smackdown says:

    if salient dies where will i go :-(

  3. smackdown says:

    its so cold and there are screech owls hooting at me :-(

  4. Shitkicker says:

    If you want bang for your buck get a hooker duh

  5. BJ says:

    Sea-mus Bray-dy is already practicing his pimping skills in the hope they will serve him well come next year. Failing that, the market for man hookers is growing.

  6. smackdown says:

    kevin mealamu is my fav hooker

  7. alex says:

    Don’t be an idiot Oliver, I think you’d find that if you got sick, then Student Health would be ample ‘bang for your buck’. Or say you suddenly found yourself out of work and out of food, then VUWSA’s ability to give you a food package would be ‘bang for your buck’.

    In fact if you are that worried about value for money, then surely you realise that the economy of scale provided by VUWSA in its current form is the best bang for your buck that you can get, as if there weren’t so many people paying for the services provided by VUWSA, the cost of those services would inevitably rise.

    Is is any wonder that most students are against VSM, when for about $100 bucks a year you get extremely cheap medical care, someone to agitate to keep fees down, hardship assistance, a magazine, a radio station, etc. These can only be provided by student associations if everyone buys in.

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