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April 4, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Prez Col- Whitu

My years living in a small Japanese town gave me some of the best memories and experiences, which shaped my childhood in ways one in spent exclusively in New Zealand could never do.

For two years I slugged it out as the only foreigner on the school roll. I picked up fluent Japanese to the point my friends’ mothers couldn’t distinguish my nihongo banter from their own children’s. I had a pet turtle, only to lose it on doctor’s orders—to the nearby river. My friends and I would catch and keep the same beetles that inspired Beetleborgs, and we enjoyed an independence and freedom unimaginable in New Zealand.

Then there were the moments you could only get once. I followed my dad around suburban Hiroshima while he photographed Hibakusha—the surviving victims of the 1945 atomic bomb for a UN anniversary exhibition. Even though they had suffered many years of intense discrimination, we were welcomed into their homes.
As a young Kiwi kid, these experiences and the constant reminders of the effects and indignity of the Bomb around the city, including shadows left by vapourised victims on the pavement, and everything else I got up to, made sure my Japanese childhood would stick with me and help influence the rest of my life. Of course I’ve probably conveniently forgotten the bad bits of my childhood. But why dwell on that?

Student Services Levies

Last week Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce finally finished having his “close look” at student services levies. Institutions will now need to be more upfront and transparent on what the fees are and what they are for. It’s not so impossible and is a step in the right direction. While this is not an entirely foreign concept at Victoria (for this kind of levy), it will be for many other institutions.

Since 2010, VUWSA has been working in partnership helping the University achieve just that. You, through VUWSA, have 50:50 oversight of your levy. As a result the revenue is ring fenced, there is more targeted and regular research and student consultation, as well as rolling reviews of all the services the levy funds. This brings the transparency and accountability that students (and the Minister) want from student levies.

VUWSA’s continued advocacy has ensured you have the right to have a huge say in your levy and how it is spent. We’ve also asked the questions that needed to be asked. After all, we are the main funders, and the only users of the services—students know best.

VUWSA Survey

Towards the end of last year, VUWSA carried out a significant survey of all students. More than 4000 students responded to the survey, which measured four main indicators: awareness, use, performance and importance of what VUWSA does. It was heartening to see that overall, students had a positive perception of VUWSA and the value for money it provided. This new information has put the Executive and students in a powerful position to make changes to improve the work VUWSA does. The full report can be found on our website. Thank you to all who participated.

Have a great week!
Seamus Brady

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Comments (2)

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  1. My Name says:

    Why do you say that students had a positive perception of the value for money when most students seemed to suggest the cost is too high?

  2. Seamus says:

    Because overall perceptions of value for money had a mean score of 6.3 out of 10 – a high mean for any organisation according to TNS. While overall, answers to the question about the level of the VUWSA levy showed that 47% said it’s about right, 6% said it should be higher, 10% didn’t know and 38% said it should be lower. As I mentioned above, this survey and its results will help VUWSA improve the work it does for students.

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