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August 21, 2017 | by  | in News Splash |
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Drove My Chevy to the Levee But the Levee Was Dry

The VUW Student Services Levy (SSL) ran a deficit of $253,896 in 2016, due to more demand on services and a higher number of rebates being processed.

This follows four years of deficits: $40,372 in 2015, $73,775 in 2014, $4,383 in 2013, and $153,895 in 2012.

The SSL is a fund that facilitates key support services for VUW students, including health and counselling, recreation, careers information, clubs and societies, child care, financial support, advocacy, and media.

When asked whether the deficit had the potential to impact services, VUWSA President Rory Lenihan-Ikin said that VUWSA are not “too concerned,” pointing out that the deficit represents only “1.6% of the total levy.”

In 2016 the total income of the SSL was $15,619,427. This comprises of $12,424,582 received from students through the Compulsory Student Service Fee (CSSF), as well as income received through medical and other fees.

The CSSF is paid by all domestic and international students. In 2016 it was $742, of which $718 is allocated to the SSL.

Director of Student Academic Services, Pam Thorburn, said the SSL revenue in 2016 was lower than budgeted, “due, in part, to more than anticipated rebates being processed, but also lower than budgeted student numbers enrolled in 2016.”

According to Student Academic Services policy, there are a number of reasons that qualify students for a rebate on part or all of the levy. For example, those who “only require one trimester to complete their degree” are eligible for a rebate of 50%.

Lenihan-Ikin suggested budgeting for rebates is “pretty tricky” because “numbers vary from year to year.”

The Student Services Levy 2016 Year End Report, which was approved on May 16, states that “higher fixed-term and temporary staff costs to manage increased demand for services also contributed to higher than budgeted costs.”

When asked to elaborate on this, Thorburn said the staff increases applied mainly to Health and Counselling, “but the higher demand for services relates to all Careers, Student Finance, and Disability Services.”

Decisions to increase the SSL fee are made by the Advisory Committee on the Student Services Levy (ACSSL), on which sit Thorburn and Lenihan-Ikin, as well as the Director of Campus Services Rainsforth Dix and VUWSA Welfare Vice-President Anya Maule.

When asked whether the current total deficit of $351,483 that the SSL had going into 2017 would result in a fee rise greater than usual in 2018, the Associate Director (Management and Administration) of Student Academic Services Heather Linn stated “a recommendation for the 2018 SSL has been put forward by [ACSSL] for inclusion in the fees paper to Council.”

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