Associations Abandon Uni Sport

by / 05/06/12

Everyone to pay the bill

University Sport New Zealand (USNZ) is the latest students’ association service to be bailed out by tertiary institutions, following Voluntary Student Membership—though this time it’s also the tax-payer and the Students’ Services Levy picking up the tab.

USNZ, which has been governed by its eight students’ association members, will move to a board consisting of a mixture of universities’ and Independent Tertiary Providers’ representatives—with them taking five seats, and only two being available for student representatives.

This change was one of many recommendations made following an independent review of the organisation, which produced a report outlining how best to ensure its long-term viability following the reduced revenue of member associations due to VSM.

The Maister Report was supported by only five of the eight students’ associations, with VUWSA President Bridie Hood voting against. She said that while VUWSA supported a number of the recommendations and recognised the position USNZ was in, she didn’t think that it was time to give up ownership of the group—which students had controlled for 100 years.

“University Sport New Zealand is something that students and students’ associations have driven since its establishment. This has resulted in USNZ hosting events that students want to be involved in, it’s not guided by any other interests or agendas,” Hood said.

“These recommendations were sold as ‘all or nothing’. There were other options and funding models that could have been explored that would let students and Student Associations retain governance of the organisation.”

USNZ will effectively be partnering with other national sports organisations, so that it can become a “more visible part of New Zealand’s national sporting framework.” Though nothing is confirmed yet, it is expected that Sport New Zealand—previously known as SPARC—is willing to fund some of its operations.

USNZ has received criticism for the value it gives to students for the amount of revenue it received. The report noted that there had been a “declining participation in, and reduction of sports on offer, at the annual University Student Games.” As well as “a strong feeling of ‘lack of a proposition in the offering of services provided by USNZ to member organisations, in relation to the levies charged.”

Members of USNZ will have to pay membership levies, which may be paid for through the compulsory Students’ Services Levy.

The mission statement will remain the same, though with a “distinctly new role, focused on student participation in Sport and Recreation.” There are plans to move more into other areas such as high performance, research and lobbying.

USNZ will continue to co-ordinate sports activities, and inter-institution events such as Uni Games—which apparently Victoria hosted this year—will be retained, though reviewed to ensure they are more cost effective for students.

A transition board has been established which over the next few months will begin to work through the report’s recommendations, before they become formally adopted at the end of the year.

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