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May 21, 2018 | by  | in News | [ssba]

NZUSA Scraping Bottom of Barrel

Following an emergency committee meeting, Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association has voted to pay $22,750 of their 2019 levy to the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) last Monday. The vote was passed with one abstention from Treasurer Jack Donovan.

Matt Tucker, VUWSA CEO, said that this payment will not have an effect on VUWSA’s 2018 budget, as VUWSA is treating this as an advanced payment. He said that “as an accounting practice this is not considered unusual and has happened in past years”.

NZUSA has requested early levies from six of its student association members, which NZUSA president Jonathan Gee said came as “a bit of a shock” to members.

All six member associations from which NZUSA have requested early payment have voted to pay part of their 2019 levy early. The associations are VUWSA, Otago University Students’ Association, Lincoln University Students’ Association, Massey University Student Association, and Albany Students’ Association.

While NZUSA’s 2018 budget passed without deficit, Gee said they “incurred a number of unexpected costs,” and “as a small organization with limited cash reserves, the situation came to a head”.

The Executive Director of NZUSA had resigned in February this year after six years on the job, which meant there was a significant amount of leave entitlements to be paid out. NZUSA Finance Chair Caitlin Barlow-Groome said the resignation was “detrimental to the association”. Gee said that the financial situation of NZUSA for the last six years has been “precarious”, after the Voluntary Student Membership (VSM) Bill passed in 2011. VSM means that it is no longer compulsory for students to pay student union memberships. As a result, income for student associations now comes from the Student Services Levy, which is set by the university.

In 2011, NZUSA received $460,000 revenue from student association levies. In 2012, this number dropped to $189,000. In 2018, they received $180,000 of funding. NZUSA has passed a number of deficit budgets since 2011. NZUSA was founded in 1929 to advocate for and represent students. They lobby MPs to support student friendly policies, provide training to student associations, and conduct research to ensure their platforms are evidence based.

In the post-VSM climate it was a “struggle” for NZUSA to continue, said Gee. However, he mentioned that there is a “strong desire amongst our membership to see us survive and succeed in the future”, which he said was demonstrated in the student associations’ decisions to pay early.

Gee said disbanding VSM is “definitely on the agenda” for NZUSA. He added that they “try to be evidence based”, and want to find out more about the implications of VSM before planning any campaigns.


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