Introduction

In October 2011, the Australian Parliament passed legislation to allow Universities and other higher education providers, to charge a compulsory Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) from 2012 (see the Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Student Services and Amenities) Act 2011).

Following preliminary discussions with student representatives on the University Council, University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU), Melbourne University Student Union Limited (MUSUL), the Graduate Student Association (GSA) and Melbourne University Overseas Students Service (MUOSS), the University developed a proposal for the implementation of the fee and the distribution of its revenues.

These pages outline the details of proposal, as well as the calls for (and response to) student feedback on the proposed distribution of revenues raised.

Proposal summary

The proposed fee structure for all students in 2012 was as follows:

  • $263 fee for full-time students
  • $197 fee for part-time students
  • Fee deferral is available for Australian citizens and permanent humanitarian visa holders enrolled in award courses
  • The SSAF for international students will be included in course fees

The consequences for revenue were (and are) as follows:

  • $11.68m total revenue in 2012 (up from $5.6m in 2011)
  • Revenue raised must relate to the provision of specific non-academic and non-political services. See Expenditure of the SSAF for more information

Principles for the allocation of funds

The following principles were adopted for the proposed allocation of funds collected from the SSAF. The allocation of funds will:

  1. Maintain current funding levels provided to recipients under the University’s transition funding agreement;
  2. Support and strengthen the capacity of the University’s independent student-run organisations;
  3. Comply with the SSAF Act;
  4. Increase service provision to students in the areas specified by the SSAF Act;
  5. Ensure a fair and reasonable distribution of funds between recipient organisations; and
  6. Provide recipient organisations with greater long-term funding certainty.

The funds cannot be used to cover the cost of collecting and administering the SSAF.

Proposed allocation of funding

In line with the principles outlined above, it was proposed that revenue be allocated as outlined in the table and graph below. More information on the allocation of revenue is available in the details of the proposed allocation of funding section.

Organisation Base funding* (2011) New/Additional (2012) Total (2012) % increase
MUSUL $2,011,302 $1,000,000 $3,011,302 + 50%
UMSU $1,551,375 $713,823 $2,265,198 + 46%
GSA $1,172,616 $490,680 $1,663,296 + 42%
Advocacy N/A $400,000 $400,000 N/A
MU Sport $1,626,690 $958,983 $2,585,673 + 59%
Children's Services $159,000 $92,976 $251,976 + 58%
Student Services N/A $1,500,000 $1,500,000 N/A
TOTAL $6,520,983 $5,156,462 $11,677,445 + 79%

* Base funding includes the 2011 allocation, plus any membership fee revenue collected under VSU.

For a full summary of the activities proposed by the recipient organisations upon receipt of revenue collected through the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF), please refer to the Proposed activities page.

Proposal timeline

Action Date
Federal Parliament passes the Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Student Services and Amenities) Bill 2011, an amendment to the Higher Education Support Act 2003. 11 October 2011
The University meets with student organisations to discuss proposal for distributing SSAF revenue. 2 November 2011
Recipient organisations to provide outline proposals for the use of additional funding. 9 November 2011
The University is required to report to DEEWR on the fees proposed to be charged to different student cohorts, the number of students in each group eligible for SA-HELP and the University’s estimated SA-HELP payment. 9 November 2011
Consultation period commences. 11 November 2011
Senior Executive to consider proposal and impact on University budget. 16 November 2011
Consultation period closes. 25 November 2011
The University is required to publish its fee schedule for any SSAF payable in semester 1 2012. By 1 December 2011
University Council to consider proposal on collecting and distributing SSAF. 5 December 2011

Feedback

Thank you to all of those students who submitted feedback on the Student Services and Amenities Fee proposal. The University received 564 submissions on the proposal and a summary of your feedback was presented to University Council for its meeting on 5 December as follows:

Summary of feedback received

Feedback Number of responses % of total responses
Support the fee 42 7.5%
Object to the fee 325 57.6%
Comments on distribution 123 21.8%
Total comments received 490
No content* 74 13.1%
TOTAL 564 100%

* These were submissions to the comment web form that contained no content.

Of the 123 comments received about the proposed distribution of the SSAF, there was support for increasing the allocation to a number of recipients, particularly UMSU, MU Sport and Children’s Services, as well as number of arguments for reducing or maintaining the proposed allocations to student associations and MU Sport.

Overall, the responses did not provide conclusive directions for changing the proposed allocation. A large number did not suggest an alternate distribution but made comments about how the funds should be used by the recipients. Some of these suggestions have already been proposed by recipients, and all of them will be forwarded to SSAF recipients and to relevant areas of the University for consideration. These suggestions included:

  • Dental service
  • Mature age club and lounge
  • More facilities around campus (such as microwaves, hot water)
  • Cheaper, better food
  • Arts programs
  • Communal garden
  • Transition to a Fair Trade university
  • Services for part-time graduate students; off-campus students; college students
  • Funds for student societies not affiliated with UMSU/MUSUL

The University will continue to work with student associations and student representatives to deliver effective and efficient services across all campuses, and to report on the use of SSAF to students.

Re-calculation of planned distribution

It also reported to Council that a number of queries had been received from student representatives about the calculation of the 'no worse off' position for the recipients of VSU transitional funding, and that the University had sought further information from them in order to review this calculation.

Given the range of calculations used by the recipients and the need for consistency, the University recommended to Council that the 'no worse off' position be defined as an average of direct income foregone 2009-2011. This decision changed the overall allocation of SSAF revenue as outlined below:

Organisation Base funding* (2011) New/Additional (2012) Total (2012) % increase
MUSUL $2,046,909 $1,000,000 $3,046,909 + 49%
UMSU $1,448,237 $988,273 $2,436,510 + 65%
GSA $1,058,750 $667,118 $1,725,868 + 63%
Advocacy N/A $400,000 $400,000 N/A
MU Sport $1,253,000 $1,027,696 $2,280,696 + 82%
Children's Services $159,000 $128,462 $287,462 + 81%
Student Services N/A $1,500,000 $1,500,000 N/A
TOTAL $5,965,896 $5,711,549 $11,677,445 + 96%

* Base funding calculated as described in Re-calculation of planned distribution above.

University Council endorsement

University Council endorsed the collection of the SSAF from semester 1 2012 at its meeting on 5 December 2011 and the principles underpinning the proposed allocation of SSAF revenue.

More detail

More detail on the proposal, including detailed funding allocation information, the funding agreement, and for the rules governing expenditure of the SSAF revenue, please refer to the details page.

Feedback now open

We are now seeking your feedback on how well you feel the SSAF funds have been allocated and used.

Use the form at the bottom of this page to submit your comments.


Go to the form now

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