Expenditure of the SSAF
The SSAF Act stipulates that expenditure of SSAF revenue must relate to the provision of the following services:
- providing food or drink to students on a campus of the higher education provider;
- supporting a sporting or other recreational activity by students;
- supporting the administration of a club most of whose members are students;
- caring for children of students;
- providing legal services to students;
- promoting the health or welfare of students;
- helping students secure accommodation;
- helping students obtain employment or advice on careers;
- helping students with their financial affairs;
- helping students obtain insurance against personal accidents;
- supporting debating by students;
- providing libraries and reading rooms (other than those provided for academic purposes) for students;
- supporting an artistic activity by students;
- supporting the production and dissemination to students of media whose content is provided by students;
- helping students develop skills for study, by means other than undertaking courses of study in which they are enrolled;
- advising on matters arising under the higher education provider’s rules (however described);
- advocating students’ interests in matters arising under the higher education provider’s rules (however described);
- giving students information to help them in their orientation; and
- helping meet the specific needs of overseas students relating to their welfare, accommodation and employment.
The above services can be delivered by the provider or by a third party on behalf of the provider. Allowable expenditure related to the provision of the above services includes:
- Expenditure by the higher education provider in directly providing the service;
- Expenditure in engaging a third party to deliver the service; and
- Expenditure by the provider on infrastructure for the provision of the service.
Providers must not allow fee revenue to be used to support political parties, or to support the election of a person to a Commonwealth or State or Territory Parliament or local Government body.
Details of the proposed allocation of funding
The recipient organisations should be no worse off as a result of the SSAF implementation.
The base funding to current recipients is therefore their current allocation under the transition agreement and any membership fee revenue that they have been able to collect under VSU or costs incurred as a result of SSAF implementation.
The recipient organisations were asked for the impact of lost fee revenue on their total income to ensure that the base funding level was a fair representation of current funding levels.
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.
$1 million will be provided to MUSUL each year of the funding agreement for the sole purpose of undertaking capital works on Union House to improve the capacity of Union House to provide high quality services specified in the SSAF Act. The works program will be agreed with the University and covered by the funding agreement. Funding received for this purpose not spent by MUSUL in a calendar year may be accrued and spent for this purpose in future years.
Senior Executive will be asked to provide a matching annual contribution to support capital works.
Student Services will be allocated $1.5m to establish three student support teams, one in each of the three main precincts of the Parkville campus – Eastern (around the ERC and EPSC), Western (around the Baillieu and Old Arts), and Southern (University Square) – to provide advice and support to students on matters related to finance, housing, fees and scholarships, and employment.
All of these services are specified in the SSAF Act, which stipulates that the higher education provider can provide them directly using SSAF revenue. These support teams will also provide critical “on-the-ground” access to welfare and financial services; the National Access to Services Benchmarks, with which the University must comply from 1 January 2013, require that students are provided with information in both of these areas. This proposal would also provide an overall increase in the amount of advisory support available to students and locate it in high traffic areas where students naturally congregate.
It is also proposed to engage a Health Promotion Officer, a qualified professional based in the Health Service, to develop and deliver a package of health-promotion materials and specific initiatives, such as sexual health, drug and alcohol issues, lifestyle and mental health issues. The Officer would also develop collaborative programs in conjunction with state and federal government health agencies for the provision of low-cost screening and health evaluations on campus.
In addition, part of the total funding allocation for Student Services would be directed towards the development of new careers programs and services. In particular, a student employment office would be established with the aim of employing 1,000 students on campus each year, working with different divisions and organisations in the University to identify roles, acting as a training 'centre' for the students@work scheme across campus, and managing the associated administration and processes.
Some of the additional funding would also be directed to extended opening hours in some key services and providing greater support to non-Parkville campuses. Student Services will discuss any extension of services and other campus requirements with student associations and publish an annual statement on the use of this funding.
Shared advocacy service
UMSU and the GSA both provide an advocacy service, and the Provost has been working with both organisations to establish a single shared service for all students.
$400,000 will be deducted from the base funding for UMSU and the GSA ($200,000 each) to create an allocation of $400,000 to support a shared advocacy service. This allocation will be made to either UMSU or the GSA subject to a tender process.
Additional funding for distribution
The additional funding available in a given calendar year will be the total SSAF revenue less the “off-the-top” allocations for base funding, MUSUL and Student Services. For 2012, this amount is expected to be $2,656,462.
This funding will be distributed to UMSU, the GSA, MU Sport and Children’s Services in line with the proportions they receive from the Base Funding allocation.
2012 funding distribution by organisation
Under the transitional funding arrangements 2007-2011, MUSUL and the student associations received 75-77% of available funding (77% 2007-2008 and 75% 2009-2011) and MU Sport and Children’s Services received 23-25% (23% 2007-2008 and 25% 2009-2011).
Under this proposal, 63% of funding would be distributed to MUSUL and the student associations and 37% to the University (24% of the total pool would continue to flow through to MU Sport and Children’s Services).
This is a substantially more beneficial distribution for student organisations than the 2009 proposal, endorsed by Senior Executive, which proposed splitting the anticipated 2010 revenue on a 50:50 basis, 50% to MUSUL and student organisations and 50% to the University.
It also provides a far greater share than the proposed Greens amendment to the SSAF Bill, which would have required a minimum of 30% of revenue to be passed directly to student organisations, the equivalent of $3.5m of the estimated 2012 revenue pool.
Funding distribution 2013-2016
The allocation to each recipient organisation in 2012 will form the basis of one-line funding allocations 2013-2016 and will increase annually in line with SSAF indexation (assuming no decrease in overall student numbers).
The total revenue pool generated each year may fluctuate in line with changes in the student profile – for example, increasing proportions of part-time students will reduce the size of the pool – and will be finalised after the biannual census dates.
Annual indexation will enable all recipients of SSAF funds to increase service delivery in 2012 and maintain these improved levels 2013-2016 as costs increase.
A funding agreement will be drafted by the University to govern the allocation of SSAF revenue to MUSUL and student organisations. The agreement will:
- be in place for five years from 2012 to 2016 as long as the SSAF legislation is in place;
- ensure that any increases in revenue are distributed in accordance with the proportions outlined for 2012;
- ensure that the use of SSAF revenue complies with the provisions of the SSAF Act;
- acknowledge the importance of maintaining and supporting student-run organisations and will respect the independence of these organisations;
- require student organisations to work together to deliver services efficiently and to minimise duplication of back-of-house and administrative functions;
- establish a tender process for a combined advocacy service to be funded equally by UMSU and the GSA and to be delivered either by UMSU or the GSA;
- require that the additional $1m of annual additional funding provided to MUSUL be spent on or reserved for capital works to improve the capacity of Union House to provide high quality services to students;
- expect student organisations to direct part of their additional funding to supporting students at non-Parkville campuses;
- expect MUSUL and UMSU to work together to determine whether any services currently delivered by MUSUL should be transferred to UMSU over the life of the funding agreement; and
- require an audit and review process to be completed regularly in accordance with University specifications to ensure business practices in student organisations comply with relevant legislation and University policy, and that University policy is consistently applied across organisations (for example, University OHS procedures, and space charging policy).
Student Representatives Advisory Group
Ongoing consultation with students on the collection and use of SSAF will occur via regular monthly meetings of the Student Representatives Advisory Group.
This group will also contribute to the development of University-wide plans for student facilities, develop criteria for the tender process for the advocacy service, and provide a forum to discuss and coordinate services and amenities for students. The group will provide advice on the allocation of any additional SSAF revenue that may be generated following clarification of the status of Melbourne Business School (MBS) and Melbourne Custom and Consulting Program (MCCP) students.
The group will be chaired by the Provost, and include the Executive Director (Student Services) and Academic Registrar, the Provost’s Fellow in Student Experience (Professor Phil Batterham), the Presidents of UMSU, the GSA and MUOSS, the Director of MU Sport, the CEO of MUSUL, and the Director, Office of the Provost.
Consultation with students
The National Student Representation and Advocacy Protocols (Protocols) set out as part of the Guidelines require that higher education providers have a formal process of consultation with democratically elected student representatives as well as representatives of student organisations regarding the use of SSAF revenue.
The Protocols specify that consultation must include:
- publishing identified priorities for proposed fee expenditure and allowing opportunities to comment by students and student organisations; and
- meeting with democratically elected student representatives and student organisations to consider where the revenue can be spent.
This proposal for the distribution of SSAF revenue has been developed in consultation with the student representatives on University Council and reflects input from student associations about the effect of SSAF implementation on their anticipated income for 2012.
The Provost and Executive Director (Student Services) and Academic Registrar met with representatives of student organisations on 2 November 2011 to discuss the proposal and have incorporated their feedback into a revised draft. This draft will be released for comment by the broader student body on Friday 11 November to meet consultation and reporting requirements set by the legislation and DEEWR. The Provost will send an email to all students to outline the proposal and next steps, encourage them to read and comment on the draft and provide information about how to submit feedback.
Given the requirements outlined in the Protocols, recipient organisations will need to provide some broad outline of how they propose to utilise the additional funds received under this proposal.