How are student unions
coping with the end of no-ticket, no start education from July 1?

At enrolment time at Sydney University the
Student Representative Council president, Nick Wood, estimated about 20
per cent of the new arrivals paid their $34 membership fees – far more than
expected, according to The SMH,
but not enough to keep the organisation afloat.

Wood’s colleagues at the University of Canberra are
smarter, the RiotACT reports.
Students there received this email last week:

It has
been brought to the attention of the University that students may have received
an invoice from the UC Students’ Association. The invoice bears the Association
logo and is for the amount of $50. Students have contacted the University confused
about the status of the invoice and whether they are required to pay the
amount. Please be advised that the University did not sanction the production
of the invoice. The invoice was issued without any formal advice from the
Student Association to the University.

In late
2005 the Australian Senate approved the Higher Education Support Amendment
(Abolition of Compulsory Up-front Student Union Fees) Bill 2005. The Bill
prohibits Higher Education Providers from requiring a student to become a
member of a student organisation as a condition of enrolment or from charging a
student an amenities fee for services that are not of an academic nature,
unless the student has chosen to utilise that service. The University of Canberra was able to charge an Amenities and
Services Fee (ASF) in Semester 1, 2006 under the terms of the legislation but will not
charge the ASF for Semester 2, 2006 or any subsequent semester. This was explained in
Student Bulletin 01/06.

The
Student Association is within its rights to seek your membership and seek
payment of membership fees. However, students are not under any obligation to
become a member of the Student Association or pay the membership fee of $50…

It’s nice to know that some things never
change. Compulsory student unionism might be gone, but student pols are as
tricksy as ever while university administrations remain beacons of moral
courage.

Peter Fray

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