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Slashing up-front fees for students: voluntary student unionism legislation introduced.



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Media Release

SLASHING UP-FRONT FEES FOR STUDENTS -VOLUNTARY STUDENT UNIONISM LEGISLATION INTRODUCED

16 March, 2005 MIN 1062/05

The Howard Government has today introduced legislation into Parliament that will make student union payments voluntary.

Students who enrol at Australian universities to study for a degree should not be forced into union membership or forced to pay compulsory union fees.

From 2006, no student will be forced to join a student organisation, union or guild or pay a fee to an institution for non-academic amenities, facilities or services. This is the 21st Century. Union membership should be voluntary and services should not be propped up by the compulsory appropriation of students’ hard earned money.

Australian students currently pay between $100 and $590 a year in union fees as a condition of enrolment. These fees are unconnected to students’ academic courses and are charged with no regard for their ability to pay.

In 2004, student unions acquired more than $160 million in compulsory fees from Australian full-time undergraduate students. The list is topped by the University of Sydney, whose 26,517 students were forced to pay $14.19 million, with yearly fees up to $590. Monash University students were next, having been forced to pay $13.4 million in compulsory fees. (see attached list of all universities).

Student union representatives regularly claim that compulsory fees fund services. However they do not mention the facilities, allowances and air travel for student union officers which are also funded by fees. Many students who are forced to pay these fees would not even realise their money is being used to fund these activities.

Part-time students and external students, who may never set foot on a campus, are also required to pay compulsory fees for services they do not use.

Why is it that a single mother training to be a nurse should pay for the canoeing or mountaineering club when all she wants is a degree? However, any student who wants to be part of a sporting or social club should have the right to do so and this legislation will allow those students to pay for those services if they make that choice.

Australian university students should enjoy the same rights on campus as they enjoy off campus. This legislation will give them those rights.

I call on the Labor Party to join with the Government in freeing students from the financial burden of compulsory up-front student union fees.

Media Contacts: Dr Nelson’s Office: Yaron Finkelstein 0414 927 663

COMPULSORY UNIVERSITY GENERAL SERVICE AND AMENITIES UP-FRONT FEES 2005

Institution

Indicative Max. Annual Fee (U/grad F/Time, 2005)

Total F/time U/grad

Students, 2004*

Estimated Total Compulsory Fees 2005

Charles Sturt University

$ 272.00 12,390 $ 3.37m

Macquarie University $ 356.00 12,712 $ 4.53m

Southern Cross University

$ 349.80 5,896 $ 2.06m

The University of New England

$ 370.00 6,088 $ 2.25m

The University of New South Wales

$ 502.60 20,146 $ 10.13m

The University of Newcastle

$ 364.00 13,429 $ 4.89m

The University of Sydney

(new) 590.00 26,517 $ 14.19m

(continuing) 481.00

University of Technology, Sydney

$ 420.00 14,580 $ 6.12m

University of Western Sydney

$ 364.00 19,959 $ 7.27m

University of Wollongong

$ 351.50 11,013 $ 3.87m

NSW Sub-total $ 58.68m

Deakin University $ 261.00 16,406 $ 4.28m

La Trobe University $ 360.00 16,311 $ 5.87m

Monash University $ 441.20 30,366 $ 13.40m

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

$ 500.00 22,534 $ 11.27m

Swinburne University of Technology

$ 304.00 7,767 $ 2.36m

The University of Melbourne

$ 392.00 25,656 $ 10.06m

University of Ballarat $ 258.00 4,413 $1.14m

Victoria University of Technology

$ 295.00 10,725 $3.16m

Victoria Sub-total $ 51.54m

Central Queensland University

$ 264.00 10,062 $ 2.66m

Griffith University $ 306.00 20,095 $ 6.15m

James Cook University $ 275.00 8,445 $ 2.32m

Queensland University of Technology

$ 242.00 23,772 $ 5.75m

The University of Queensland

$ 272.00 22,894 $ 6.23m

University of Southern Queensland

$ 360.80 7,277 $ 2.63m

University of the Sunshine Coast

$ 210.00 2,475 $ 0.52m

Queensland Sub-total $ 26.26m

Curtin University of Technology

$ 110.00 21,475 $ 2.36m

Edith Cowan University

$ 100.00 13,069 $ 1.31m

Murdoch University $ 140.00 7,069 $ 0.99m

The University of Western Australia

$ 120.00 10,937 $ 1.31m

Western Australia Sub-total $ 5.97m

The Flinders University of South Australia

$ 362.80 7,940 $ 2.88m

The University of Adelaide

$ 326.70 10,820 $ 3.53m

University of South Australia

$ 273.50 16,650 $ 4.55m

South Australia Sub-total $ 10.96m

University of Tasmania $ 244.00 10,892 $ 2.66m

Tasmania Sub-total $ 2.66m

Charles Darwin University

$ 216.00 1,956 $ 0.42m

Northern Territory Sub-total $ 0.42m

The Australian National University

$ 220.00 7525 $ 1.66m

University of Canberra $ 270.00 5453 $ 1.47m

ACT Sub-total $ 3.13m

Australian Catholic University

$ 310.00 7,182 $ 2.23m

Multi- State Sub-total $ 2.23m

TOTAL $ 161.84m

*NB: Amounts were calculated on 2004 u/graduate full-time enrolments and do not include compulsory up front fees collected by universities from p/graduate or p/time students.