Thursday, 25 September 2008
Voluntary Student Unionism
- That the Senate—
- recognises that university enrolments for 2009 are due to begin in the week beginning 28 September 2008 around the country;
- the summary report, The impact of voluntary student unionism on services, amenities and representation for Australian university students, dated April 2008, that specifically highlighted the devastating impact voluntary student unionism (VSU) has had on the quality of student support services on campuses across the country,
- the alternative solutions to the current system of VSU put forward by a number of key stakeholders, including a proposal based on a combination of shared funding arrangements between students, universities and government, and
- the Government’s commitment to restoring essential student services and representation; and
- calls on the Minister for Education (Ms Gillard) to confirm before enrolments for the 2009 university calendar commence, that the current system of VSU will be scrapped to address the regressive impact VSU has had on student services and the educational experience, to ensure any change in legislation is in place before 2010.
by leave—The government’s consultations on VSU have supported our view that this policy has had a substantial negative impact for students and the higher education sector. The Rudd government is committed to ensure that university students have access to vital campus services and amenities including child care, health care, counselling and sporting facilities as well as a democratic representation advocacy.
We have no plans to reinstate compulsory student unionism and will not be returning to the hefty upfront fees that the previous government allowed to exist at some universities. There has been a range of alternative solutions put forward by the sector but no consensus. We want to provide a sustainable and robust solution to address the ongoing costs of student services, amenities and representation. The government will of course not be rushed on this and is undertaking a proper process to ensure it gets the policy right. In the interim, we have provided some additional support for student amenities and services through the $500 million better universities renewal funding and $23.9 million in additional funding to increase child care assistance for parents who are studying at university.
That the motion (Senator Hanson-Young’s) be agreed to.