Negotiations between student bodies and the University regarding the allocation of the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) have stalled and are not expected to conclude until at least May.
This delay has hampered the ability of student organisations to determine their budgets for the coming year.
The SSAF allocation is determined yearly by the Student Consultative Committee, and in 2013 represented a funding pool of $12,203,401. In 2013 they had reached a decision by March.
Notably, the Committee is student in name only. Neither SUSF President Bruce Ross nor USU CEO Andrew Woodward are students, but both have played a major role in the negotiations.
The inability of student groups to budget until they reach an agreement raises questions about how they will manage the provision of services in the short term.
USU President Hannah Morris said the existing January-April funding round would keep the Union afloat for the forthcoming period, though ideally the USU would want to reach an agreement well before April. This currently appears unlikely.
SUPRA president Joanne Gad said that SUPRA was put in a difficult position by the delay. The postgraduate organisation “can’t just hope for funding and budget on those terms”, she said. SSAF funding will not be allocated until the Student Consultative Committee comes to a consensus decision.
The organisations, which responded to Honi, indicated an interest to work with other student groups, in order to secure adequate funding and provide a holistic student experience.
This goodwill has evidently not been enough to force a decision. The inability of the Committee to agree will likely harm the activities of all student organisations.
A source close to the Union Board, who wishes to remain anonymous, has told Honi the USU is facing a potential budget deficit. “A reduction in the current SSAF request would necessitate reconsideration of the Union’s finances over the coming year,”
the source revealed.
A separate anonymous source has provided similar, unverifiable allegations regarding SUSF to Honi.
Sydney University Sport and Fitness refused comment to a number questions or on anything regarding SSAF negotiations.
The SRC declined to give further comment on the negotiations for fear of disadvantaging their bargaining position.
The Cumberland Student Guild did not respond to Honi’s repeated requests for comment.