It is difficult to imagine student associations getting off to a good start if voluntary membership is introduced in 2012.
In order to operate successful voluntary associations, a simple mechanism for joining the relevant association that is supported by good information about membership costs and benefits, as well as agreed fee collection systems, will be essential.
It is not possible to determine what membership costs or services that may be provided without an understanding of what type of relationship will exist between the University and the associations. This cannot be decided before the University fees for 2012 are set, and there is clarity about the legislation.
When students begin enrolling on October 1st they should have access to clear information about association services, benefits and costs. With the final form of the Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill still unknown, the University is unable to make changes to the enrolment and billing systems that would allow students to join a students association voluntarily.
The consequence for distance students will be the loss of a representative on campus who can advocate for students both as a group and individually. Scholarships, hardship grants, shuttle services, the OffCampus magazine, the extramural student’s graduation dinner, Review It, the contact course help desk, regional support, may also disappear.
The recommendation from the select committee was to give the associations about a year to prepare – let’s hope our law makers see sense and allow us reasonable time to prepare.