PDF version: EXMSS Draft Strategy and Position
Massey University Extramural Students’ Society
Draft Strategy and Position Document
Massey University Extramural Students’ Society Draft Strategy and Position
This document seeks to define the Extramural Student’s Society’s (EXMSS) position both in a strategic sense and regarding the practical day to day operation, delivering services and representation in 2012.
Key questions relating to the transition to voluntary membership are posed, such as, what is an acceptable mechanism of delivery of universal, student-delivered, student services? and what University support will be available for membership-based campus associations and societies?
This document is expected to generate discussion and support progress towards agreement regarding the manner in which services and representation are structured and delivered in 2012 and 2013.
A vision of how student associations will operate in a practical sense is required in order to consider the best structure to support both the membership-based student association and any universal service-providing organisation.
EXMSS is committed to providing services and representation for tertiary students studying at a distance from the institution.
Within the constraints of legislation, EXMSS is seeking to both represent, and deliver services to students. Considering the universal nature of many of the services, funding for these two endeavours necessarily must come from differing sources. Services made available to all students require funding from all students, whereas services not considered to be universally necessary require funding through subscription.
The mechanisms for funding are: for universal services, a University Levy, and for non-universal services a membership subscription to the student association or society.
Universal services provided by EXMSS and its affiliates will be accessible, professionally delivered and contribute to students’ success and wellbeing.
It is understood that the University will levy students in order to fund student services. Part of the levy may be spent on contracting services from service providers. By law, the scope and mix of all student service provision must be negotiated between students (or their representatives) and the University. The University is likely to seek connections between services delivered and University strategy. Funding quantum will be governed by student need, the service provision model, the total fund pool, and service priorities as agreed between students and the University.
Representation, both individual and on behalf of groups, alongside the provision of relevant information, will be the core subscription services delivered by EXMSS.
Alongside universal service provision, student associations may seek membership subscriptions. Membership subscriptions may be used, as the members of the Society agree, to provide services in alignment with the Society’s constitution.
However, without University processes to support the collection of membership subscriptions, the value of financial membership is lost. A productive call for membership by Student associations would require supporting information and systems: embedded information at the point of enrolment, material included in information packs, distance handbooks and study guides, an opportunity at enrolment for students to choose membership, and for the transaction to be managed by the University.
Universal Service Delivery
For distance students, information and pastoral support provided by students for students is seen as a crucial contributor to academic success and student wellbeing
Anecdotally distance students generally support the concept of student managed and governed universal student services that utilise funding provided by the University’s Student Services Levy. Distance students also appear to recognise the value of having student organisations deliver some student services as this offers some independence when advocating for, and providing information to students.
Proposing a Model
In order to deliver universal services to a diverse group of students, it is necessary to separate universal delivery of services from the subscription services that may be offered by student associations. Giving universal student delivered services an identity that is independent of the membership based student services student associations deliver, provides clarity for users and allows for the universal services to be delivered under an independent management model with a governance structure that acknowledges the multiform of potential service users.
By delivering universal student services through a jointly owned service organisation the needs and concerns of each of the campus associations are able to be addressed objectively and professionally.
Universal Student Delivered Services
Principles of a student owned service organisation:
Operated on behalf of the student body
Committed to providing equitable, accessible services
Aligned with University student success strategy
EXMSS supports the establishment of a service delivery organisation that is jointly owned by the Massey University Student Associations. This organisation could have a contractual relationship with the University, and would employ staff in order to fulfill its obligations. A portion of its funding would be provided through the University Student Services Levy on agreement between the student body (or its representatives) and the University. This organisation would be accountable to the funder (the University) and the joint owners.
Direction and oversight would be provided by a governance group made up of representatives from the student body and owning organisations. This group would hold responsibility, for the strategic direction of student delivered services according to the terms of the contract, and report to the University, the student body, and the student associations.
Characteristics of a Universal Student Delivered Services Organisation
|Equity across campuses||Similar services (based on outcome) are available to all students no matter their location, mode, course, or level of study.|
|No cost at point of use||Students can access services with no additional costs.|
|Professionally delivered||Operated under agreed systems and processes. Staff are qualified, trained and resourced to deliver required standards.|
|Efficient||Economical structures, focused on positive outcomes for students. Centralised administration with campus-based service delivery.|
|Accountable||Professional reporting of activity and results.|
|Responsive||Able to react to specific needs. Able to adjust when environmental factors change.|
|Representative||Accepts direction from the key stakeholders through agreed processes.|
|Easily accessed||Services are available in areas that are normally frequented by students. Services are signposted and visible on campuses and on the web. Literature and advertising is clear and available to students.|
Subscription Service Delivery
An independent EXMSS, presenting a student voice both nationally and to the University on issues that affect members, would hold common interests with the University such as the advancement of distance study and the support of life-long learning
Distance students generally support the concept of some services being provided through subscription and membership of a student society. EXMSS believes there is enough support for independent representation, and targeted information, for EXMSS to offer those services, alongside other benefits such as access to the Extramural Students Support Trust scholarships, in return for a subscription fee and Society membership, commencing in 2013.
In order to provide services to students, associations require the University’s support. The ability to attract members and have their membership and subscription transactions managed by the University is essential to the viability of a membership subscription service.
Support Required to Successfully Operate Subscription Services
|Student society information embedded in University literature such as enrolment packs, enrolment interface||Making students aware of all of the support and information available to them|
|Information about society membership and benefits offered by university staff to enquiring students||Making students aware of all of the support and information available to them|
|Membership options embedded into the university enrolment process||Allowing students to make decisions without additional hurdles|
|Subscription fee and member information collection||Provides the most cost effective mechanism for the collection of subscriptions and member information|
|Opportunities to be involved in the boards and committees of the University||Provides access to information that forms the basis of a key membership benefit|
|Access to University communications as a staff member||Provides access to information that forms the basis of a key membership benefit|
|Infrastructural support such as ITS support and office space||Provides the most cost effective mechanism for ensuring communication is maintained to a high standard|
By supporting EXMSS membership the University offers students an environment that promotes student engagement in matters that affect them, as well as supporting the wellbeing of a community of learners of strategic importance to the University
Service Delivery in 2012
Several steps mark the process of change: student consultation, interim service agreements, governance structures, future association support, and consideration of the enduring form of service delivery.
It will take time to agree to, and then construct a new model for service delivery. EXMSS suggests moving forward with a clear understanding of the universal services to be delivered in 2012 and allowing the enduring delivery structure to be developed in the background.
EXMSS believes student associations should negotiate which services are to be delivered in the interim and agreements reached by November 2011. Concurrently a decision about the support available for membership-based student associations is required as the decision to move to a new model is predicated on the absence of opposition from the members of that association; if the members are not convinced of the benefits of the new structure or they see the change as the precursor to the demise of the association they may not agree to the proposed changes.
EXMSS Interim Services
EXMSS interim services will seek efficiencies through partnership, and alignment with likely long-term services and strategic directions.
In providing interim services it is important to understand the timeframe to which they apply. This will allow accurate costing and the ability to manage change, particularly human resource change, seamlessly.
A schedule of interim services and costs, provided by each association, and highlighting areas where services are jointly provided, should be urgently discussed with the University.
EXMSS suggests agreeing to change occurring with alignment to fee setting 2012. Interim services should therefore be costed for the period 01 January 2012 to 01 December 2012.
The opportunity for students to have their views heard, regarding both the suite of enduring services and the structure that delivers them, goes hand-in-hand with a discussion of the tertiary funding environment and the particular situation of Massey University and its student associations.
In order to engage in discussions that consider the future form of student associations, students should be provided with a clear and objective summary of the environmental constraints (including logistical and funding limitations), the agreed principles of service delivery, and the University systems that will support membership and engagement of student associations.
Agreement on the timing, scope, detail, and style of the information to be made available to students, for the purpose of informing and then requesting feedback, is important.
Student Surveys – Services
EXMSS will undertake to survey current semester two students, 2011 semester three students, and 2012 semester one students.
In order to deliver the best services for students, student organisations will undertake to survey their members. It is expected that the University will also canvass students’ views on the possible scope and range of universal student services.
In order for students’ views to be compared across campuses and cohorts it is important to have a common understanding of the questions to which this data will be applied. The obvious question is “what services do we provide and where?”
Surveys should seek to be reliable. As the survey group may only be a sample, surveys must show reliability through similar results over successive surveys.
To answer this, survey questions would need to gather frequency of use, and students’ perceptions of value against University priorities. For example: “How often did you use this service?” and the associated question, “How much did this service contribute to your (University priority) academic success?”
In addition to canvassing opinion on existing services new services may be suggested or opinion solicited from students regarding potential new services.
Student Surveys – Voluntary Associations
Further consideration of the way in which membership services will be offered to students to deter freeloading may be necessary, depending on the manner of services offered to members of voluntary associations.
As well as enquiring into universal services, student associations may undertake to understand how membership of student associations will be viewed by students. Consideration of any subscription, and services that would be available to members may form part of student surveys.
Feedback on the preferred level of enduring involvement of the campus associations in student engagement may also be useful to canvas. For voluntary associations, having a student-led level of involvement in the decision-making and governance structures is important. Representative involvement in University processes is a factor when making decisions about the value of membership.
Ongoing Student Involvement in Universal Service Provision
EXMSS supports the formation of a Student Council that will provide an environment where students can learn soft transferable skills such as meeting procedures, and governance protocols.
The Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill is clear in its view that students should be engaged when making decisions regarding the student services delivered through levy funding.
It has been recommended that a representative Student Council is constituted in order to satisfy this ongoing requirement. The Student Council will provide a university-wide, efficient and collaborative framework that is able to act as a two-way conduit for the flow of information between the student body and University, and provide democratically elected student representatives to the University Council.
Understanding and communicating the form and role of student engagement is an essential part of the process of change. Students should be provided information about all areas of proposed change prior to being canvassed for feedback about change.
Student Engagement in 2012
EXMSS will ring-fence its 2012 interim student service operations to ensure transparency of use of funds. Therefore, without support, EXMSS representatives will be unable to attend University meetings in 2012.
Funding for student engagement is prohibited to come from the student services levy. This means that student representatives will not be funded externally to attend University meetings in 2012 unless the University provides funding. An interim student engagement agreement is required as soon as practical to allow student representatives to plan their activity for 2012. There is an expectation that student representatives will discuss the needs of students in balance with the needs of the University, and a transitional agreement will be derived from those needs.
Membership of Student Associations in 2012
In 2012 EXMSS intends to will offer free membership to Massey University distance students. Membership benefits will focus on representation and information.
In 2012 membership of students’ associations may differ from an agreed and enduring model. It will not be possible to call for members through the enrolment process and have the University collect subscriptions. Access by student associations to non-member emails, if they have not agreed to share their details with students during the enrolment process, will be unlawful. It is therefore likely that membership in 2012 will be low. Membership drives will be conducted during contact course periods and other student events.
However, 2012 can be used to install processes that allow students to become both non-financial and financial members as they enroll for 2013. Information for students and other measures to support awareness of membership opportunities are expected to be discussed as a part of the enduring University support for student associations.
The ability to include student association calls for members in University all-student emails or web-logs is seen as a vital part of providing membership opportunities for students in 2012.
Conclusion – The Next Steps
EXMSS is committed to delivering student services, both universal and to a membership group as can be agreed with the University, students and other student associations.
EXMSS, alongside the other campus student associations, is seeking understanding from the University that an association, jointly owned service organisation would be a suitable vehicle for delivery of universal services to Massey University students.
EXMSS is looking to discuss the manner in which the University can support subscription membership in order to provide a viable and credible voice for distance students both on-campus and nationally.
One immediate task is to define and agree to funding any interim services that may be provided from Jan 1st 2012. This discussion includes inter-association agreements regarding combined service provision, discussions the student associations are engaged with now.
Agreement and generation of the information to be provided to students is also an immediate concern. If students are going to provide feedback on student services, and the structure that delivers them in 2012 and 2013, then publication of agreed information should accompany any survey.
Concurrently, discussions around the manner in which student engagement will occur must move to an interim agreement prior to when student representatives, elected for 2012, leave at the end of the 2011 academic year.
The obligations of all stakeholders to consider the Treaty is taken as understood. No discussion of Te Tiriti O Waitangi implications has been included in this document.
 The Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill and the Education (Compulsory Student Services Fees) Notice 2011.
 2010 EXMSS survey of Massey distance students
 Student presentation to Council – March 2011