A New Year, A Bigger Tax

by on 23 January, 2015

10547978_508484902631689_4330841723284768163_o Clark Cooley argues for abolishing the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF):

As university students enter the 2015 academic year this February, new and continuing students alike are set to be taxed. This tax is not for their further education, rather for non-educational services, the spending of which is dictated largely by unrepresentative student unions.

The Student Services and Amenities Fee, or SSAF is a yearly expanding tax imposed not withstanding of a student’s income, their wish to use the services the ‘fee’ funds, or even their ability to obtain value for money.  In 2014, the average amount paid by students in SSAF equaled $280. With the increasing aspect of SSAF, new students for 2015 will pay an average amount $1300 over the lifetime of a typical 4 year degree. It’s no wonder 70% of students wish to have a university wide vote on the abolishment of the SSAF all together. (The Australian 2014)

Objections to the SSAF are not just financially motivated however, accompanying the payment of this fee is the legal requirement of compulsory membership in student unions. This requisite violates the basic rights of students to the freedom of association, the same freedom that Australian’s have advantage of in the workplace, where compulsory unionism has long been outlawed. Our university campuses however, continue to require students to join organisations that they in large have opposition too.

The representatives of these unions are normally elected on low voter turn outs, usually less than 5 per cent of the student body. By no means do the so-called representatives of the students have a mandate to speak on their behalf, yet organisations like the NUS, largely funded by SSAF, continue to bolster false and ludicrous claims acting on behalf of university students. Only the compulsory membership structure of SSAF allows unions to maintain this fabrication of association. This was predominately seen in the introduction of voluntary student unionism where only 60 of the 30,000 students at the University of Tasmania joined it’s student union once VSU came into effect in 2006.

Abolishing the SSAF is a key way to ensure students only pay for their necessary educational services.This ensures that all students are not forced to fund unrepresentative, and often extremist and divisive organisations. It is vital that students be given back the power of whether they sign up and pay their money towards student unions. Those with the time and inclination to become involved in campus activities may be happy to pay the fee, but for students with other demands on their time, such as work, family responsibilities or simply a very strong commitment to their studies, the current regulations simply don’t work in their favour.

We all know that Australia’s system of higher education must be improved.  We need a system that is responsive to the needs of students and the global employment market, equitable to students and taxpayers alike, and is world leading in every aspect. With Asia expanding it’s university sector, it is vital that we are not left behind by rocketing competitiveness. Australia cannot afford to deny students enrolment at university or refused to release their results if they object to join a union and pay the SSAF.

Clark Cooley is a third year Business (Accounting) and Arts (Public Policy, International Relations) student at the University of Tasmania. He is President of the University of Tasmania Student Liberals.


Nadin, M 2014, ‘Make students vote on union service fees: Nationals senator Matt Canavan’, The Australian, 27 August, viewed 20 January 2015, <http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/make-students-vote-on-union-service-fees-nationals-senator-matt-canavan/story-e6frgcjx-1227037730806>

2 thoughts on “A New Year, A Bigger Tax

  1. This is a interesting article. Very interesting indeed.

    However…. first. You seem to be completely ignoring all the services that SSAF also is put into i.e. The Librarys and new services for students.

    This is all before talking about all the services that the union uses this money for, again i.e. welfare packages for students, rent assistants for low income students, autonomous areas for students. The list continues to grow. These are all things that help students, especially disadvantaged students, or would you prefer disadvantaged students not receive the help they require?

    Seeing as you are a TUU campus president I took the liberty of looking up the minutes from your meetings (reference down below). call me crazy but it got me interested as to where my SRC where putting all this “stolen” money. I noticed something interesting.

    you have so far funded

    – One Framed Photo of the SRC

    – Certificates for the SRC

    – Name Badges for the SRC

    – Name Plates for the SRC

    – Free Color printing for SRC

    – your name to be placed on a honor board

    – money to reimburse you for dinner you bought the SRC

    My question now becomes how can you feel justified to write about SSAF being a crime yet seem to spend so much on yourselves? If you ask me that seems to be a tad corrupt. Is profiting from crime not illegal in itself?

    Now on to my second point. SSAF stands for Student Services and Amenities Fee It is by no means a Union Tax. compulsory Student Unionism was abolished by the liberal party when the brought in VSU. How can you say it is a union tax when the majority goes to other sauces. is that not a little misleading?

    and third. Why provide a reference you need a subscription to access?

    I doubt I shall Receive any reply to this comment so i shall be emailing the TUU State President as this is the second time you have embarrassed the northern campus with you misguidance and out right lies.

    reference (North SRC Minutes) http://tuu.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/SRC-Minutes-91214.pdf

  2. A bit rich coming from someone who has spent students money on self-glorification initiatives like a honour board

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