Sunday, 13 January 2008

Death to the NUS

STUDENT union membership has plummeted by up to 95 per cent since the Howard government made it voluntary.

Oh hooray.

"Mr McFarland said that at Wollongong University, the student newspaper was now run entirely by volunteers, the second-hand book shop had closed and a child-care subsidy provided had been removed."

I never could figure out why you had to pay people to produce a student rag that was published once a month, why it's not possible to run a second hand book shop at a profit when there is an ongoing demand for pre-loved books, and why students should subsidise child care when there are already government subsidies in place.

At the University of Newcastle, student-association run entities had cut staff numbers by 65 per cent, the events budget had been slashed, there was no more free Centrelink and tax advice and a computer lab has been closed.

Again, I can't see why a student association needs to pay for staff. These positions should be staffed by people putting in their own time - like charity work. A computer lab might have been necessary when I was at Uni back in the late 1980's, but everyone has a laptop these days, so why is a lab required? It's a hangover from the days of the PC XT, and should have died a decade ago.

As for tax advice, pay a flipping tax advisor for Pete's sake! It doesn't cost that much to go to H&R Block for some basic advice. And if you can't figure out how to get Centrelink payments, then I really don't think you have the smarts to be at Uni!

At the University of Western Sydney, Mr McFarland said funding for clubs and societies had been reduced by at least 50 per cent, a shuttle bus service had been closed and most of the staff positions were gone.

Funding for clubs and societies was always a beer drinking subsidy when I was at Uni. The poor old mature age and overseas students got stung by a compulsory Union fee, and all that money was used to subsidise drinking clubs for the full time students like myself. It was nice while it lasted, but I don't see club subsidies as being a good argument for grabbing money from every student via a compulsory levy. I'm not sure what they did with the shuttle bus, but I'm not sure why a bus is required when there has never been any barriers to students getting off their arses and onto a bike.

I am sad that student unions are not 100% dead. 95% just isn't good enough. Someone needs to squash these remaining pockets of stupidity like a bug.

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