The Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) pays for important student services and amenities such as health and welfare services, financial advice, accommodation assistance, advocacy, sport, cultural and recreational activities.
In 2017, approximately $5.5 million was allocated towards these services.
Under the “Student Services, Amenities, Representation and Advocacy Guidelines” which are a condition of the grant from 2013, universities are required to have a formal process of consultation with democratically elected student representatives and representatives from major student organisations regarding the specific uses of the fee.
This consultation must include:
- Publishing identified priorities for proposed fee expenditure and allowing opportunities to comment on those priorities by students and student associations and organisations; and
- Meeting with democratically elected student representatives and representatives from major student organisations at the university to consider priorities for use of the fee.
The steps in the consultation process consistent with the Representative Guidelines were as follows:
- Release of a survey via Student Communications to ascertain which services students had used; which services they felt were important to them and the ability to provide free text comments answering ‘which one additional service would you like to see offered’ and ‘do you have any other comments or suggestions you would like to make about SSAF?’ This ran from the 28th of September 2016 to the 7th of October 2016
- Letters were sent to the Swinburne Student Union (SSU) and the Swinburne Representative Council (SRC) on the 18th of October, along with the results of the survey (Download 2017 survey results in PDF format [106KB]), requesting a written submission with respect to the allocation of the 2017 SSAF.
- Response received from the SSU on the 28th of October
- Response received from the SRC on the 2nd of November
- Meeting between members of the SRC and the VP (Students) was held on the 3rd of November
- Meeting between members of the SSU and the VP (Students) was held on the 15th of November
- Additional response received from the SRC on the 15th of November
- Additional response received from the SSU on the 17th November
- Numerous discussions held during 2016 with leader of SSAF funded areas within Swinburne and SSAA.
Recommended priorities for expenditure
The outcomes of the consultation process were consistent with previous years. The areas that students noted as 'most important' were:
- clubs and societies
- student events
- welfare and equity services.
Further to this, the Swinburne Student Union (SSU) requested additional funding to grow the services they currently provide, with their priority areas being an increase in staff numbers to allow for comprehensive management of the Croydon Café and the Hammer and Swine bar (which are both services for all students and provide an additional revenue streams for the SSU), and, additional funding to produce a hard copy student diary.
The Student Representative Council (SRC) requested that Swinburne considers reducing the SSAF charge to online students. Following this meeting, the survey data was further reviewed and Swinburne Online (SOL) student responses were separated from the main survey. While the responses from SOL students were low (22 in total), careers, counselling, disability support and none were the most selected service that are ‘most important’. The free text responses were also critical of the fees charge for SSAF as some respondants felt they had limited ability to access the services.
The SRC also request that more was done to increase the information about what SSAF is and the services funded by it.
The SRC also provided details of their ‘Have a Say Day’, and of their 343 responses, social activities, education support and general support services were noted as services students wanted to see more of.
Allocations for 2017
The allocations for 2017 take into account the results of the survey conducted in September/October 2016. Allocations also take into account the submissions from, and meetings with, the SSU and the SRC, along with conversations with key staff who lead the functional areas for which SSAF allocations have been received in the past.
Furthermore, SSAF charges to online students are to remain unchanged for 2017, however a thorough review will be conducted in 2017 to determine a position on the SSAF charge to online students from 2018.