Swinburne University of Technology collects student amenities fees from domestic higher education students.
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.
The university collects student amenities fees from domestic higher education students. In 2017, approximately $5.731 million* went towards these services and the same amount has been allocated for 2018.
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:
- The draft SSAF survey was sent to the Swinburne Student Union (SSU), the Swinburne Student Representative Council (SRC), Swinburne Student Life and various internal stakeholder in August 2017 to seek feedback before the survey was released.
- Requested changes received from the relevant groups were included in the final version.
- The survey was released via Student Communications on the 4th of September and closed on the 25th September.
- Copies of the survey results (SSAF Survey results 2018) were sent to the SSU, the SRC, Swinburne Student Life and various internal stakeholders on the 26th of October
- Response received from the SSU on the 27th of November
- Responses received from the SRC on the 26th October and the 17th of November
- Various meetings between members of the SSU and Swinburne Student Life were held separately with the VP (Students) during 2017
The response rate to the survey significantly increased compared to 2016, with 603 respondents compared to 231, with the most common category of respondents being undergraduate online/OUA/SOL students.
Respondents were asked to rate 30 services in terms of their awareness, usage and satisfaction levels. Of these services, on average 27% of respondents were not aware of each of the services and on average 61% had not used each of the services.
Of those services that were used, the following lists the top five for which respondents were most satisfied:
In the past year, please rate your satisfaction with the following services and amenities:
- Library IT Rovers: 66%
- Orientation: 65%
- Strategies for Success: 61%
- Language & Academic Skills Centre: 60%
- Student Finance: 55%
Noting that the percentage shown reflects the number of ‘satisfied’ and ‘very satisfied’ responses divided by the total number of responses for any of ‘very unsatisfied’, ‘unsatisfied’, ‘neutral’, ‘satisfied’ and ‘very satisfied’.
Respondents were also asked to rate the level of importance each of these services were to Swinburne students, and the following lists the top five services that respondents viewed as the most important to Swinburne students:
How important do you think the following services are to Swinburne students?
- Careers and Employability: 86%
- Counselling: 85%
- Disability Support and Equity Services: 84%
- Health Services (wellbeing@swin): 79%
- Student Finance: 77%
Noting that the percentage shown reflects the number of ‘important and ‘very important’ responses divided by the total number of responses for any of ‘very unimportant, ‘unimportant, ‘neutral’, ‘important and ‘very important’.
There are also extensive comments in the free texts fields which also provide valuable insight into what is important to our student community.
We committed to reviewing the SSAF charge to online students in 2017.
From the survey question regarding the satisfaction of services, Online students in general were slightly less aware of the listed services however a similar proportion to On-campus students had used the services.
The response to the question of the importance of the various services to Online students was similar to all respondents, with ‘Orientation’ replacing ‘Health Services (wellbeing@swin)’ in an otherwise unchanged list of the top five services that were deemed to be of most importance to Swinburne students.
In the comments section, a number of students were critical of the perceived lack of services available for Online students. In particular, access to careers counsellors, gym memberships and communities of practice we listed.
A review was also conducted independent of the survey of those services where differentiating between Online and On-campus students usage was possible, for example Student Engagement Services (SALNA, MyLead, Emerging Leaders etc.); Accessibility Service and Health Services, and the main users of these services remains On-campus students.
So, while when prompted, the services funded by SSAF are seen as important by our Online students, however in general fewer Online students were aware of them.
As such, while it has been determined that the SSAF fee charged to Online students will remain consistent with On-campus students for 2018, further work will occur to both broadcast existing services that are accessible to Online students, as well as look to move all SSAF services to an online environment wherever possible.