Swinburne University of Technology collects student amenities fees from domestic higher education students.
In 2019, the total revenue from these fees is expected to be in the order of A$5,600,000 — a similar amount to that received in 2018 — primarily driven by the ‘capping’ of Commonwealth Supported Places by the Federal Government.
As per the Student Services, Amenities, Representation and Advocacy Guidelines, 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:
- Draft SSAF survey sent to SSU, Swinburne Student Representative Council (SRC), Swinburne Student Life and various internal stakeholders in May 2018 to seek feedback before the survey was released.
- Requested changes received from the relevant groups were included in the final version.
- The survey released via Student Communications on the 6th of August and closed after two week.
- Copies of the survey results were sent to the SSU, the SRC, Swinburne Student Life and various internal stakeholders on the 14th September.
- Responses received from Swinburne Student Life on the 5th October, SSU on the 12th October and the SRC on the 18th October
- Several meetings between members of the SSU, SRC and Swinburne Student Life were held separately with the VP (Students) during 2018.
For the 2018 Survey, it was agreed with Education and Quality Services that the survey would be sent to a proportion of middle year students only, to not jeopardise the response rate to the broader Student Satisfaction Survey.
The survey was run for the first two weeks of August, with the results of the survey below:
- Sent: 6,224
- Opened: 3,209
- Clicked: 204
- Open rate: 51.6%
- Click rate: 3.3%
- Click to open rate: 6.7%
- Completed responses: 125
- Response to send: 2.0%
- Response to open: 3.9%
- Response to clicked: 61%
Most respondents were either 0 days on campus (online), or 3–4 days on campus per week.
For the question, ‘How important do you think the following services are to Swinburne students’, the top five services are as follows:
- Counselling: 89%
- Careers and Employability: 88%
- Disability support and equity services: 86%
- Academic Development Advisors: 85%
- Health services (Wellbeing@Swin): 84%
*Importance is measure by the sum of ‘important’ and ‘very important’ divided by the all responses with the exception of ‘I am not aware of this service’.
- Lack of awareness of what SSAF funds.
- Frustration from online/off-campus cohort at having to pay SSAF.
- Consideration for mentorship the whole way through a student’s experience at Swinburne, not just first year or first semester.
- Consideration for postgraduate/adult learners within SSAF activities.
- Lack of awareness of supports like advocacy, chaplaincy and student representation.
Things to consider:
- Relaunch the ‘Powered by your SSAF fee’ messaging.
- Further promotion of SSAF-related items, both at onboarding and throughout the year.
- Engagement of the postgraduate cohort via activities and events.
Enhancement (careers, mentorship)
- Student study support Mentors, I see is necessary for all year levels while studying. If there is, I was not aware of this.
- Support for entrepreneurs as part of career and employability.
- More services that online students can access. Swinburne has a large online presence and we pay student fees but lack access to a lot of the services. Student services are not communicated for online students so there is an issue with awareness (or lack of) of services available in the first instance.
- Swinburne offers mentoring for students in first year. I would have found mentoring extremely helpful, not only in my first year; second and third as well. I say this because, the Units in Psychology are no easier, even in second and third years. I do not have parents (deceased) to help and support me with my studies. Other family and friends are not interested in helping me, they say Psychology is too hard, and it is beyond their understanding. I am trying to complete my Bachelor of Social Science degree, majoring in: Psychology and Sociology. At this point, I have three Units to complete. I would LOVE a mentor who has studied psychology and sociology, to be able to discuss my assignments with, and to clarify my understanding of related topics. Lack of support is my biggest barrier in completing my degree.
Social Activities and on-campus
- Would love to see more monitor stations and more couches around the uni, as well as semester-round access to the deck chairs and beanbags in Wakefield gardens rather than just during O-Week.
- Thank you for all you do.
SSAF fee (non-online feedback)
- I think it’s unfair that students on placement who don't even come on campus have to pay the full amount for these services. I hardly use any of these services even when I am on campus and it’s frustrating that I have to pay for them. Should be optional.
- Yes, I find that everything is geared towards full time students, not adult learners. We pay a full amenity fee even though we hardly use the services. The faculty has put subjects during the day. How on earth does a full-time working adult get permission to leave work to study and return to work? The fact that work allows you time off to study is a privilege not a right as per them!
- An advocate specifically for online students
- Administrative Tribunal to contest Faculty policy changes
Online cohort fee feedback
- If the fee is going to remain, I would like to see services offered to online students so we can make use of the services and the ones that we can use now should be made clear.
- More information specifically for online students, on what services they can access off-campus. This would be useful not just at time of enrolment, but through regular reminders and updates.
- More Orientation for post graduate students.
- I think in every case the services are either important or very important, but as a distance learner I have zero access to the majority of them. If these are transferable between universities, this should provide greater support to those learning by correspondence and have disadvantage due to locality. This does not take into consideration that I am also required to pay fees for the services, but a structured way to allow benefit for our fee's would also be beneficial.