The one certain thing about NZUSA: Dissatisfaction.

In the Otago Daily Times today there is an article about both Otago Polytech and Otago University Students’ Associations withdrawing from the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA).

The quoted reasons for withdrawing are:

OPSA president Meegan Cloughley proposed that OPSA withdraw, saying she did not think OPSA was not getting value for its annual subscription of $31,000.

She believes the NZUSA was not spending income wisely – overspending on administration costs and underspending on student activities and campaigns.

NZUSA had also been slow to respond to concerns or provide up-to-date information on expenditure and financial controls, she said.

The Otago University Students Association (OUSA) has also indicated it may withdraw from the NZUSA because of concerns over expenditure, financial accountability and value for money.

OUSA’s annual subscription is more than $100,000 – more than one quarter of NZUSA’ total annual income.

OUSA’s draft budget for next year does not include an allocation for NZUSA fees.

Two years ago when I was president of the Albany Students’ Association (ASA) I recommended that ASA withdraw for very similar reasons:

After serious concerns over the direction, focus and performance were raised of the national students’ association – NZUSA at the recent conference in Dunedin, the ASA Executive Committee is seeking feedback from students at Albany as to whether or not to withdraw from the organisation in protest.

“We are seeking direct feedback from our members, many of whom probably don’t realise that they pay a levy indirectly through the ASA budget to support an organisation in the opinion of the Executive is failing to focus on its core business of representing all students and is instead involved in internal politics between associations and spending too much time and money on small subgroups who pander up to the organisation,” says ASA President, Brad Heap.

“NZUSA have a vital part to play in NZ’s political realm and were paramount in achieving interest free student loans, they also provide training to association executives. However the question needs to be asked is can the $40k a year we put into this organisation be better spent? We could run our own training a lot cheaper and use the residual funds to increase funding to groups on campus. We believe in the ideals of NZUSA but if the organisation is not focussing on its core business should we continue to be involved?”

Satellite Issue 15, 2008

At the same time University of Canterbury Students’ Association (UCSA) withdrew after less than year’s membership of the national body.

Is the national body in crises? Or has year after year of bad practices caused systematic problems in the organisation?

Two years ago were arguing for changes and it appears that nothing has changed. NZUSA has a vital role to play in advocating for students in New Zealand. But they need to get back to their core business of doing so.

2 Replies to “The one certain thing about NZUSA: Dissatisfaction.”

  1. NZUSA is no doubt working hard on core business Brad. I know the current co-presidents and staff are throwing everything they can into the anti-vsm campaign.

    My understanding is that financial processes have improved, and there is greater federation executive involvement in expenditure.

    I wouldn’t say that they are in crisis, but I would say that the tensions playing out here are very complex and in fact very similar to what happened last time a bill like this came up.

    NZUSA is not all that far from it’s 100th birthday – it’s an institution. Student leaders all too often play the threat to withdrawl card rather than a long term interest in fixing the problems of today so the national body can continue work in the future.

    Jordan King

    1. Jordan,

      I agree that too often student leaders play the withdrawal card, but there
      needs to be better process involved. I will note I have been out of the loop
      for the last two years, but before that I had three years involvement and
      the same stuff went on year after year. It is not the people, it is the
      process.

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