Let’s take a look at what a well-funded student union can do!

Did you know that the QUT Student Guild received $2.272 million dollars of SSAF in 2023, while students paid almost $9 million to the University? Over the last three years, the union has received an average of $1.8 million dollars in SSAF, or around 20% of the total amount paid by students.  

Now, those figures might seem like big numbers, but how does QUT compare to other universities around the country? And what does it really mean to have student money in student hands? 

For every student who paid SSAF to the university, the Guild received around $40. This money is then invested right back into services for students, like our Advocacy department and the Food Bank, building community on campus by putting on events like Battle of the Bands, and advocating for student rights through our Student Representative Council. But what could we achieve with more funding?  

The University of Queensland Union received over $4 million of SSAF in 2022, with other student managed organisations on campus, like the Association of Post Graduate students, receiving an additional $2.3 million. This works out to be around $74 per student going right back into the union. 

UQU provides comprehensive student exam support, which includes a dedicated “Freak-out” phone line and food trucks during SWOTVAC time, VISA help for international students, and they run a Food Co-op, which is open five days a week and offers students discounted groceries and household goods.  

The Australian National University is one of the best universities in the country and pays one of the highest rates of SSAF to their student union. The ANU Students’ Association and student media departments received $2.5 million of SSAF in 2022, which is almost $150 per student.  

With this funding, the union is able to run numerous advocacy departments, like the Indigenous and BIPOC departments, provide support to students in specific groups, like matured aged or international, and run weekly writing workshops for Higher Degree Research students. The university also have two distinct student media publications; Woroni, which runs a magazine, radio station and tv program, and The Observer, which reports exclusively on campus news. 

The University of Sydney student union and SRC received around $9 million of SSAF in 2022, which works out to be just under $120 per student. Other student organisations on campus, like the Postgrad Representation Association, received additional funds, which brings the SSAF paid to groups run by students to 62% of the total the university received.  

USU funds over 200 clubs, runs their own gallery space on campus which puts on multiple arts programs throughout the year, and provides students access to training programs like first aid or RSA courses. The union also puts on huge festivals each year, like the Someday Soon Music Festival, and offers extensive volunteering opportunities that allow students to give back to their community and disadvantaged people in developing countries. 

As you can see from these examples, a well-funded student union can not only offer a high level of services and advocacy for students, but they can also create initiatives that bring more money back into the union. The UQU Food Co-op not only gives students’ the opportunity to shop for discounted goods with dignity, but it also makes money which can then be reinvested back into students.  

A dedicated arts space on campus that students could access for free, like the Verge Gallery at USU, would allow students in the creative faculties a free space for events and exhibitions, which would allow more students to experience their work and would foster a stronger creative culture on campus.  

Ultimately, our university is a business, and their primary goal is to make money. Whereas the Guild is a non-profit and their goal is to serve and represent students. A student union has the ability to provide services and programs the university has no incentive to offer, like supporting students through academic advocacy, or campaigning to policy makers to strengthen student rights. 

When it comes down to it, student money should be in student hands. Student unions are able to use these funds to push back against the university to improve conditions for students, while also offering much needed services and fighting for student rights.  

If you believe that the QUT Student Guild deserves more SSAF, then sign our petition and help us put more of your money to good use.

Celeste Muller
Celeste Muller

Celeste (she/her) is a Meanjin/Brisbane based writer and Editor at Glass Media. She has a Bachelor's degree in Design (Interior Design) and is currently studying Journalism and Economics at QUT.

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