NUS-capades: VCESS, Banks and the 2017 UMSU Budget

7 December 2016

A motion to increase the University of Melbourne’s Student Union’s (UMSU’s) funding to the National Union of Students (NUS) has failed during today’s glacially paced, three-hour-long Students’ Council meeting. 

The NUS is the peak representative body for students in Australia. It is responsible for campaigning for affordable quality higher education at the national level.

The motion, forwarded by Left Focus’ Anneke D’emanuele, aimed to take $10,000 from UMSU’s Whole of Union Fund and $30,000 from the Student Unionism Campaign Support budget line to reinforce UMSU’s affiliation to the NUS.

This year, UMSU delegated $75,000 to the NUS, whereas the 2017 budget only proposed a total of $30,000 to be specifically granted to the NUS.

D’emanuele said that whilst UMSU’s financial commitment to the NUS had increased between 2015 and 2016, the amount proposed in the 2017 budget would result in a lack of much-needed funding for the NUS that other, less wealthy universities are unable to provide.

“This year, the NUS ran the biggest education campaign against deregulation”, she said, also citing their campaigns against homophobia and racism.

With the rise of the alt-right movement, councillors in support of the peak body came to its defence.

“Now is not the time for the NUS to be on the back foot,” said follow Councillor, Lia Vassiliadis. “We can reach out to so many more people.”

President Yan Zhuang described the NUS as “largely ineffective”.

“People have been trying to make it better for a very long time but I don’t think it’s viable for us to continue supporting it”, she said.

Clubs and Societies Officer, Gulsara Kaplun said that she “feel[s] alienated by the organisation”.

“There’s a toxic and ineffective culture around the NUS…it’s important to consider who we’re giving money to”.

The amendment failed, with only four councillors in favour of the change.

An increase in funding of $20,000 to the VCE Summer School Program (VCESS), sourced from the 2016 Whole of Union Budget Line, was also successfully passed. The change was proposed by Zhuang.

Environment Officers, Kate Denver-Stevenson and Lizzie Nicholson introduced a motion to ensure that UMSU’s Orientation Program is not funded by any banks that invest in fossil fuels.

Eventually, the budget was passed.

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