Budget Breakdown14 February 2018
The University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) passed its 2018 budget on 18 December 2017, bringing with it a raft of funding increases to the student representative departments. Funded by the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF), an annual fee of nearly $300, UMSU is an institution intended to provide a range of services to students, ranging from free food to community spaces to assistance with legal and academic issues.
With almost a third of your SSAF going towards funding the union, it only makes sense to get involved and utilise those services. Here at Farrago, we’ve delved deep into the nitty-gritty of the budget to give you an idea of what to expect out of the union and prepare for the coming year.
UMSU has drafted the budget with four key values in mind: remaining student-led and focused; being inclusive and connected; being effective and engaged; and being accountable, transparent and responsive to students’ needs.
Most departments have received an increase in their funding allocation, which is expected to allow departments to explore new initiatives to improve the on-campus life of students.
As in previous years, the clubs and societies department received the most from the 2018 budget, with a total of $306,850 allocated—an increase of $6,350 from the previous year. This marks a break from tradition—in the past three years the department’s allocation was increased by only $5000 per year. The funding allocation is stated to be motivated by the union’s desire to be more inclusive and connected, as well as to support recently initiated welfare programs and training to club leaders.
UMSU International received the second biggest portion of the budget (22.8 per cent), again as in previous years. Tasked with helping to support the large number of international students enrolled on campus, their $269,410 will be utilised to cover a variety of services and functions including the introduction of International Student Ambassador Bonding Nights and the continuation of other events such as the Professional Mingle and orientation events. Despite an increase in their allocation of nearly $9000, there have been no significant changes to their budget structure.
The media department will be able to continue to deliver quality content to the student body, having been granted the third largest portion of the budget (12.1 per cent). This will fund the operation of Farrago magazine, Radio Fodder, Farrago Video, the Above Water creative writing anthology, and other special projects and events.
One of the biggest increases went to the activities department, receiving $75,000—$15,000 more than last year in SSAF funding—with a total projected revenue of $190,910 from ticket sales. Students can expect a bigger and better social scene this year, with usual events like the orientation week sleepover and Oktoberfest being complemented by an all-new St Paddy’s Day party.
The budget will face close scrutiny this year after seeing 48 per cent of last year’s allocated SSAF funding going unspent. Consequently, this year, students’ council will conduct a formal review of the budget to be undertaken by UMSU President Desiree Cai, General Secretary Daniel Beratis and CEO Justin Baré at the end of June and presented to students’ council in July.
While no department succeeded in spending all of its budget, the most significant shortfalls occurred in some of the smaller departments—including the newly created people of colour department, which only spent 24 per cent of its $30,500 budget. Surprisingly, the activities and clubs and societies departments failed to spend nearly half their budgets for the year, marking a significant departure from the norm for the activities department—possibly linked to declining student participation in campus parties and activities.
On whether the budget satisfied its aims, UMSU President Desiree Cai said, “I think it’s a bit hard to break down the budget to say whether it is representative of the student body, but we try to be representative of as many students from a range of backgrounds as possible at UMSU.”
*This departmental budget may be amended by students’ council