Budget Breakdown 20194 March 2019
The University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) passed its budget for 2019 on 7 December 2018, with several funding increases to autonomous departments as well as considerations for the election year ahead.
UMSU’s budget is partially funded by the mandatory Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) all students enrolled are required to pay. Roughly one third of SSAF funds are allocated to UMSU, with the 2019 SSAF income being $7,211,020. It is anticipated that an additional SSAF grant of roughly $240,000 over the 2019-2020 period will be approved. The rest of UMSU’s budget comes from sponsorships and other third-party servicing.
This year, discussion from the budget council focused on funding for the National Union of Students (NUS) and financial reimbursement for student volunteers.
Money allocated towards NUS affiliation has been upped significantly over the last few years, and, after lengthy discussion, was proposed to be raised from $50,000 last year to $65,000 this year. Some members of council opposed this allocation, criticising the NUS for its inefficiency and lack of transparency. Others believed the increase was necessary given that students face a federal election year in 2019 and higher education funding has continuously been cut by the federal government over past years.
The education department’s budget has also been increased to a total of $49,100 due to concerns over the election. The increase of $5,000 from last year was added with the aim of campaigning to educate students about the ins- and-outs of the upcoming federal election, as well as continuing the work of previous years of campaigning for better public transportation for students and working on the book co-op.
In addition, due to changes in UMSU’s management policy which were made in an effort to increase student control, most departments received an increase in funding allocation. The clubs and societies department remains the recipient of the most funding, receiving a total of $308,850. The department received an extra $2,000 from the previous year, and supports over 200 clubs on campus.
Autonomous departments in particular have experienced an increase in funding over the years due to an increase in SSAF allocation and an increase in planned initiatives, doubling in size from budgets of around $20,000 each back in 2016. The disabilities department in particular hopes to start new initiatives in 2019 including the inauguration of a disability space, a publication, and an expansion of collectives and department activities.
In an attempt to address the inactivity on satellite campuses, the Southbank department received a total of $54,200—almost $20,000 more than last year. Students at the Southbank campus can expect a carnival during O-Week, as well as regular lunchtime events, a drag show, and a ball. However, funding allocated to the Burnley department has decreased due to services deemed redundant and outside of UMSU’s scope. Burnley’s budget was also decreased last year, putting its current budget at $40,000.
There were a few other highlights from this year’s budget. This was the first year that UMSU has decided to affiliate with the Australian Students’ Environment Network as a whole, rather than it falling solely under the environment department’s jurisdiction. Additionally, following recommendations from the Union’s Chief Executive Officer, options are being examined currently on how best to incorporate reimbursement to student volunteers. The media department is the most affected by these recommendations, as honoraria allocated for Radio Fodder, Farrago Video, and other managers have been frozen.
On the budget as a whole, UMSU President Molly Willmott said, “The budget was finalized out of utmost respect for students and the money they pay and values of representing and delivering the best for students.”