2020 UMSU Budget23 April 2020
Every year the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) passes its annual budget via Students’ Council. Why should you care?
Well, the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) is where the majority of UMSU’s funding comes from. The SSAF is what you pay to the University each semester, and it covers things like events and programs, building maintenance, and student activities. A good chunk of the money the University receives from SSAF goes to the student union, who decide how to budget that money each year.
In 2019, UMSU was allocated $7,048,679 by councillors who — for the first time — are to be paid a “sitting fee” in 2020.
Other significant changes to UMSU’s budget in 2020 include the Activities and Indigenous Departments receiving huge budget increases. For Activities, this is reportedly to cater for bigger events and bands, while the Indigenous Department is hoping to expand their programming to include a Blak Musical. The Media Department also saw a notable budget decrease this year due to an editorial decision to reduce the number of Farrago magazines printed.
UMSU President Hannah Buchan said that she worked particularly closely with student representatives this year to ensure an efficient use of money and “comprehensive plan for the year.”
In addition to internal departmental budgets, UMSU also funds larger, national organisations. This year, Students’ Council passed $90,000 in “affiliation fees,” the highest amount of affiliation in UMSU history. Last year UMSU gave the Australian Student Environment Network (ASEN) $10,000, and the National Union of Students (NUS) $65,000. UMSU pays the highest affiliation of any NUS-affiliated unions across the country.
The NUS is the peak Australian student union body, and aims to represent the interests of all tertiary students by running national campaigns and lobbying efforts. However, controversy and infighting regularly surrounds the NUS National Conference each year (you can read some of the reporting from the 2019 conference on the Farrago website).
Another 2020 budgetary change for UMSU is the demise of the Destination Melbourne program, which successfully ran at Unimelb for the last ten years. Destination Melbourne aimed to introduce new students from rural and regional areas to the city and help orient themselves before commencing their studies.
2020 Students’ Councillor Catriona Smith expressed disappointment with the decision. “It’s a shame that it won’t go ahead this year despite budget [sic] being allocated and Students’ Council wanting it to,” she said. Farrago understands that the choice to axe the program was made due to concerns about its high running costs.