21 March 2016

MUSUL Services, the organisation set up just over a decade ago to prevent student union mismanagement, is now facing embattlement on multiple fronts, including a financial scandal. It comes amidst a leadership change and years of significant, but until now relatively subdued, criticism from student unionists.

The University-owned subsidiary provides a range of corporate services to student organisations, manages Union House tenancies and maintenance, while also running several catering and retail businesses. It plays a key behind-the-scenes role for the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU), managing everything from finance to information technology.

Over $700,000 of students’ money every year goes to MUSUL through the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF). SSAF negotiations are set to occur this year and that amount may see adjustment.

In the latest scandal for the organisation, Students’ Councillors at UMSU were told on 1 March of a financial mismanagement situation in MUSUL.

In a subsequent statement, MUSUL confirmed that “accounting irregularities” had been found at the organisation, with money lost and a staff member subsequently ceasing to work for the organisation.

At the same meeting, Students’ Council passed a motion expressing a major lack of confidence in MUSUL in its current approach. They called for MUSUL to urgently address concerns around management or face termination of the relationship with UMSU.

The organisation is also facing a leadership change; Trevor White, the organisation’s long-contentious CEO, has announced his retirement, slated for 1 July. White has been criticised by many staff and officials in both UMSU and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU).

While these situations are not believed to all be directly related, they nonetheless raise some serious questions over the future of the organisation.

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