MUSUL To Face Significant Changes and Staff Cuts

22 September 2016

News has been circulated that corporate services provider and University of Melbourne subsidiary, Melbourne University Student Union Limited (MUSUL), will be changed drastically. These changes may include cuts to staffing and eventual closure.

On 19 February, the University Council Finance Committee accepted a recommendation from the Chancellery Executive that there be an “orderly transfer of Corporate Services which support Student Associations plus Commercial Services to University Services and discussions with MUSUL to achieve closure or transfer to University Services of Commercial Services”.

From now until end of year, the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) will negotiate with the University over the provision of corporate services and implementing the subsequent outcomes.

UMSU President Tyson Holloway-Clarke is optimistic about engaging with the University of Melbourne on these matters.

“We look forward to working with the university in developing better corporate service provision in support of student services and programs,” he says.

This decision has been communicated to both UMSU and MUSUL staff.

The decision handed down by Finance Committee follows a substantial period of review. UMSU staff and office bearers have repeatedly expressed concern with the operations of MUSUL.

In its current form, MUSUL provides IT, OHS, HR and financial services to UMSU and the Graduate Student Association (GSA). It is also responsible for managing the food tenancies in Union House.

In mid-2016, a paper presented by an UMSU corporate services working group outlined that the student union could take on some corporate services, specifically finance, HR, and commercial operations pending their ongoing viability. The other option is that the University manages these services.

While MUSUL will certainly be stripped of some responsibilities, it is unclear whether it will be dissolved in its entirety. Because of its significant surplus reserve and non-profit status, MUSUL’s retained profit cannot legally be dispersed back to the University. However, the reserves have the potential to be spent on redundancy payouts and the cost of relocation. It is unconfirmed what the reserves will be used for, but there will be administrative and financial technicalities that the University will have to work through.

This is an ongoing story and more information will be published as it is received.

Editor’s note: Caleb Triscari is the student representative-elect for MUSUL Board. At the time of publication, his election not been confirmed by the UMSU Electoral Tribunal.

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