84% student support for services fee

Monday, 30 May 2005

A major study conducted by independent market research company Market Equity has found overwhelming student support for a compulsory Student Services Fee.

A major finding of the study was that 84% of University of Adelaide students supported a compulsory Student Services Fee to fund services and amenities, as opposed to a user-pays system.

The University of Adelaide jointly commissioned the study with the Adelaide University Union (AUU) in early 2004 -- before the Federal Government debate on Voluntary Student Unionism. The study featured a qualitative stage to establish an understanding of students' perceptions of services currently provided, what could be improved and what additional services were required. This was followed by a comprehensive quantitative stage to provide statistically significant validation of key findings.

"We are a student-focused university," said University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor and President Professor James McWha. "We commissioned this study to ensure that we continue to deliver the services and amenities that meet our students' needs."

In the qualitative stage of the research, the services provided by the Student Services Fee were identified as a 'safety net'. This meant that students were happy to pay a fee and know that services, such as education and welfare, are available, even if they are not specifically needed by the individual student at the time.

This was seen as preferable to having to pay for services on a user-pays basis when they do need them, or not having them at all.

The study also found that students felt a social responsibility to contribute to the provision of services that would only be used by those students least able to access them on a user-pays basis.

"It does not surprise me that our student body has such a clear understanding of its needs and its social responsibility in the provision of services and amenities to address those needs." Professor McWha said.

"What is clear from this research is that if the Federal Government proposes reform legislation that allows universities to collect a Student Services and Amenities Fee, it will be acting in line with the wishes of the vast majority of our students."

AUU president Ms Jennifer Turner said she was delighted with the result.

"It is important to know that the services we are providing are being well received by the students," Ms Turner said.

"Although some services could be seen as less relevant than others, students still believed it was important that the value in a broad range of support services is recognised.

"Students said these services should be retained, particularly where they have the potential to offer significant value to their quality of life."

Earlier this year, the University re-affirmed the role and importance of student organisations to the overall educational experience at the University.

Professor McWha said the University and the AUU have a strong working relationship in providing services to students.

"The University will continue to work with the AUU to support the student body," Professor McWha said.


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