Universities Australia wishes to thank the Committee for the invitation to make a submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Student Services and Amenities, and Other Measures) Bill 2009. Our comments are limited to Schedule 1: Student Services and Amenities, of this Bill.
The Bill allows that the funding collected as Student Services and Amenities Fees will be used by universities for a range of non-academic purposes, as listed in the Fee Guidelines. Universities Australia broadly welcomes the Government's proposed Amendment, which will greatly assist in reinvigorating campus life across Australia.
While the Fee Guidelines list numerous services, Universities Australia identifies a wide range of health services, and welfare services (such as non-academic counselling, child care facilities, and the maintenance of independent legal and advocacy support) as critical to support the learning outcomes of all students. We look forward to further consultation on the Guidelines that will put the legislation into practice.
Universities appreciate the flexibility to choose who is best placed to provide the services, whether that be the institution itself, student organisations, or third party providers.
Universities Australia notes concerns that some students may experience difficulty in paying the proposed fee. This notion is not supported however by the findings of our Australian University Student Finances Survey, particularly given that students can elect to defer payment of the proposed fee through a HELP loan.
Evidence in support of our position is provided in the attachment to this letter. Universities Australia would be most willing to discuss any of these matters in detail with the Committee.
To read the full submission, download the PDF below.