SPENDING YOUR SSAF WHERE DID YOU THINK YOUR MONEY WAS GOING? WORDS BY CASEY BRIGGS
t’s almost impossible to be a university student in this country and not have heard of the Student Services and Amenities Fee, popularly known as the SSAF. For a full-time University of Adelaide student, SSAF is the extra $281 you are charged every year on top of your regular course fees. O’Week is one of the most recent products of your SSAF money. It’s likely that the first time you walked on campus this year was for O’Week - a few days of collecting ID cards, setting up email, joining clubs, watching bands, and maybe even attending introductory lectures (yeah right). If you are a returning student, you may have noticed some changes to the week. There was nothing on the Goodman Lawns, the maths lawns next to The Braggs was open and full of clubs and sports, and the university was doing a whole lot more of its own stuff too. This is a story about what these new events tell us about the ways that your Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) is being spent by the university, and how the university and the Adelaide University Union (AUU) think
it should be spent (spoiler alert: they don’t agree).
The SSAF exists because of legislation passed by the former federal government in 2011. It’s a compulsory fee that universities can charge students to help fund student services and amenities. Some of the things that can be funded with the SSAF are: • promoting health and welfare • employment help • production of student media • advocating student interests to the university • providing food and drink • supporting clubs • giving students information to help them in orientation There are other allowable uses for the money, and these are described in the SSAF legislation. In 2014 the fee for full time students is $281. Almost all undergraduate students, as well as some postgraduates, are required to pay the fee either upfront or by deferring it like a HELP debt. The total pool of money expected to be collected this year is $5.3 million.
Every year the SSAF is allocated by the university following consultation with student representatives from the AUU and Adelaide University Sport (AUS).
Orientation was one of the projects allocated funding for 2014. The AUU successfully requested $15,000 to run an expanded version of its program, and the university allocated $75,000 for its own program (including funding for midyear orientation). Ian Thomson is the Manager of Hub Central and Ask Adelaide, and was responsible for the university’s O’Week. He says one of his objectives this year was to encourage domestic students to mix with international students during orientation. ‘One of the things international students comment about is that they don’t get to mix early enough with Australian locals and they don’t know where they can get support,’ Thomson says. Two of the new events that Thomson held this year were a Community Day on 21st February featuring community organisations