National’s changes leave student bodies in chaos

The chaos created by National’s scrapping of compulsory student association membership may force the 86-year old Union of Students Association to fold, Labour’s Tertiary Education spokesperson David Cunliffe says.

“National’s 2011 Voluntary Student Membership Act has left student associations with no minimum funding.

“While some are well set up, many are underfunded and hamstrung by their universities. This law change means these vital independent student bodies depend on the decisions of institutions for their funding.

“Student associations are such a mess that the Union of Student Associations has just 10 members left after major institutions such as Canterbury and Waikato universities pulled out several years ago and now Victoria and Otago are leaving.

“Despite representing 400,000 tertiary students, the union established in 1929 may have to fold.

“Tertiary education has never been more important to driving our dynamic economy and building a strong and vibrant New Zealand. But student life has never been less affordable and too many young New Zealanders are being locked out.

“Having a strong voice for students is critical for them and for New Zealand,” David Cunliffe says.