As expected, the government is trying again to restore compulsory amenities fees. I will do a detailed analysis of the bill tomorrow, but on an initial examination it is the same as the 2009 version that was rejected by the Senate.
I support unis being able to provide whatever services they like at whatever fee they determine. Let the market decide. But this amenities fee legislation should be rejected. These are my reasons:
1) It will force universities to provide non-academic services and student representation specified by the government. Universities should be able to make their own decisions about the right mix of services. We are yet to see draft guidelines which set out which services will be on the list, but the 2009 version had absurdly complex distinctions between what had to be funded from university money and what could be funded from student money. One factor that has changed since then is that the government’s guidelines could be disallowed by the House of Representatives.
2) The new obligations on the universities are unfunded – unless per student grants are increased they will have to come out of money formerly allocated to teaching. Read the rest of this entry »