Fellow-student funded overseas holidays: the latest anti-VSU argument

As we saw in the case of Joy Kyriacou a couple of weeks ago, there are people whose sense of entitlement to the earnings of others is completely shameless. Ms Kyriacou, as readers may recall, thinks that her fellow Australians shoud pay higher taxes so that she does not have to postpone her first overseas holiday while repaying her HECS debt.

This morning The Age brings us La Trobe University sports manager John Dumaresq, who in a criticism of voluntary student unionism that looks more like a defence to me, explains why it is harder than before VSU to get members of the women’s football team to go to interstate matches:

“Students think, well, I can spend a week on the Gold Coast or I can work and at the end of the year with $700 [the cost of the Gold Coast footy trip] I can go to Thailand or Vietnam for an overseas trip.

They have to weigh it up, but in the past they might have done both because it was subsidised,” Mr Dumaresq said.

So on Mr Dumaresq’s view, other students – who if we believe NUS are poverty-stricken – should pay higher charges so that women footballers can go to the Gold Coast and on an Asian holiday.

I do not support price control, and therefore I cannot support that aspect of the VSU legislation. But as I have always conceded, the previous system was riddled with inequities and inefficiencies. The forced unbundling was useful shock therapy in clearing these away.

When the system is deregulated, universities will presumably think carefully before including the cost of too many student junkets in their price structure.

7 thoughts on “Fellow-student funded overseas holidays: the latest anti-VSU argument

  1. That’s very unAustralian of you Andrew. Why shouldn’t students pay more so that sportpeople can have a holiday? 🙂

    Nobody wanted to pick up on the comment I left at Catallaxy this morning.

    Apparently VSU is undermining University sporting activity. Boo Hoo. I’m not quite sure what the problem is, students who want to play sport can still always join non-university clubs, alternativily those students who now have more time on their hands can spend more time in the library, or get a part-time job and do something about all this student poverty we hear so much about.


  2. “When the system is deregulated, universities will presumably think carefully before including the cost of too many student junkets in their price structure.”

    I doubt it. More and more universities are seeing the value in extracurricular/ study abroad programs, and are putting more funding into them, by way of direct subsidy rather than amenities fee style cross-subsidisation. While under a deregulated system, ‘no-frills’ style institutions might emerge which don’t offer such perks, I’d imagine the big 8 would be dangling all kinds of junkets as bait for the top students – from sporting trips to academic/activist conferences and exchange programs.

    Regardless of the influx of full-fee paying middle-agers, the predominant target market for undergrad education remains a group of highly mobile 18-25 year olds who are looking for a good time and interesting life experiences. The market wants junkets.


  3. iamspam – I think you are right about the G of 8 offering extracurricular experiences, though I think that part of their offering will be more carefully managed post than pre VSU. There will be greater price competition at other unis.


  4. The other thing the article shows is what the Sunday Age believes to be a worthy sense of entitlement to the earnings of others. Slow news day it may have been, but really!


  5. Rajat – Indeed. That people want hand-outs is hardly surprising, but for it to be reported as if their demands were self-evidently reasonable shows how deep the welfare culture is, in certain newspapers at least.


  6. If it’s about the decline of football, The Age will cover it. We’re talking about a state which is holding a parliamentary enquiry into the decline of country football, this is important stuff which goes to the heart of social capital.


  7. Andrew, I don’t dispute that there is a hidden “I expect others to subsidise me” assumption here, but I’m not sure it quite qualifies as an example of “ingrained welfare culture”. There is plenty of evidence of the need to encourage Australians to undertake more physical activity, so a nearly 60% drop in the amount of funding that went towards previously thriving sport & recreation services can hardly been seen as a “good thing”. Yes, that funding was there partly because students who didn’t make much use of university sports facilities were subidising the activities of others who did – but if that arrangement boosted overall levels of participation in physical activities, I would argue it was justified. Especially so if you could demonstrate that students who made use of sports facilities were more likely to go on to careers with higher salaries, meaning they would more than repay their debt to society.

    Anyway, at the end of day, it really should be up to Latrobe University to decide whether it wants to run such subsidisation programs. The current laws effectively prevent that.


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