The return of the amenities fee

The VSU debate is back on. Youth Minister Kate Ellis has announced that from mid-2009 universities will again – subject to Senate approval – be able to charge students for non-academic amenities. There are, however several significant differences from the pre-VSU situation:

* the amenities fee will be price capped, at $250
* there will be a new income-contingent loan scheme, SA-HELP, to help students pay for it
* what universities provide students will be regulated for the first time, with ‘national benchmarks relating to the provision of student support services’ and ‘new representation and advocacy protocols’
* actual membership of student assocations will continue to be voluntary

The Coalition is already brawling over it, with the Liberal students running a Save VSU Facebook group, Barnaby Joyce threatening to again cross the floor on the issue, and Shadow Minister Chris Pyne opposing money going to political activities, but leaving open the possibility of supporting a proposal that funded amenities only.

The government’s position is no more coherent. Continue reading “The return of the amenities fee”