An Independent Review of the Student Tax

The Student Services and Amenities Fee has collected more than half a billion dollars from tertiary students since 2012. From day 1, the Young Liberals have opposed this unfair, undemocratic and unnecessary Student Tax.

The Student Tax hits struggling students the hardest, while benefitting those students who are better off and therefore have more time to engage in activities and the services that it funds. Australian students deserve better and should be able to have confidence in the system.

There have been countless revelations of waste and mismanagement by student unions, including spending Student Tax funding on food and alcohol, as well as on affiliation fees to the politically motivated National Union of Students. Despite this, there have only been nine departmental investigations, most of which inexplicably found that the allowed expenditure was within the bounds of the legislation.

That’s why we’ve made a detailed submission seeking an independent review of the governance and administration of the Student Services and Amenities Fee. While we think the Student Tax should be axed, we recognise that more evidence needs to be on the table and we believe this review is an important first step to identifying any shortfalls.

Such a review should specifically consider:

  • Whether the Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Student Services and Amenities) Act 2011 adheres to good governance principles;
  • Whether the levels of accountability and oversight are appropriate for this government-enforced collection of funds;
  • Whether the safeguards in place are adequate; and
  • The occurrence of cross-subsidisation within student unions to use SSAF funding on permitted matters while using other funds, made available by virtue of the funding, on matters not permitted under the legislation.

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