Massey University has earmarked $164,000 of student levy money towards funding elite level sportspeople who only need to be enrolled in two papers per year to qualify for funding.
Elite sportspeople can apply for grants of up to $3000 to travel overseas to Olympic and Commonwealth Games, World Championship events and World University games.
MAWSA President Tom Pringle was unaware that so much money was going towards elite sport.
He was strongly opposed to the funding, believing that it should go towards encouraging the general student population to participate in sport and recreation.
“It’s a bad idea to fund elite sport when here in Wellington we had our own Rec Centre closed down recently. It’s hard to grow recreation at the amateur level in Wellington and that’s where the money should be invested.”
EXMSS President Megan Green was also unaware and opposed to the funding.
“Student levy money should be going to more overall services. [Elite sport] should be sponsored by Massey University, not by the student levy.”
MUSA President Nikita Skipper believed that elite sport should be funded by Massey University and believes that elite sportspeople funded out of the student levy should be made more available to the general student population.
“Massey should be paying out of their own pockets to fund elite sportspeople. I was unaware as MUSA President that we even had elite sportspeople funded by our student levy. We should be meeting these people more often.”
NZUSA President Linsey Higgins thinks Massey University should be consulting students more on where their student levy is spent.
“What kind of consultation went on so that students know where this money is going? I think Massey should be more transparent in where the money is going, especially if it is going towards elite sport.”
The total student levy collected each year comes to around $8million.
A full-time student pays an average of $546 in student levy fees per year.
In the last publically disclosed figures – those of 2014 – Massey allocated just over $1.37million of student levy money towards funding Clubs, Societies, Sports and Recreation.
The majority of the sports academy money will go towards the salary of high performance coordinators, one based in Albany and one based in Palmerston North.
These coordinators help the 350 athletes who are part of the Massey Academy of Sport to balance their sport and academic commitments.
There are eight supported athletes based at the Wellington campus, 27 in Albany and 50 in Palmerston North.
Of the 350 athletes that Massey supports, 250 are in Tier 1, meaning they are competing nationally and internationally.
The rest of the 350 athletes study by distance because they are training away from Massey’s three campuses.
Massey University Communications Director James Gardiner said that students had been consulted regularly over how their student levy is spent.
He said that the funding spent on athletes was done so because of the extra pressures they face as both students and athletes.
“It is important to recognise that the support for athletes is as much to help them succeed in their studies as it is to help them compete. It recognises the additional pressures they face, just as many other support services and scholarships aim to assist a range of other students.”
Gardiner also stated that students can discuss concerns they have around how their student levy is spent with their campus registrars.
“Our campus registrars hold student forums regularly and would welcome feedback at those on what students regard as priorities for the levy money. The university also consults student organisations annually as part of its fee-setting process.”
More information on how your student levy and fees are spent by Massey University can be found here: http://www.massey.ac.nz/?fc58c3441s