Student levy just ain’t lucid enough

Students are seeking greater transparency around the division of the Student Services Levy paid by students each year.

The $546 fee paid by full-time students is divided up to fund various university services across the three campuses. The 2016 budget accounted for $8,032,700.

However, the levy came under scrutiny in April, when Massive revealed that $164,000 had been earmarked for the funding of elite sportspeople.

Massey University Vice Chancellor Steve Maharey discussed the Student Services Levy with Massive, commenting that more transparency would be “absolutely” beneficial to students.

“Every cent should go to something that you can see.”

He said that the student presidents had brought up the issue, and that the government also encouraged transparency.

MUSA President Nikita Skipper welcomes more transparency around the allocation of the levy, telling Massive:

“It’s healthy to see the university and students’ associations agreeing on something. Steve has pointed out perfectly the need to be transparent as it gives students the security that they are getting more bang for their buck.”

However, Maharey also warned that students should not perceive the levy as accountable to individuals.

“It won’t always be that the dollar will be spent on something that is directly useful to the particular student, but it should be something that people feel comfortable paying for.”

He suggested that the levy was intended to fund a better campus experience on the whole.

MAWSA President Tom Pringle says he agrees with Maharey that the student levy issue is a balancing act.

“I agree that students should not have complete control and start thinking of themselves first, leaving behind those vital services needed for disabled and less advantaged students.”

Pringle is a big proponent for more transparency, saying  “I do hope the University isn’t going to gloss over the transparency of the levy like they have in the past. I hope it’s not just lip service.”

The 2016 budget allocated 39 per cent of the levy to counselling and health services, 25 per cent to pastoral care, 18 per cent to clubs, cultural groups, societies, sport and recreation.

One Massey student Massive spoke to commented that students should not only have the right to know where their money goes, but have the information easily accessible.

“I am prepared to sacrifice under $5 for someone to potentially make it big time in their sporting endeavours. However, what about elite artists? Elite designers?

“What really isn’t right about this situation is the transparency. “

Another student told Massive: “I didn’t even know what the levy was.”

Massey encourages students to participate in the Student Feedback Forum, which occurs twice annually on campus and as an online survey. Student feedback is taken into account to determine how the student services levy is distributed each year.

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