The Gillard Government has today announced a review of the student representation guidelines associated with the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF), a year after the fee was introduced.
The SSAF has restored much needed services to university campuses across the country including sport and recreation activities, employment and career advice, child care, financial advice and food services.
Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, today announced the guidelines, which set benchmarks on access to student support services, representation and advocacy protocols, will be reviewed by a panel chaired by former MP Arch Bevis with nominees from the National Union of Students and Universities Australia.
"The Student Services and Amenities Fee has given universities the ability to restore critical student services that had been stripped away under the former Coalition government," Senator Evans said.
"The fee is providing universities across Australia with more than $250 million over four years to help deliver services such as academic support programs, financial advice and child care.
"These services are particularly important to students from rural and regional areas who move away from home and family to study.
"A key feature of the program is that students can benefit from better student services while they are at university but defer payment of the fee through a HECS-HELP style loan until they are earning a decent income."
Senator Evans said the legislation required universities to consult with students on the specific uses of the proceeds from any services and amenities fees.
"Students need to be confident that student fees are being used fairly and for the purpose intended," Senator Evans said.
"The Government understands students have a clear interest in how their fees are being spent and have listened to their concerns.
"That's why we're now reviewing the operation of the guidelines. We want to ensure they are operating clearly and transparently without unnecessary red tape."
The Student Services and Amenities Fee was implemented in October 2011. The maximum student fee in 2013 is $273.
The review is expected to be completed in mid-2013.
Media contacts: Minister's office 02 6277 7580