Charles Darwin University is working to ensure that services to support and represent students are maintained after the federal government’s ‘voluntary student union’ legislation comes into force later this year.
CDU Executive Director, Corporate Services, Dr Scott Snyder, says in line with the necessary changes as a result of the federal government decision, the current Students’ Union has gradually reduced its paid staff since mid-2005 by letting contracts run out, with its last two paid senior positions due to finish in the next fortnight.
The University has picked up the running on several student activities and projects, such as student O-Week events and the large-scale redevelopment of the Student Square, a high priority project identified by the union.
This major project, along with upgrades to the student cafeteria at Alice Springs, and responses to various student requests at Palmerston and Katherine campuses, have all been initiated by the University in the past six months.
“In November 2005, the University Council asked the Students’ Union to put forward a detailed business plan, acceptable to Council, in order to continue receiving funding from the University”, he said.
While such a plan was not received, Dr Snyder said funds of $300,000 had still been given to the union in 2005, to support the Student Union’s own strong cash reserves.
“We have put the remaining amenities funds directly into projects identified as high priority by the student populations in the various centres, and others - such as Planet Organic Darwin - that the union had withdrawn support from last year.
“By far the largest of these is the building of the new Student Square, which will be an outstanding venue for student events, bands, barbeques and other communal activities. We’ve had very enthusiastic feedback about this student hub already this year,” he said.
Dr Snyder says his team is now reviewing the range of student services and programs, to determine the best way to ensure students get what they need.
“It’s been a bit of a rush in a way. Late last year it looked the legislation was not going through – then it went through in December quite suddenly,“ he said.
“We’re now asking for input across all campuses and programs to see what staff and students identify as important services and amenities for students. Over the next two months we’ll be working with the Sports Association and the Students’ Union to work out how we can put it all together effectively within the new costing arrangements.”