The Student Services & Amenities Fee

WellFair 2

SSAF & US

So much of what UNE Life is able to provide is thanks to the Student Services & Amenities Fee, or “SSAF”. The SSAF, was introduced in 2012 after the Australian Government passed legislation for collections to occur, to ensure universities were able to provide services and amenities of a non-academic nature, such as sporting, cultural and recreational activities, orientation programs, student led clubs & societies, and more.

As the provider for services and amenities on campus, UNE Life receives a significant portion of SSAF funding (34% in 2019), and this either directly provides, or contributes to, a number of programs and services.

The University charges the SSAF fee in different ways (per 6 credit points for domestic course work) and has established a SSAF consultative committee to determine funding allocations year to year.

You can find out more information on how the University manages the SSAF process here

Below, is an overall fly-over of how UNE Life receives and uses the SSAF funding we receive. If you would like a more in-depth discussion of how we’re using the fee, or would like to offer feedback throughout the year, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

How does UNE Life receive SSAF funding?

UNE Life receives SSAF funding in arrears. That is to say that we expend the money for the activity, and then provide actuals to the University to be reimbursed for the real cost of conducting that activity.

For example: UNE Life may receive an application for $1200 of Clubs Funding from the underwater basket-weaving society. UNE Life will deposit the full $1200 into the Society’s bank account, however when acquitting that money it becomes clear that the Society used only $1000.

Consequently, $200 is reimbursed to the Clubs program, and only the $1000 is charged to SSAF.

We find this is the most effective way of managing SSAF and maintaining actual costs.

What does UNE Life SSAF funding cover?

The funding UNE Life receives from SSAF either directly covers or contributes to key student services & amenities. These services are continuously shaped and informed through review processes and feedback, either on specific projects or as part of ongoing measurement such as our Annual Experience Survey.

The graph below provides a comparative breakdown of the allocation of UNE Life SSAF funds, however individual services or areas include:

  • Advocacy & Welfare (a legislated service)
    SSAF funding contributes to staffing and some operations. UNE Life makes a significant investment with an additional staff member, staff training, and some other small items. 
  • Exam Food
    Based on positive feedback, UNE Life provides food (bananas, muffins, etc.) to students immediately before they sit exams at the Armidale campus exam centres. Water has been removed (controversially!) in recent years to lower the cost of the activation and to encourage students to think sustainably. We hope to adjust this program in future years to be more welfare focused.
  • Tune!FM
    Tune!FM is Australia’s oldest University broadcaster and in addition to SSAF funding, runs on the sheer passion of or student volunteers. More than a station, Tune!FM is a skills-development program, student engagement tool, and is responsible for much of the student activity you see both around campus, and hopefully from 2020 on, around the country with some plans to better engage our students who are not studying at the Armidale campus.
  • Clubs & Societies
    We’ve been steadily growing the clubs program, both in terms of student involvement, and indirect funding that is available. We figure “why aim to produce all the events that happen on and off campus when we can resource clubs to do it for their cohort”. Often, clubs can rally their fellow students better than we can and so from 2020, we’ll be focusing more on supporting clubs and club governance to operate online, and around the country. For us, Clubs & Societies is an enormously important part of the co-curricular experience of University, and we fight hard to give them everything they need.
  • UNE Life Food Pantry
    A pilot in 2019 , the UNE Life Food Pantry was administered with enormous support of a UNE Life paid position in Advocacy & Welfare. The aim is to address food security across the on-campus population of UNE students which was raised through consultation with student groups, and reinforced by the release of the Universities Australia report after the pilot was raised, demonstrating that 1 in 7 students regularly go without food. The pilot is hoped to continue in 2020, with ever-increasing refinement on how best to meet the needs of all students.
  • Activations & Events
    in addition to Orientation, UNE Life (through Tune!FM) has become responsible for delivering UNE events throughout the year at the Armidale campus. These have previously included “Wellfair”, “Summer”, “Autumn” and “Winter” as well as other smaller activations surrounding key University messaging. These events, whilst also intended to be social and fun, revolve around messages such as exam preparation, mental health services, and census date.
  • SportUNE
    SportUNE is far more than a sport and fitness centre on campus, it is the hub for all University sport, sport representation, athletes, UNE Sports Academy, intercollegiate sport, club sport, sports scholarships – the list goes on. In order to maintain the impressive offerings of services and physical assets in a “semi” commercial environment, both the University & SSAF make a generous contribution to SportUNE. SSAF’s contribution is specifically more student participation through further subsidy of membership and facility usage, UniSport representation subsidy, intercollegiate sport, and staffing.
  • Food & Beverage Subsidy
    all UNE students receive a 10% subsidy across the range of food and beverage (not including alcoholic beverages) across campus.

Why does UNE Life rely on funding?

Some people might see the money being handed over the counter at SportUNE and ask the question: “why do you need SSAF funding when you have commercial income?”

A part of this question is easy – we provide pure student services that attract no income at all. If we continue the example of SportUNE, these services includes UniSport, MBPT, and the staffing associated with this. SSAF is generous to provide funding for us to be able to offer these programs.

Then there is the contribution component.

SportUNE is of course an impressive facility, with hectares of playing fields, fitness facilities, group fitness rooms, a stadium, an AFL oval, the list goes on. We boast some of the most impressive sport participation rates in the country and our facilities are always in use during Trimester. The cost to maintain these facilities across the entire year, however, is real. In fact, if UNE Life were to charge the real cost of membership to maintain these facilities, membership would be closer to $1000 per annum.

Of course, we aim to provide just the opposite and ensure that students are able to access our facilities at a cost that is more aligned with what they can afford.

The contributions that SportUNE receive enable students and student clubs to make use of the facilities throughout the year, at a rate reasonable to them. The same is true across entertainment, food, and beverage services.