Auckland University Students’ Association (AUSA) has given notice of withdrawal from the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA).
AUSA informed NZUSA President Linsey Higgins and Executive Director Alistair Shaw of the decision on Monday 9th May. It is the result of a review of NZUSA, which the AUSA Executive started in January 2016.
However, AUSA President Will Matthews said the AUSA Executive was keen to work with NZUSA to resolve its concerns about the service the national body provides and could reverse the decision to withdraw.
AUSA does not immediately cease to be a member. NZUSA’s constitutional requirements means that the withdrawal of a member association takes a year from the date notice is given. AUSA’s resignation is due to take effect on the 8th of May 2017.
“Because of the long resignation period, we would like to use our withdrawal as an opportunity to work with NZUSA to address issues we’ve identified”, said Matthews.
“We’ve been very clear that AUSA is supportive of the concept of a national student voice, and wants NZUSA to provide that voice. We want to be a part of NZUSA, but at the moment we don’t feel the service is worth the substantial levy that we pay.”
Matthews said AUSA’s experience had been that NZUSA has a good understanding of the unique problems that each student union association faces in terms of issues like funding and relationships with their relationship with their institution, but does not currently provide sufficient support.
“We would like to see better levels of organisation and communication, increased professionalism in NZUSA and more consultation with members,” he said.
“Our experience is that there is a lack of engagement with member associations in planning and implementing campaigns, feedback is not taken on board, and there is a perceived failure of NZUSA to understand and support member associations with local problems.
“Members often aren’t fully aware of what’s going on with campaigns and central government lobbying. There are also internal issues in terms of organising national meetings and constitutional changes.
“We are committed to reviewing our decision at the end of this year, and if the Executive sees some clear progress in the issues then we will reverse our withdrawal.
“This isn’t the end of the AUSA-NZUSA relationship, rather the beginning of a conversation about the future of it.”