The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) is a federation of 14 University and Polytechnic student associations from across New Zealand. Your students’ association is an active member of NZUSA and funds your national body through your association levy.
NZUSA was formed in 1929 and for over eighty years has represented the collective interests of students to Government, the public and the rest of the tertiary sector. NZUSA Federation Officers are based in Wellington and provide a voice for all students on issues that affect them. They organise campaigns, provide education and networking opportunities for your students’ association, talk to the media and undertake research in order to promote a better quality education for all students.
The NZUSA office is based in Wellington, with three officers (two Co-Presidents and a National Women’s Rights Officer) and two staff. In 2011 the Co-Presidents will be David Do (University of Auckland) and Max Hardy (Victoria University of Wellington). The National Women’s Rights Officer will be Caitlin Dunham (Victoria University of Wellington).
NZUSA’s main role is as a national voice for tertiary students and represents the political unity, goals and strength of tertiary students from all over New Zealand. We are a flax-roots organisation directed by students, for students. NZUSA believes that it is fundamentally important to stand up for student and graduate rights, fight against the harshness of the student loan scheme, lobby for a universal living allowance for all students and promote high quality, properly funded barrier free tertiary education. NZUSA believes that tertiary education should be a right and not a privilege, and therefore, advocates for equal access for all.
In 2008 NZUSA made Universal Student Allowances a number one policy priority. This involved organizing protests, staging stunts and lobbying political parties. Our collective efforts paid off and during the election campaign, Labour made a promise to introduce student allowances incrementally culminating in full universal student allowances by 2012. National didn’t make this commitment, but the Government has made comments about increasing the availability of student allowances and this is a positive sign.
2009 was an interesting year for students. Not only were several major scholarships cut, but the Government made no new commitment to increasing the overall tertiary education budget for 2011, which will inevitable mean larger fee increases and students paying more each year for their degrees. 2011 will be a crucial year for the student movement – not only will we all keep fighting against anti-student legislation (voluntary student membership) but also fighting to keep education in the 21st century open, accessible and affordable.
The gains that NZUSA has achieved for students over the last few years have not occurred in isolation. They are the result of the collective effort of a decade of student leaders, working together to fight the injustices of student debt and create greater accessibility for students. The baby boomers left our generation with a legacy of debt and user-pays whilst they received a free education. Let’s not do the same thing to future generations. If you don’t want to see the achievements of the student movement go to waste, then get involved in NZUSA campaigns and support your local student association.
More information about NZUSA and what we do can be found at www.students.org.nz or by calling the office on (04) 498 2500.