Add Your Idea

Abolish tax payer funding of student unions

Comment 2nd July 2010

At the moment, universities are obliged by regulations to fund student unions on the basis of a levy per student. With record numbers of students, this means that at a time of austerity and cuts, student unions, which are not official organisations, are recieving record funding from the tax payer.

In addition to this record funding, the student unions receive privileged access to premises, utilities and IT services from the universities in which they reside. These are provided free or at pepercorn rates.

This funding and the provision of facilities and premises amounts to hundreds of millions per year.

Why does this matter?

Our money is very poorly spent. Freshers week shows you that it is used largely for entertainment, and running bars. Much of that entertainment, and many of the clubs and associations funded by the student unions are binge drink focused.

"Drink the bar dry" is one example of a student union event. It ran from 8.00am one day till 2.00am the following day with tax subsidised drinks at 99p or less. One student union ran its own "Carnage" event, without the brand owners permission but subsidised courtesy of  the tax payer.

Student unions are set up as charitable trusts and pay no tax yet they are on an unequal and anti-competitive footing. They operate in competition with legitimate and decent tax paying venues and entertainment companies. Despite all the advantages of tax payer funding, charitable status, privileged access to premises and facilities, there are significant examples and evidence that some student unions attempt to extend that advantage by unscrupilous and anti-competitive activities.

While there is a need for some support for students, some of whom may be away from home for the first time, this could be done cheaply by many organisations.

Student Unions are usually closed shops. When you enrol as a student you are automatically enrolled as a member of the student union. Your university card is usually the same as the university library card and student union card. If you try to opt out of student union membership it is almost impossible and you won't get a refund of the levy. Shouldn't  students have the choice? Perhaps they would prefer to have the money in their own pocket. Perhaps they would prefer that university course to still run. Perhaps they would prefer a lower tuition fee.

Research has shown that Student Unions are almost only accountable to their own members. They fall betwen the cracks of accountability. They receive public money with no public scrutiny and no conditions.

Many people belong to unions or subscribe to charitable groups or lobby groups. But they aren't funded by the tax payer. They are opt-in organisations funded by volontary subscriptions. They have to prove their worth.

Why is this particular union so special? Why is it so protected? Why is it so irresponsible? Why is it so unaccountable? Why are we funding it?

Student Unions are optional, expensive, irresponsible, unaccountable and unnecessary

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Highlighted posts


Comment on this idea

Good idea? Bad idea? Let us know your thoughts.


Back to top
Add Your Idea