OUSA slashes its proposed budget

A proposed operations budget for the Otago University Students' Association has been slashed in the wake of a recent legislation change which introduced voluntary student membership (VSM) for 2012.

The OUSA executive has given notice of its proposed 2012 operations budget ahead of a referendum which is timed to coincide with student elections.

The proposed total budget of $1,362,395 for the OUSA's operations has been almost cut in half compared with the student association's 2011 financial expenditure.

MPs voted in Parliament last week to pass the Act New Zealand-introduced Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill, which will take effect from January 1, 2012.

The Bill means students must choose to join associations and, as such, the OUSA has opted not to set a levy for its prospective members, next year.

The OUSA has an operating budget of $2,508,962 this year, with the most significant components being a $683,534, or 27.2%, allocation of the total budget for "recreation", while a 23.2% allocation, or $537,000, is for administration costs.

Despite the two components retaining the most support in the proposed 2012 budget, administration costs have been cut back to $396,550 (29% of the overall budget) while recreation has fallen to $279,335, or 20.5% of the total.

Student magazine Critic reported major cuts have been made to organisations, including its parent company Planet Media Ltd, which derive much of their operational costs from OUSA funding.

Planet Media's Radio One and Critic have had their funding slashed from $172,000 to a proposed $50,000 for the two organisations.

Te Roopu, which represents Maori students at the University of Otago, has seen its proposed funding from the OUSA drop to $30,000 from $84,650, while the New Zealand University Students' Association is likely to receive $40,000 from the OUSA in 2012 compared with the $90,939 it gets this year.

OUSA funding for its events will be cut to $69,510 down from $206,450 - which will affect such traditions as Orientation week.

Proposed budget allocations for marketing and communications and the OUSA-run Student Support Centre have escaped the worst of the financial cuts, respectively granted $130,000 and $177,000 for their expenditure next year.

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