Revised Explanatory Memorandum(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Education, Science and Training the Hon Dr Brendan Nelson MP)
Outline and financial impact
The Bill will make student unionism a voluntary activity in higher education institutions.
The Bill will amend the Higher Education Support Act 2003 , to prohibit all higher education providers (public and private) from:
- requiring a person to become a member of a student association (union or guild)
- requiring a student to pay fees for non-academic student services
While the measures prohibit payment of an amount in respect of the provision to students of amenities or services that are not of an academic nature, an exception is made for payments of amounts for certain goods or services set out in proposed subsection 19-37(3). These exceptions are explained later in this Memorandum.
The Bill also provides for a formula to reduce a higher education provider's basic grant amount for a grant year if they breach the voluntary student unionism requirements in proposed section 19-37 and for the reduction amount component of the formula to be indexed from 2007. As part of these arrangements, if the Minister becomes aware that a higher education provider has breached the voluntary student unionism provisions by requiring a person to pay money to the provider or another entity, then the Minister will be obliged to issue that higher education provider with a written notice to remedy the breach within 28 days by repaying those monies. Failure to repay within that period will result in a reduction of the provider's basic grant amount for the grant year in question in accordance with the formula provided for in the Bill.
The Bill will also require Open Learning Australia to comply with these requirements as if it were a higher education provider.
These measures will ensure that a student cannot have their results withheld or face expulsion if they have not paid a fee to join a student organisation.