Riverina MP Michael McCormack has spoken out against moves by a Coalition Senator to abolish mandatory student services fees.
Mr McCormack said students at Wagga’s Charles Sturt University would be worse off without the availability for the fees to fund services, events and amenities.
“I have had two of my children go through CSU...Georgina went to the university and attended lectures and Alexander is off-campus and goes there very rarely,” Mr McCormack said.
“I’ve told them both that it’s a fee that helps pay for things such as sport and recreational facilities, for the various groups that they have got out at the university campus.
“It does provide financial support for some students.”
Queensland Liberal senator James McGrath has given notice to move a private member’s bill in February that would prevent higher education institutions like CSU from charging the fees.
If passed, the bill would remove the last mandatory student financial contributions to campus activities.
Mr McCormack said he appreciated there were different views in parliament, including within the Coalition.
“Some city-based members might not share the same views as me,” he said.
Voluntary Student Unionism was signed into law in 2005 by the Howard Government but the subsequent Gillard Government allowed universities to charge mandatory services fees.
According to the CSU website, its 2019 services fee is “$37 per eight point subject, with a maximum annual fee amount capped at $296 per student”.
National Union of Students president Desiree Cai said the service fee was particularly important for regional campuses.
“Regional universities are not as well-funded as those in the city so it would mean that students would be left with fewer services,” she said.
“The fees support counselling, disability services, childcare and there’s also the social aspect as activities for young people are going to be less available than in the city.”
Ms Cai said she did not think there was a strong chance of the private members bill passing, but it would harm regional students if it did.
“All those support services and fun activities help students make new friends and stay in courses,” she said.
Back in 2013, Mr McCormack went up against Liberal ministers when he opposed a similar move to abolish service fees.
“I have never changed my stance,” he said.
“All domestic and overseas students pay that student services and amenities fee, regardless if they are studying online, by distance or off-campus or whether they attend a campus.”
While you’re with us, did you know that you can now receive updates straight to you inbox each day at 6am from the Daily Advertiser? To make sure you’re up to date with all the Wagga news sign up here.