Skip to main content
search

State Council Perspectives

Israel-Palestine Conflict

  • The TUSA acknowledges the complexities of the current situation for individuals in our state affected by the events in Gaza and Israel. At this challenging time, we encourage all students and staff to extend understanding, kindness, and support to those who may be impacted, in line with our ongoing commitment to fostering a culture of learning and knowledge.
  • The TUSA remains steadfast in its commitment to safeguarding the safety and welfare of students, in line with our core mission of advancing education. We acknowledge the concerning trends of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism impacting Muslim and Jewish students within and beyond campus boundaries. Just as we reject the notion that Hamas represents the broader Palestinian community, we categorically reject the notion that the actions of the Israeli Government are a reflection of Jewish values or represent the aspirations of the entire Australian Jewish community.
  • The TUSA condemns the actions of Hamas militants on 7 October 2023, which saw 1,200 people killed in Israel and around another 250 taken hostage.
  • The TUSA also condemns the now over 18-week long offensive conducted by the Israeli Defence Forces that has seen over 28,300 Palestinians killed since 7 October 2023 at a rate of over 200 people each day, two-thirds of them women and children, and the widespread damage and destruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza, including education facilities, hospitals, churches, and mosques.
  • The TUSA calls for a ceasefire on humanitarian grounds. The TUSA also urges the Israeli Government to comply with the mandated provisional measures made by the International Court of Justice on 26 January 2024.
  • The TUSA stands in opposition to the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, and the risk of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, by the Israeli Government.
  • The TUSA supports the UN Security Council’s view that the Israeli Government’s settlements in West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are illegal.
  • The TUSA calls for an end to the oppression of Palestinian people through the use of excessive violence perpetrated by the Israeli Government, illegal settlers and the Israeli Defence Force.
  • We recognise that the occupation and treatment of Palestinian lives have seen credible allegations of ongoing violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law as established by the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
  • We also recognise research which shows that the Israeli Government has engaged in crimes against humanity of persecution and of apartheid.
  • Additionally, we acknowledge those Palestinians that are presently being held in administrative detention without charge or trial.
  • The TUSA is committed to uplifting the voices of those affected students and staff and protecting their right to demonstrate and voice their lived experience. The TUSA will oppose any policies that may seek to prohibit valid criticism of the Israeli Government, illegal settlers and the Israeli Defence Force by students or staff.
  • The TUSA denounces hate speech and bigotry of any kind. We are committed to inclusivity for all students that appreciates the unique ethnocultural and faith-based experiences of our students.
  • This stance adopted by the TUSA is a reflection of our values and principles which we hold and the previous positions we have taken in supporting and acknowledging the atrocities and injustices across the broader Australian landscape.

University Accords

  • The Australian Universities Accord Final Report was released on the 25 February 2024 with recommendations and targets to transform higher education. The plan aims to enhance the quality, accessibility, affordability, and sustainability of higher education in Australia. The TUSA had an opportunity to provide a submission to the Accord Panel in September 2023, and we are pleased that a key area we highlighted on ‘Affordability and Overcoming Financial Barriers’ for students was included in the final report.
  • There are aspects of the Accord that are encouraging and overall, there are great steps that have been made in the right direction, including:
    • Raising tertiary attainment from 60% – 80%.
    • Improving access to and addressing increasing key student payments.
    • Paid placement support for students.
    • A National Student Ombudsman.
    • Expanding access and funding for key groups, such as regional, low socioeconomic, and First Nations students, and acknowledging the intersectionality and additional needs of these students.
  • “The Accords have rightly recognised the unique environment that regional universities operate in, and the increased difficulties and barriers that our students face in accessing and attaining higher education” said TUSA President Liam McLaren.
  • We are also pleased to see Recommendation 19 in the report, which outlines:
    • “The Australian Government ensure that a proportion of the Student Services and Amenities Fee received by each higher education provider be directed to these organisations to deliver agreed services and amenities”.
  • However, we believe that this allocation should be more specific and transparent. The Student Services and Amenities Fees (SSAF) are paid by students to provide services that students need to have a positive and supportive experience in achieving their outcomes.
  • In 2023, only 19% of SSAF funding was allocated to TUSA, which remains the peak body representing students at the University of Tasmania. This percentage has decreased from 43% in 2012, indicating a systematic undermining of the student voice at our institution.
  • President Liam McLaren reiterated, “The Federal Government must ensure, through legislation, that a minimum 50% of the Student Services and Amenities Fees are being directed to student-led organisations if they are truly committed to improving student outcomes and student experiences.”
  • Overall the recommendations and targets in the Accord are a huge win for higher education in Tasmania and takes a large stride forward, if and when it is implemented, in increasing access to higher education through the needs based funding model, reducing existing barriers such as financial government payments and placement poverty, providing employment to students aligned with study, and recognises the obstacles that regional, low-socioeconomic and First Nations students face in accessing higher education.
  • “The release of the Accords is only the first stage in creating a better future for higher education students in Tasmania. We need to see federal government moving swiftly and non-partisan support in getting these recommendations through parliament, and our state government and education minister to recognise the role they play in supporting our students!” stated Liam McLaren.

University Accords - DiSCo

  • The Disability Students Collective (DiSCo), which advocates for students with disabilities and long-term health conditions at the University of Tasmania deplores the weak response from the University Accord Final Report (the Report) in addressing the needs of students with disabilities and long-term health conditions. The Report is an opportunity missed, a muddying of the waters and a reaffirmation that students with disabilities and long-term health conditions are not fully understood. DiSCo calls for the Federal Education minister, Jason Clare to clarify where the Report places the importance of students with disabilities and long-term health conditions in the success of reaching the recommended targets by 2050.
  • There’s lots of us: The prevalence of disabilities and chronic health conditions in Australia.
    • While 18% 1 of the Australian population live with disabilities, another 22%1 of people have long-term health conditions. The prevalence of disability and long-term health conditions transcends cultural, socio-economic, and geographical divides. With such a significant prevalence, what impacts us resonates and ripples throughout Australian society. Therefore, a strong focus on students with disabilities and long-term health conditions is paramount in achieving the targets recommended in the Report.
  • An opportunity missed: Not recognising intersectionality across cohorts.
    • The Report identifies the four cohorts of, Low socio-economic status (Low SES), First Nations Peoples (FNP), Remote and Regional, and Disability as underrepresented in tertiary participation and completion. The Report does little to acknowledge and inform of the challenges encompassed in the intersectionality of students with disabilities and long-term health conditions across cohorts. This omission implies that these four cohorts are distinct and separate. This is the missed opportunity. The prevalence of disabilities alone across Low SES at 38%,2 Remote and Regional at 23.1%,3 and FNP at 51%4 sends a clear message that heavy lifting on an unprecedented scale is required to meet the 2050 target of Certificate III and Higher Education qualifications attainment to 80%.
    • It is a significant flaw of the Report not to encompass the entirety of disability representation within their data. Many students with disabilities and long-term health conditions fall into the category of “not disabled enough” to receive financial and living supports for significant assistance and rely heavily and exclusively on universities and workplaces to accommodate them. Applying a limited dataset inevitably has led the University Accord panel to perceive students with disabilities and long-term health conditions as a marginalised equity group rather than recognising them as a significant demographic embedded across all cohorts requiring substantial attention and reform within the education sector.
  • A muddying of the waters: A proposal for a clearer way forward
    • By not demonstrating a commitment to undertake a determined effort in addressing the prevalence of students with disabilities and long-term health conditions with a clear way forward to reach the 2050 targets creates uncertainty. To not include students with disabilities and long-term health conditions, and staff in the design would cement the Report’s fate. By way of providing clarity the National Union of Students (NUS) has proposed a Tertiary Education roadmap that addresses the systematic education gap faced by Australians with disability and advocates for the inclusion of students with disabilities and long-term health conditions in the design process.
  • People with disability and long-term health conditions are not fully understood in the Report. The experience of participants emerging from a rushed two-hour round table discussion just before submission to the minister exemplifies the prevailing misunderstanding of students with disabilities and long-term health conditions. Despite being a crucial opportunity to address longstanding concerns, the Report overlooks key issues highlighted by advocates. Its glaring omission of explicit recommendations regarding the establishment of a Disability Education Commissioner (the Report has recommended a part time Equity Commissioner), the imperative of employing individuals with disabilities within university settings, and the implementation of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is deeply disheartening. This oversight perpetuates the marginalisation of students with disabilities and long-term health conditions within academic spaces, failing to adequately recognise and understand our diverse needs and contributions.
  • Students with disabilities and long-term health conditions are not just another marginalised equity group but real people interwoven through the fabric of our society. DiSCo calls on the minister to give students with disabilities and long-term health conditions certainty with a National Tertiary Education roadmap and success will follow. Just like anyone else we do best when there is certainty, with a future that is certain comes hope and from hope springs aspiration.

National Action Plan on Gender Based Violence

  • The TUSA State Council endorses the recently published National Action Plan for addressing gender-based violence in higher education and supports the call for a National Student Ombudsman and National Student Charter. 
    • We see the implementation of a new Student Ombudsman as giving students a viable pathway for filing complaints about their University’s response to reports of sexual assault. 
    • Equally, we see the implementation of a National Student Charter as crucial in providing the Student Ombudsman real power over universities. 
    • The announcement of the National Action Plan on Gender Based Violence comes after years of amazing student advocacy from key victim advocacy groups such as End Rape on Campus, Stop Campaign, and the Fair Agenda. To get to this point has been an extremely long process, and we would not be here today without these groups. The TUSA State Council thanks each of them, and all student and victim advocates that have been a part of the fight over the years to get us to this point today.

Paid Placements Support

  • The Australian University Accords Final Report was released by the Federal Education Minister on the 25th of February 2024. Within the final report, 47 recommendations were made, one of which was Recommendation 14: Introduce financial support for unpaid work placements.
  • The TUSA State Council unequivocally supports national calls for the introduction of financial support for placements and recognises the huge financial burden taken on by many of our students in simply fulfilling the placement requirements of their degrees. 
  • Paid placements are needed as part of Australia recognising the importance of education and training our next generation of professionals. Without these financial supports, class divides will only continue to expand within degrees with placements as those with the financial means to complete a placement are the only ones able to graduate from these degrees.
  • Paid placements would provide students with a well-needed reprieve during the ongoing Cost of Living crisis that we are experiencing and would be the difference for many students between undertaking a degree or not. 

HECS Indexation

  • On the 1st of June 2023 student HELP debts rose by 7.1 percent due to indexation. 
    • This reflects an average increase of $1677 to student debt nationwide.
    • For those that earn under $63,000, their debt will increase in 2023 even while making repayments.
    • This increase reflects the largest increase in 32 years. 
  • The TUSA State Council is of the position that the Federal Government must immediately freeze indexation whilst a less flawed system is investigated. 
    • HECS-HELP loans are paid through the Federal Government borrowing the money at the Federal Bank 10-Year cash rate, that currently stands at 3.6%, meaning that the government stands to profit $2.5 billion off some of Australia’s most financially vulnerable people.
    • Further flaws are shown by national student debt tripling in the last decade from $25.5 billion to $74.4 billion. 
    • The Federal Government must act now to provide urgent and needed financial relief to Australia’s university students and graduates. 
  • The TUSA State Council recognises that this is only another burden placed upon the already overloaded shoulders of University of Tasmania students and graduates. With skyrocketing rents and costs-of-living, students are being left to feel that they cannot catch a break. 
  • The TUSA State Council will support national calls for a review of the current indexation system, and to identify a more appropriate system for managing student debts.

Action on Racism On-Campus

  • The Australian University Accords Final Report was released by the Federal Education Minister on the 25th of February 2024. Within the final report, 47 recommendations were made, one of which was Recommendation 33: Conduct a survey into the prevalence and impact of racism across the tertiary education system. 
  • The TUSA State Council recognises that our University is not exempt from issues of racism on-campus or within the structural systems of our institution, and instead calls for the University of Tasmania to not wait for national action in this space, and instead seek to be a leader in hearing student concerns, reviewing internal systems, and to create an action plan for addressing racism on-campus. 
  • The TUSA State Council will continue to advocate for the University to move swiftly against racism on campus and will work with the University to create the best and most inclusive environment possible for all students. 

Invasion Day

  • The TUSA State Council stands in solidarity with our Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander students, staff, and broader Australian community in calling for an end to celebrating ‘Australia Day’ as held on the 26th of January each year. In particular the Palawa and Pakana people of Lutruwita/Tasmania, the Wangal and Gadigal people of the Eora nation/Rozelle, and the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Bunurong/Boon Wurrung peoples of Kulin/Melbourne, upon whose land many from our community reside and visit, and whose land is recognised as First Nations land and valued by our community.
  • We assert that celebrations held on this day can never truly unite our country when it directly clashes with the Day of Mourning held by our First Nations people.
  • Our national day should be one that unites our communities, that brings people together, yet also reflects truthfully and honestly on our nation’s history.
  • In taking this position we respect that sections of the broader Australian community may choose to celebrate this day. There are different paths to truth telling, acceptance, and reconciliation, not everyone arrives at the same point at the same time.
  • The TUSA State Council calls on students to join us in a show of solidarity by not participating in this day as a public holiday of celebration, but see this day as one of mourning and reflection, and to participate in their local Invasion Day rallies if they feel comfortable to do so.

waranta takara ngamala Pakana, Wangal, Gadigal, Wurrung Woi Wurrung, Bunurong ngini takara

We walk where Pakana, Wangal, Gadigal, Wurrung Woi Wurrung, and Bunurong peoples old people walked.

Federal Government Enquiry into Sexual Consent Laws

  • In September, the Legal & Constitutional Affairs References Committee tabled a report to the federal parliament titled, Current & proposed sexual consent laws in Australia.
    • This report provided a list of 17 recommendations to parliament in regard to changes to consent laws.
  • This report followed months of constant media and attention following the Interim University Accords report that called into question universities handling of sexual assault and harrassment on campus, including campaigns from peak victim support groups, campaigns which the TUSA State Council supported and contributed to.
  • The report tabled three recommendations which targeted the higher education sector, Recommendations 15 through 17.
    • In short, these were;
      • That Universities Australia conducts a National Student Safety Survey, with results made publicly available no later than 2025.
      • That the Commonwealth government implements an independent taskforce with strong powers to oversight universities’ policies and practices to prevent and respond to sexual violence on campus.
      • That the Commonwealth government conducts an independent review of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency’s response to sexual violence on university campuses.
    • This report was accompanied by passionate speeches that recognised the horrific state that students currently face when it comes to sexual violence on campus and non-partisan support from all sides of government.
  • The TUSA State Council welcomes this report and the recommendations that have been made.
  • The TUSA State Council has been disappointed by a noticeable lack of action by UTAS to address the outcomes of this report and the impacts it has on our students – it had the opportunity to be on the front-foot but has been missed.
  • The TUSA State Council call on the University to publicly acknowledge this report, outside a brief statement in Togatus, and the growing public dissent being directed at universities nationally and here in Tasmania, for their handling of sexual violence on campus.
  • The time for change is now and this must be the priority item for the University as we students deserve better!

UTAS Announce Independent Enquiry into SASH

  • The University of Tasmania recently revealed within the second edition of Togatus 2023 that they intend to conduct an independent audit of how they deal with sexual assault and harassment.
  • The TUSA State Council welcomes this announcement after months of State Council members constantly calling into question the work the university does in this space.
    • Yet, the TUSA State Council will be ensuring that this process is given the resourcing, dedication, and support it needs to ensure that real change can occur.
    • We know that low reporting numbers does not correlate with low incidents and rather a low level of perceived trust within the student-body in the complaints and supports processes that the university has in place to support victims.
  • With increasing national attention and federal government oversight of issues of sexual assault and harassment on campus, the University of Tasmania must improve their complaints processes, the support they offer to victims, and the safety on campus. Victims should not have to be retraumitised by the processes of complaints that the universities have in place!

AI at UTAS

  • 2023 has seen a dramatic change in university assessments and the way we do things more generally with the prevalence of generative artificial intelligence.
  • The development of generative AI has left students the option to utilise a resource that greatly reduces the time taken to complete assessments, capable of generating high quality outputs that are almost unrecognisable as not student work.
    • This has left universities scrambling worldwide to understand what this means when it comes to academic integrity and to produce methods to detect its use within assessments.
  • Turnitin has led this arms race with the release of their generative AI.
    • Originally quite successful, yet with the nature of an arms race, they have always and will always remain one step behind the technology meaning that there will always remain loopholes.
    • Furthermore, with the embedding of generative AI now in endorsed student resources and tools such as Grammarly, the university has now seen cases of false positives with the use of this tool, and students are wrongly being accused of academic misconduct and forced to go through appeals processes.
    • Finally, the Turnitin generative AI detection tool does not provide students with this score on their side of the software, and students are none-the-wiser of any potential risk they may be in with an academic breach either before they submit or after they submit their assessment. A fact that has been noted throughout 2023, yet there have been no changes in this space.
  • The TUSA State Council calls on the university to call into question their pursuit of academic integrity monitoring utilising this aspect of Turnitin and move away from this software as soon as possible as it lacks transparency, has shown to be ineffective, and is unnecessarily calling students into disrepute and placing them under immense stress with more than apology given to those who are falsely accused.

University World Rankings

  • In the 2024 Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, the University of Tasmania climbed to being ranked in the 251-300 bracket. This is an improvement after being ranked in the 301-350 bracket for the 2023 rankings.
  • The TUSA State Council congratulates the University for this achievement and recognition of their work. Yet, we recognise that there is much improvement still to be had in many areas across the University and we will continue to push the University management to strive for further improvements.

Reconciliation Week

  • Reconciliation Week serves as a reminder of the collective opportunity that we all have to be a shared voice for reconciliation. In honouring the work of generations past and current, and the benefit of generations future. It is our responsibility, and we encourage you, to engage in meaningful and compassionate conversation, education, and reflection. To amplify the voices of Indigenous peoples, acknowledge their histories, cultures, and contributions. To wok towards building genuine relationships based on respect and understanding. It’s time to move beyond words and take real action towards reconciling with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. “waranta takara milaythina naru takara – we walk where they walked.”

Times' Higher Education Impact Rankings

  • The TUSA State Council have seen the latest Times’ Higher Education Impact Rankings released, and we have seen our university do immensely well, achieving record rankings in most areas and once again named #1 in Climate Action, and possibly more impressively, #5 overall across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
    • This achievement has come from years of student and staff blood, sweat, and tears, in fighting to push this University in the direction that aligns with the values that so many of its staff and students hold so dearly!
    • From the student protests and sit-ins to originally get the University and the student union to divest from fossil fuels, to the Sustainable Integration Program for Students and the ongoing work and research they do in this space.
  • The University would not be where it is today without the determined and passionate drive from students who refused to take no for an answer, or that refused to accept that it would be ‘too hard’.
    • Yet again those students wold not have made it without some amazing support from certain staff at the University that helped them and drove things from the inside, every single step of the way.
  • This announcement provides students past, present, and future, a reminder of the reasons that they can have pride in teir university, and to have hope for the future to drive the UTAS to only improve the work they are doing in the sustainability space. We want to be #1 across every SDG, not just one!

SSAF is for Students

  • The University of Tasmania student experience is at a crisis point, Tasmanian enrolments are falling, students are being forced to accept an increasingly online experience, ad student discontent is at an all-time high.
  • Challenges include increasing cost of living, housing and rental stress, availability of safe and nutritious food and access to health and wellbeing supports.
  • At the same time, the connection between students, the faculty and the services people need are being impacted by an increasingly online experience.
  • The Student Services and Amenities Fees (SSAF) are paid by students to provide services that students need to have a positive and supported experience in achieving their student outcomes.
  • The current state of Student Services and Amenities Fees (SSAF) expenditure at the University of Tasmania, that sees 81 per cent of funding placed in University departments, and only 19 per cent reflected in funding our student association, the Tasmanian University Student Association (TUSA), which remains the peak body representing students at the University of Tasmania. SSAF funding under student control has decreased from 43 per cent in 2012 to just 19 per cent in 2023, evidencing the systematic undermining of the student voice.
  • In other states there is a much higher proportion of SSAF funds that are provided to student associations to undertake this work including universities from Western Australia, Victoria, and Australian Capital Territory.
  • By its nature, TUSA is accountable to students and is transparent in the allocation and use of SSAF and the way that student money is spent on the improvement of the student experience, student services, and amenities.
  • The TUSA State Council therefore call on the University to ensure at least 51% of SSAF funding is allocated to the student association as the association that represents all students at the University of Tasmania.

Worsening Cost of Living Crisis

  • In early 2022, a report revealed that 42% of UTAS students experienced food insecurity, meaning they were unsure of where their next meal would come from. Unfortunately, the situation in Tasmania has only worsened since then. With a Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase of 7.9% in 2022, rental prices have surged by 25% since the beginning of 2020 across the region. Additionally, crucial student support programs such as Youth Allowance, Abstudy, and Austudy have failed to keep up with the rising cost of living, while HECS-HELP Debt continues to accumulate interest.
  • These challenges have arisen during an unprecedented time for the Tasmanian community. UTAS students now find themselves working an average of 26.4 hours per week, equivalent to a 0.67FTE job, just to sustain themselves. To put this in perspective, back in 1984, students worked only 5 hours per week, and in 2000, that number increased to 14.
  • In response to this crisis, the TUSA has taken steps to launch its own food bank. However, the university denied their funding request of just $100,000 by the end of 2022.
    • Consequently, the student association has been forced to seek external grants, the outcomes of which are still unknown. In the meantime, TUSA has partnered with Loaves & Fishes to provide 50 students per week with access to rescued fresh fruits and vegetables.
    • Nevertheless, the TUSA State Council acknowledges that this initiative barely scratches the surface in addressing the issue.
  • The TUSA State Council expresses disappointment with the university’s lack of action on this matter. The university has spoken of expanding access to lower-socioeconomic areas of Tasmania as part of their campus relocation plans, yet they have failed to ensure that their existing students have access to food and adequate housing. Moreover, from the perspective of the students, the university’s explanation of tight budgetary constraints while reporting profits for 2022 suggests that students are not their priority.
    • The TUSA State Council is committed to continuing their efforts to provide students with basic human needs such as housing, food, and medical care. They will fight for the rights of the students and advocate for a more supportive university environment!

Move into the City

  • The TUSA State Council maintains the stance that there should be no changes to the physical location of university campuses in the South of Tasmania unless certain conditions are met. These conditions include:
    1. Improved Communication, Engagement, and Transparency: The University of Tasmania must demonstrate a genuine and concerted effort to enhance communication, engagement, and transparency with students. The TUSA State Council emphasizes the importance of fostering an open and inclusive dialogue between the university and its student body.
    2. Maintenance of Educational Quality and Student Experience: The university needs to provide evidence that any potential change in location would not have a negative impact on the quality of education or the overall student experience for both current and future students. It is crucial to ensure that the transformation process does not compromise the educational standards or the well-being of students.
    3. Accessibility of University Facilities and Learning Environments: The TUSA State Council insists that the university commits to making its facilities and learning environments accessible to all students. Accessibility should be a fundamental aspect of any decisions regarding campus locations or future developments.
  • The TUSA State Council continues to urge the university to improve its consultation processes with both current and prospective students. They highlight the current lack of substantial and meaningful consultation, characterizing the existing levels of engagement as sparse and tokenistic.
  • According to the TUSA State Council, the University of Tasmania is a public institution meant to serve the entire state. Therefore, any decisions regarding the university’s future directions and locations should be subject to extensive discussion and debate within the public forum. The council believes that the current levels of communication, transparency, and engagement with both the university’s students and the broader community are significantly inadequate and in need of improvement.

Parliamentary Inquiry into UTAS

  • TUSA State Council submitted a formal submission to the University of Tasmania Act 1992 Review in August 2022.
  • As the only University in our State, it is incredibly important that UTAS is transparent and accountable to not only students but the broader community as it is a public research and educational institution.
  • Universities have changed greatly in the last 30 years. It is important to review the Act to ensure UTAS remains functional, relevant, and true to purpose.
    • The State Council believes significant changes to University governance are needed for students to be given more formal roles in decision-making and influence.
  • A Parliamentary Inquiry by the Legislative Council is an opportunity for the University to have the concerns of the public addressed in a structured and impartial way.
    • As there are several matters of great public concern being discussed (the move into Hobart City, the law school, etc.), this provides a forum to address well-known issues and perhaps bring to light new ones.
  • The TUSA State Council President was invited to make further representations to the Select Committee on December 13th. You can view the transcript here.

Archived Messaging

UTAS Business School Rankings

  • The Australian Financial Review recently released their AFR BOSS Best Business Schools rankings for 2023.
  • Within these rankings, the University of Tasmania was ranked 35th of 37 overall, 23rd for reputation, 20th for career impact, and 37th for quality.
    • The TUSA State Council cannot view these rankings as anything other than a major failure for the University.
    • The TUSA State Council calls on the University to address these rankings and provide a roadmap as to how they plan to improve, further suggesting that a genuine implementation of a Students as Partners approch be needed.
    • The TUSA State Council calls into question the expansion of the University into Melbourne and Sydney through third-party managed campuses for international students, with offerings mainly coming from the Tasmanian School of Business, and queries as to the reputational risk that comes with these expansions that have been conducted as a method of revenue raising from international students for the University rather than to expand educational opportunities for students, and a move away from the clear Tasmanian brand that brings so many students to the University in the first instance.

The Voice to Parliament Referendum

  • The Tasmanian University Student Association (TUSA) and the TUSA State Council stands with First Nations people and their perspectives during the upcoming Voice to Parliament 2023 referendum.
  • We at the TUSA believe that any stance we take must be informed by the views of First Nations students and staff at the University of Tasmania, and we are committed to ensuring that the student voice is represented in conversations surrounding the Voice to Parliament proposal. We believe that it is important to take a stance on this topic, to stand in support with First Nations students and staff at the University of Tasmania, and more broadly First Nations community.
  • We would like to acknowledge that within our elected State Council of 2023, we do not have any First Nations people, from Tasmania or interstate represented directly. Our stance has been reviewed by First Nations students, and the staff at our Riawunna centre, but does not take priority above the voices of First Nations people.
  • As a result of these discussions, we are in principle in support of the Voice to Parliament referendum.
  • We recognise that many perspectives on the topic exist within the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. We believe that an authentic consultation and development of First Nations input into governance is needed to appropriately reflect the views of First Nations people and their communities.
  • As an organisation, we encourage both the University of Tasmania student body and the general public to engage in further dialogue with community to gain a better understanding of the impact of the Voice to Parliament referendum.
  • The University of Tasmania has developed resources that present some perspectivs on the topic, available at: Voice to Parliament | University of Tasmania (utas.edu.au).
  • We encourage all of the community to engage in this topic with respect and consideration for First Nations people, and for each other.
  • We will continue to stand in solidarity of our First Nations communities, lutruwita always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.

Newnham Campus Car Break-ins

  • The Tasmanian University Student Association is aware of a series of incidents involving car break ins on the Newnham campus on Monday evening. We understand and empathise with students impacted by these actions and strongly encourage these students to contact Tasmania Police.
  • The TUSA is asking questions of the University and their security provider as to what their response to this will be, how they will be supporting students effected, and what steps they will be taking to reduce the risk of this occurring in future. Students’ safety and security is our primary concern!
  • Additionally, we remind those affected that they can access support through TUS’s Student Advocacy Service and Student Legal Service. TUSA has your back and both our Northern Campus President Ryan Stanaway and President Liam McLaren are fighting to ensure students are supported and that such risks are being appropriately addressed by UTAS into the future.

Drop in Tasmanian Enrolments

  • As reported in The Australian on the 22nd of February, the University of Tasmania has experienced a 12% decline in local enrolments from 2022 to 2023.
  • The TUSA State Council is not surprised by this announcement and believes it can be strongly attributed to an increasingly disappointing student experience over the last decade.
    • This declining student experience is a result of reduced investment in student-led initiatives, decreasing from $2.0669 million in 2013 to $1.022 million in 2022. This represents a funding decrease of 50.55% for student-led experiences over the span of ten years.
    • Students possess a clear understanding of their needs and desires as part of their university journey, and fees like the Student Services and Amenities Fee should primarily be allocated to student-led groups to spend as they see fit.
  • The TUSA State Council firmly believes that in order to enhance the student experience, student funds must be returned to the hands of students!

Tasmanian Housing Crisis

  • The TUSA State Council is a signatory to the Tenants Union of Tasmania Letter to the Premier, Jeremy Rockliff, calling for an Empty Homes Levy to be implemented in Tasmania.
  • The National Consumer Price Index saw a 7.3% increase from September 2021 to September 2022.
  • The Tasmanian Weighted Median Rent Index saw an increase of 8.4% year over year up to December 2022.
    • Yet key student supports such as Youth Allowance have only seen an indexation increase of 6.1%.
  • Out of the UTAS Hobart Accommodation options, two exceed the 2023 Youth Allowance “Typical total rates”, with another two sitting at 92% and 95%, respectively, and the other ranging from 66% to 95% of Youth Allowance.
    • The TUSA State Council believes any method through which rentals for University of Tasmania students and the broader community can be created must be thoroughly investigated.
  • The TUSA State Council has been disappointed by the response to the calls for an Empty Homes Levy by both major parties.
    • We reinforce our calls for the Tasmanian Housing Crisis to be addressed through multiple avenues. All proposed methods of addressing the crisis should be investigated regardless of political views and with an open mind.
  • The TUSA State Council is extremely proud to be the Principal Petitioner on the Empty Homes Levy Parliamentary Petition.
    • As a student representative body, we believe there is power in numbers and a groundswell of support. We hope to show Parliament that there is a real need to re-evaluate current housing policy and legislation.
    • You can read more about this petition, and see the government response, by clicking here.

The Shake Up Community Panel Report

  • The TUSA State Council welcomes the publication of The Shake Up Community Panel Report and largely agrees with the key actions proposed in the report.
    • However, the council finds that the report draws general conclusions and offers vague recommendations that do not provide a clearly defined list for holding the university accountable.
  • Regardless of the circumstances, whether it involves a campus relocation or not, the future of the university must prioritize genuine student engagement and co-design.
    • The TUSA State Council acknowledges that this community consultation report is not legally binding, which leaves room for the university to potentially disregard the recommendations outlined in the report.
  • The TUSA State Council looks into the future with optimism and hope and will be open to working with the university in engaging with students to support a ‘co-designed’ future for the University.

Australian Universities Accord

  • The TUSA State Council welcomes the announcement of  the Australian Universities Accord, recognizing that it is long overdue, being the first of its kind since 2008.
  • The Accords present a valuable opportunity to shape federal policies and have a tangible, positive impact on university students across the nation.
    • However, the TUSA State Council acknowledges that the Terms of Reference of the Accords lack clear definition regarding how the panel will effectively consult and engage with unions and students.
  • The TUSA State Council is committed to collaborating with the Accords to strive for the best possible outcomes for students at the University of Tasmania.

HDR Stipend Increase

  • In late 2022, the University of Tasmania (UTAS) made an announcement stating that HDR (Higher Degree by Research) stipends would increase from $28,500 (the minimum base rate for 2022) to $31,000 in 2023. This decision came after a sustained campaign by HDR students, as well as representatives from the TUSA State Council, following the example set by several other Australian universities.
  • The TUSA State Council welcomes this announcement and sees it as a significant step in the right direction.
    • However, it is important to note that for a single person in the workforce, including housing costs, this amount still falls below the poverty line (which was set at $32,063.72 annually according to a 2022 Poverty Lines: Australia publication). The gap becomes even wider for PhD candidates who have dependents to support.
    • The TUSA State Council will continue to advocate for the university to further increase the stipend amount in 2023. They believe that this is a necessary step for the university to provide a positive student experience and remain competitive with other universities across the country.

Low Completion Rates Legislation Changes

  • Changes made to Commonwealth assistance eligibility legislation (i.e., HECS loans) in 2022 mean that if a student commences a new course of study and is deemed to have a “low completion rate”, they will not be eligible for Commonwealth assistance. The legislation defines ‘low completion rate’ as a fail rate of more than 50 per cent of the units of study attempted, after attempting eight or more units of study in a bachelor level or higher course (or four or more units in a higher education course lower than a bachelor course). In other words, students will be impacted by this legislation after the first year of fulltime study of a bachelor, or half year of a shorter course.
  • The TUSA State Council disagrees with these changes to legislation. This change creates further barriers for already disadvantaged students who access higher education. It disproportionately impacts students of lower socioeconomic status, students who need to work to support themselves or care for others and students of marginalised groups who are otherwise impacted.
    • This change has the potential to place students under enormous financial pressures, which will have significant impacts on other areas of vulnerability for students, such as increased burden of mental illness.

On-Campus Learning Minimum Standards

  • In January 2023, the University of Tasmania made an announcement regarding the introduction of minimum standards for On-Campus units. This decision was influenced by the strong and persistent advocacy from TUSA State Council representatives. As per the changes, every on-campus unit is required to provide a minimum average of two contact hours per week on-campus throughout the semester.
  • The TUSA State Council welcomes this announcement and views it as a move towards finding a balance in the ongoing debate between on-campus and online learning.
  • The TUSA State Council acknowledges that some students who desire a more “traditional” university experience may perceive these standards as insufficient. They will continue to urge the university to fulfill its commitment to providing an “island campus” experience by increasing on-campus learning opportunities and engagement with Country.
    • Simultaneously, the TUSA State Council will advocate for the ongoing development of online units and learning. This ensures that students who require or prefer the added flexibility can access modern and competitive online educational programs.

SSAF Consultation for Students

  • Student Services and Amenities Fees (SSAF) represent student funds, and students should have a significant say in how these funds are allocated.
  • The consultation process in 2022 has been disappointing, with issues related to reporting templates and limited involvement of TUSA despite being a key stakeholder in the use and accessibility of SSAF for students.
  • As the SSAF landscape at UTAS continues to evolve, it is crucial to prioritize student-led initiatives, priorities, and programs in the allocation of SSAF funds.
  • Students deserve a seat at the decision-making table when it comes to determining the final allocation of SSAF, as it is their money that is being utilized.

Newly Appointed TUSA Board Chairperson

  • The TUSA State Council acknowledges the appointment of Mr. Danny Sutton as the new TUSA Board Chairperson, following the approval of this appointment by the University Council and the Chancellor, and welcomes his selection.
    • However, the TUSA State Council maintains the belief that to preserve the integrity and independence of the organization, the choice of chairperson should be solely determined by TUSA and the students of the University of Tasmania.
  • The TUSA State Council holds the view that Mr. Sutton’s background and experience position him well to lead the Board and ensure that TUSA effectively serves the best interests of students, both in the present and the future.

HECS-HELP Indexation Increases

  • In 2022, HECS-HELP loans experienced a significant increase in indexation, reaching 3.9% compared to the previous year’s 0.6%.
  • This escalation has significant financial implications for students who are pursuing their studies. With the rising cost of living and stagnant wage growth, the burden on students’ finances becomes even more substantial.
    • The unique feature of HECS-HELP loans, where no interest is charged, often leads students to overlook their repayment obligations until after graduation.
    • Consequently, students may face the challenge of unexpectedly high debt post-study, which they were not aware of during their time as students.
  • The 3.9% indexation exacerbates the existing barriers to higher education for students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Limited financial resources hinder these students’ ability to freely pursue the degrees they are passionate about, limiting their options to what they can afford.
    • This limitation has far-reaching consequences, impacting diversity within the higher education sector, as well as in various industries and communities.

NTEU Industrial Action at UTAS

  • TUSA fully supports the rights of all UTAS staff to advocate for improved working conditions, recognizing that teaching conditions directly impact the quality of education.
  • According to the NTEU, 50% of UTAS staff are employed on a casual basis.
    • Casual staff play a crucial role in student education, providing marking, tutoring, and support throughout their studies.
    • They often form close professional relationships and friendships with students.
  • Casual staff deserve to be acknowledged as valuable members of the UTAS community and should have access to:
    • Job security.
    • Opportunities for career development.
    • Superannuation support and sick leave.
  • It is important for students and staff to stand together in supporting these rights.
  • The NTEU has postponed their rally, which TUSA was supporting, as the University has made significant progress in the enterprise agreement (EA) negotiations.
  • The TUSA State Council welcomes the university’s announcement of an improved staff agreement following positive negotiations with the NTEU.
    • The new Agreement includes:
      • A 13.5 percent pay increase over four years:
        • 6 percent in July 2022 (already paid).
        • 3 percent in July 2023.
        • 5 percent in July 2024.
        • 4 percent in June 2025.
      • Improved conversion of casual employees and the creation of new ongoing academic jobs.
      • Increased job security through the introduction of the Continuing Contingent Funded (CCF) employment category.
      • Simplified and enhanced leave provisions, including expanded parental leave entitlements.
      • Increased gender affirmation leave to 30 days per annum.

National Student Safety Survey

  • We are incredibly disappointed in the results of the 2021 National Student Safety Survey. Any incident of sexual assault or sexual harassment at UTAS is one too many.
  • There is student representation on the UTAS Student Safety Taskforce, to investigate how we can make UTAS campuses and accommodations safer.
    • The TUSA State Council wants cultural change to be student-led. We are considering campaigns to best address issues of safety on campus.
  • If you have experienced or witnessed sexual assault or harassment and need support, the Safe and Fair Community Unit and UTAS Counseling Services can help.

These messages are updated monthly, after the completion of each State Council meeting.

Close Menu