BREAKING: Free Union Membership for All Students in 2019
By Pulp Editors
The University of Sydney Union is kicking the new year off with a bang by providing free union membership for all students in 2019, supported and funded in part by the University. The move is the result of a negotiation process that has spanned several years, and has been partially enabled by the financial success of the USU’s food and retail outlets. The University is understood to be contributing a figure close to $1 million to the initiative, which is slightly less than the funds collected from access fees in years past, but still a sizeable chunk of cash.
Union membership will entitle students to sign up for clubs and societies, sit on committees, apply for student leadership positions, as well as apply for grants and participate in USU programs and services. It will also allow them to run in the annual USU board elections. Though students may still have to pay a sign up fee for some clubs and societies, free union membership will be removing a significant financial barrier for those who couldn’t afford access in years past. USU President Liliana Tai indicated that economic inaccessibility was a priority for the organisation, saying that:
“Since voluntary student unionism was legislated, it has always been a goal for the USU to return to a world where universal student membership is possible. Over the past decade, we have struggled to reach this goal with the need of a pricing barrier to ensure the sustainability of our organisation. However, this locked out many students from low SES backgrounds and culturally diverse backgrounds from participating in the core of student life at the University of Sydney. For the first time ever, in 2019 we will be offering free membership to all students in order to join our Clubs and Societies program as we evolve the USU's legacy from the oldest student union to one that can also offer the best opportunities and experiences to all students.”
Access discounts are sadly not included, but you’ll be able to opt in to a discount program for the sweet reduced price of $45 annually. The discount itself will also be reduced, from 15% to the pre VSU figure of 10%. Commencing students will likely be able to sign up for membership by opting in during enrolment, and existing members and students at the University of Sydney will be able to sign up before the start of semester one.