The ANU has announced that it will not fund PARSA in 2023. This decision comes after two years of governance and financial issues within the Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association.
Traditionally, PARSA receives a large portion of the Students Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) pool collected at the beginning of the year. The ANU has control over how SSAF is distributed, with both ANUSA and PARSA having to advocate to receive funding.
While both organisations usually do not receive all of the funding they would like, they usually receive some amount of SSAF. This will mark the first time the ANU has denied a student union access to SSAF.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor, in an email sent to students, cited “…a lack of stability with the absence of a President.” and “…unsatisfactory management of governance.” She also claimed that “…PARSA has failed to meet its obligations as an association.”
Last year, PARSA was run under the close watch of the ANU. And this year, PARSA amended its constitution to create an advisory group with an ANU staff member on it. At the time, continued funding was made conditional on reform to PARSA’s governance structure.
Now, the ANU has deemed the reforms made to be insufficient. The Deputy Vice Chancellor says that similar support services will still be provided to postgraduates. Moreover, this decision apparently won’t change the amount of money allocated to services for postgraduates. But, it is unclear if any organisation will replace PARSA as the primary advocate for postgraduate students.
In a statement to Woroni, an ANU spokesperson said that “ANU continues to support student associations and acknowledges how important they are for our students.” A postgraduate student will continue to sit on the ANU Council, where they hold one vote.
In normal years, PARSA would have a limited amount of reserves to operate on. However, the state of its current reserves are unclear following financial decisions by the former Board. These reserves would still be unlikely to cover a full year of operations for PARSA. ANU does not allow roll-over of SSAF from one year to the next, meaning it must be spent in that year. Hence, PARSA will be significantly challenged to continue operating in 2023.
Earlier this year, the idea of a merger between PARSA and ANUSA was floated. While PARSA rejected the idea, a lack of funding could force them to reconsider.
This is a developing story, Woroni will continue to provide updates.
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