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Merger Won't Solve Student Union Problems

The proposed merger of the New Zealand University Students’ Association (NZUSA) and the Aotearoa Tertiary Students’ Association (ATSA), won’t solve the fundamental problems suffered by the two organisations, Prebble’s Rebels president Clint Heine said today.

"The two organisations are unrepresentative, unaccountable and irrelevant to the vast majority of tertiary students," Mr Heine said.

"NZUSA and ATSA are unrepresentative because they claim to speak on behalf of students, yet individual students aren’t members. They’re unaccountable because compulsory membership means students must pay millions to NZUSA and ATSA whether they like it or not, regardless of what the organisations say or how they perform. The organisations are irrelevant - most students don’t even know of their existence. Students are more concerned with issues like quality of teaching than the far-left political barrows pushed by the student politicians who claim to represent students’ interests."

Mr Heine said that the two student organisations are now locked in competition for members and a merger will not please the polytechnic associations.

"For a long time NZUSA has been seen as increasingly radical and political. Three university associations are now members of ATSA (formerly APSU) - the University of Canterbury Student Association (a founding member of NZUSA) recently left because it was worried about the radical stance of NZUSA. Canterbury won’t be thrilled at the prospect of being thrown back in with NZUSA. In addition, ATSA risks being overshadowed by the wealthier university associations and having its issues hijacked by the radicals running NZUSA. The planned merger is actually a survival bid by NZUSA."

"Neither organisation is willing to confront the main problem of student associations. Both organisations are based on compulsory membership – it delivers millions of dollars into association coffers, but makes associations illegitimate."

"Until associations move to voluntary membership and treat students with respect, they will continue to be captured by radicals and be of little relevance to the bulk of students," Mr Heine said.

"It is somewhat ironic that membership of these two organisations is voluntary for student associations," concluded Mr Heine.


For more information, contact:
Clint Heine (+64) (021) 122 8544

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