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Compulsory WSU loss up 1060%, assets down 59%

Compulsory WSU loss up 1060%, assets down 59%

The latest accounts for the compulsory Waikato Students Union (WSU) show the association posted a loss of $243,127 in 2003, up 1060% on the previous year, and net assets fell 59%, Student Choice revealed today.

Student Choice spokesman Glenn Peoples said the latest available WSU accounts (2003) show the loss was from total income of $549,333, and compares to a loss of $21,484 in 2002. The 2003 accounts were approved at a general meeting in October 2004.

In 2003 $497,529 (91%) of WSU's total income was derived from compulsory membership fees. Each University of Waikato students must pay a fee to WSU before they can enrol.

Although WSU's total income in 2003 was almost exactly the same as 2002, the loss was primarily caused by an increase in expenses - up to $792,000 from $580,000: levies and grants increased 28%; administration expenses were up 52%; and other expenses increased 35%.

WSU's 2003 statement of financial position shows the association's net assets decreased 59%, down from $412,644 to $169,517. In asset movements: bank and cash fell from $39,768 to $50; term deposits fell from $61,338 to $10,404; and accounts receivable fell from $106,500 to $30,802. In liabilities: WSU's bank overdraft increased from zero to $36,532; and accounts payable increased from $31,400 to $85,897.

Peoples said WSU is obviously in a poor financial position, however compulsory membership allows the association to increase its charges to students at will. WSU recently increased its fulltime compulsory fee for 2005 by 50%.

Peoples said compulsory membership gave student politicians a bottomless money pit. "Student politicians are free to mismanage students' money and then hike fees to cover losses. Compulsory student association membership was made possible by legislation introduced by Steve Maharey and is still defended by the Labour government," he said.

Peoples said that as the University of Waikato collects the WSU levy and regards the association as the legitimate voice of all students, the Council must make WSU explain both its disastrous financial position and its recent exorbitant fee increase.

Student Choice upholds voluntary membership of student associations on the grounds of freedom of association.

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