Union review calls for closure
A review commissioned by the Tasmania University Union (TUU) has recommended it shut itself down.
The TUU commissioned a $120,000 review into its own operations last year which has found the union is “increasingly irrelevant”, has problems communicating with students and a “complex and cumbersome” organisational structure.
The report found that continuing the operation is “not an option”.
“The overall picture that emerged from the review is that the TUU is increasingly becoming irrelevant to students and the university as a whole,” the authors said.
They found the union had failed to respond to increasing numbers of mature-age and off-campus students.
“Changes in the demographics of the UTAS [University of Tasmania] student body fundamentally impact the role of the TUU,” the report said.
The review was undertaken by researchers at the LH Martin Institute of Tertiary Education, Leadership and Management at the University of Melbourne.
The analysts consulted with student representatives, TUU staff, university staff and students at the Hobart, Launceston, Burnie and Sydney campuses.
“The relevance of the TUU was brought into question by mostly everyone,” the authors said.
The TUU's communication with students was found to be “flawed” and “ineffective”, in part due to the union's organisational structure.
“The TUU has a complex and cumbersome organisational structure,” the review found, adding “there are too many structural layers and too many positions/roles within each”.
The report also described the TUU's election process as “too much of a popularity contest with candidates not sufficiently appreciating the demands of the office they are standing for”.
The “vast majority of students do not vote in the elections of student representatives, bringing into question the legitimacy and mandate of these representatives”, and there was a “a strong perception that those who do run for office run on ‘political party tickets’, aligned with external political interests of one persuasion or another, rather than on election platforms of direct relevance to student intellectual, welfare, cultural and engagement issues”.
The report gives two options for the future: dissolve the TUU, or reform the union “with a clear mission and explicit accountabilities”.
The union responded saying it is “focusing on consideration of the recommendations and the appropriate response”.
“It is recognised that this phase should include wide consultation with the student body of UTAS, and research into other effective models adopted by university student organisations worldwide,” it said.
“State Council would therefore appreciate any relevant feedback or comments from students.”