Two Uni Associations Vote To Leave NZUSA In The Past 10 Months

By Justin Hu (he/him)


Only six out of 11 university student associations could be left as part of the national union of student associations if earlier plans to leave proceed at Auckland and Victoria Universities.


The New Zealand Union of Students' Association (NZUSA) has existed in forms since 1929 and more recently has had a rocky path with membership following the introduction of voluntary student membership in 2012.


In March, around 4 percent of Victoria University students ended up voting in a controversial referendum as to whether its student association, VUWSA, should give notice to leave the national body.


Around 29 percent of the 985 voters abstained from deciding with only 36 percent of voters supporting the move and 35 percent opposing.


NZUSA president Andrew Lessells told Salient Magazine that the organisation could see budget cuts if the Wellington student association left.


"I'm obviously disappointed [there has been a referendum called] but I'm also aware that they've had a number of longstanding concerns, we also have concerns and are committed to addressing these as well as reforming NZUSA," he said.


However, VUWSA's constitution requires 5 percent of enrolled students to vote in order to make a referendum result binding, and its president told Salient it could ultimately stay "if our concerns are addressed" during the 12-month notice period.


The potential to leave was criticised by some on-campus groups, including VicLabour who condemned the referendum as "union-busting" on its social media.


Meanwhile, the University of Auckland's student association, AUSA, agreed to give notice for leaving the national body in a vote at its AGM in May 2021. At the time, Craccum Magazine reported the vote was based around a perceived lack of value for money.


Other current members include student associations at Massey University's multiple campuses (they count for four), Lincoln University, and University of Otago. There are also a handful of other polytechnics and tertiary institutions that are also NZUSA members.


Meanwhile, AUT, University of Waikato, and University of Canterbury student associations are not members of NZUSA.