VSU decision a major setback for uni
By ZOE SATHERLEY
THE long-term viability of Southern Cross University (SCU) is now under threat because of the Federal Government's dumping of compulsory student unionism, student union representatives warned yesterday.
SCU Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Clark also warned the Lismore economy is set to lose $2.5 million annually as both domestic and Australian students are likely to choose campuses able to deliver a better range of services and amenities.
Prof Clark echoed the student union's fears saying he now had 'deep concerns' over being able to maintain student numbers.
"There is no doubt we are facing the erosion of the strength of SCU," he said.
The Federal Government passed laws on Friday banning compulsory student union fees from July 1 next year for domestic students.
Marie Reilly, the Student Representative Council's campaign and representation officer, said the new laws would see drastic cuts to amenities and services and make SCU unattractive to new students.
The single mother said she was one of about 150 people employed at the university, whose wages are paid for by student union fees, who were facing the axe.
Prof Clark said the predicted loss of about 150 jobs would bite the Lismore economy hard, with an annual loss of at least $2.5 million in retail spending.
But it was the potential loss of both Australian and international students that was the long-term worry, he said.
International students ? of which the university has about 600 ? would not be attracted to a university campus that did not provide a full range of services like a dentist, child care, a cafeteria, sporting facilities and a social or multicultural life, he said.
"These students have a global choice," he said.
"With Australian students we are likely to see a shift to metropolitan campuses."
Prof Clark said each Australian student is worth about $10,000 annually to the local economy but international students are worth about $20,000.