Services & amenities fee

What is SSAF?

On 11 October 2011, the Australian Parliament passed legislation allowing universities and other higher education providers to charge a fee for student services and amenities of a non-academic nature. This fee is known as the student services and amenities fee (SSAF).

The fee may be spent by higher education providers on items such as sporting and recreational activities, employment and career advice, childcare, financial advice and food services.

All student cohorts must pay the SSAF, though in some instances a government funded loan scheme, called SA-HELP, will be available, enabling eligible students to defer payment. Students paying the SA fee up-front must pay by the standard tuition fee payment deadlines.

For the purposes of the services and amenities fee, the academic year is divided into two halves.

  • First half of the year includes summer session, first semester and autumn session.
  • Second half of the year includes winter session, second semester and spring session

How much is SSAF?

The SSAF amount students are required to pay depends on their study load.

  • Full-time is equal to 18 units or greater in a half-year period.
  • Part-time is equal to less than 18 units in a half-year period.

2022 fee

  • $315.00 for full-time students
  • $157.50 for part-time students

Example scenario 1

If Mary enrols in 24 units in first semester 2022 she will be required to pay $157.50. If she then enrols in 24 units in second semester she will be required to pay another $157.50. This totals $315.00 for the year.

Example scenario 2

If Mary enrols in 6 units in summer session 2022 she would be required to pay $78.75 because she is part-time. If she then enrolled in 18 units in first semester 2022 Mary would be required to pay another $78.75 making a total of $157.50 for summer session and semester one combined because she is now full-time.

Example scenario 3

If Mary was to enrol in 6 units in summer session 2022 she would be required to pay $78.75. If she then enrolled in 6 units in first semester 2022 Mary would still be part-time so she wouldn't be required to pay anything further. However, if Mary was to then enrol in autumn session in 6 units she would then be required to pay another $78.75 because she would now be considered to be full-time.

Who is exempt from paying it?

The following student groups are exempt from paying the SSAF:

  • Students enrolled in transnational offshore programs;
  • inbound exchange students;
  • higher degree research students who submit within January for first semester and July for second semester;
  • international higher degree research students who are on an extension of program and are offshore
  • all cross-institutional inbound students;
  • students enrolled the Bachelor of Studies with concurrent full-time enrolment at a secondary school or secondary college;
  • students enrolled in ANU courses through Open Universities Australia (OUA).

Students enrolled in following programs are exempt from paying the SSAF:

2022

  • 3050  Bachelor of Studies
  • 6828  Graduate Diploma in Military and Defence Studies
  • 6829  Graduate Certificate in Military and Defence Studies
  • 7828  Master of Military and Defence Studies (Advanced)
  • 7829  Master of Military and Defence Studies
  • 7835  Master of Environmental Management and Development  - Online

How does the University decide how to allocate SSAF?

As part of a broader consultation process informing the allocation of the SSAF for 2021, Planning and Performance Measurement (PPM) conducted a survey that asked ANU coursework students and higher degree by research (HDR) candidates to indicate how they would like to see a notional $100 allocated across a range of typical SSAF relevant areas.

ANU students and HDR candidates were invited to respond to the survey on Tuesday, 6th of October, 2020, with a reminder sent on the morning of Wednesday, 14th of October, 2020 and the survey closing at 11:59pm that day.

The data gathered from the survey is being used to inform service providers in making decisions about the programs and services to run in 2022.

By late-October 2022, a new survey will be run to inform the key priorities for 2023.

Proposed 2022 Allocations

In 2020 the University looked at the past practices of the SSAF and feedback from service providers on previous processes used over the past five years, as well as processes used by other universities of similar standing, size, or location. What we found was:

  • past allocations of SSAF showed that for the last few years, whichever allocation process is used, the allocation percentage has been roughly the same to each service provider.
  • Significant disruptions to student services and programs supported by SSAF in 2020, including the postponement of some activities to 2021 and how this may be affected by changes to funding.
  • feedback from many service providers described the large amount of work and effort that went in to the bidding process, several identifying that this felt like wasted effort when there was little change to the funding levels.
  • feedback from many service providers was that the bidding process involved negative commentary by other providers on their services or programs which made the process difficult and more onerous.

The 2022 allocation

The process in 2022 is stepped out below with current estimated timeframes.

Using the allocations of past years, and given the uncertainty of 2021 and potential for rapid adjustment needed in 2022 a budget allocation model has been proposed. This allocates the SSAF as a percentage to each service provider to then determine their own budget from the allocation. This allows services to have funding certainty of the amount they will receive, to adjust their own budgets across programs and services they deliver to be able to quickly meet changing student needs, and be accountable and transparent with the whole student body on how the SSAF has been used at ANU.

Service providers to receive funding

2022 Allocation

2021 Allocation

2022 Percentage( %)

ANUSA

$1,760,000

$1,642,550

32%

PARSA

$1,560,000

$1,454,830

28%

ANU Sport and Recreation

$910,000

$844,740

16%

Student services teams

$421,508.50

$469,300

8%

Woroni Media

$150,000

$140,790

3%

ANU Observer

$55,000

$46,930

1%

Research Training (Dean HDR)

Incorporated into student services teams

$46,930

-

Reserves

643,491.50

 

12%

TOTAL

5,500,000

$4,646,070

100%

In October 2021, each service provider received a letter advising of the funding amount (based on the estimated SSAF funds available for 2022 and the percentages outlined in the table). The service providers also received the data and analysis from the student survey to assist with priorities of the student body. The service providers developed their operating budgets, including details of programs and services they will be offering.

In 2022 the estimated SSAF funds will be allocated based on the percentages. If the amount collected is less than the estimate every effort will be made for the University to cover the difference. If the fees collected exceeds the estimate this will be allocated to the reserves fund to cover any potential shortages in the future.

By late-October 2022, a SSAF survey will be conducted with the student body to consult on key priorities for 2023.

Have a question/comment about SSAF?

Please email student.services.council@anu.edu.au

FAQs about the SSAF

Why is SSAF allocated to different service providers?

The SSAF is paid by nearly all students and each have their own views and needs. Some may use a lot of services and support one year and less the next - by combining the SSAF and allocating out to a group of service providers we are able to offer many services to meet needs, and offer them by different groups each speaking to different student cohorts or groups, and to different priorities/interests throughout their time at ANU.

Why doesn't the survey just let me give my money to a program?

There are well over 100 programs, clubs, functions, events, and services funded by your SSAF. The benefit of the SSAF funding model is to use the contributions of many to fund as many programs as possible to support different students who have different needs.

Many of SSAF funded services and programs are 'silent' - you don't realise they are there until you need them. The SSAF model allows funding to areas which cannot be funded through centralised funding due to legislation or education guidelines (such as food, legal advice, media outlets).

Will the survey be published?

Once the data gathered from the 2022 survey has been compiled it will be published through this webpage. If the response rate is too low and it could be reasonable to identify a student or small group of students from the survey, we will choose to not publish the data and advise of this outcome on the website.

How do service providers develop their budgets?

The Budgets will need to:

  • Be developed in line with the legislation and guidelines for the use of SSAF (https://www.education.gov.au/student-services-and-amenities-fee).
  • Demonstrate the programs and services which will be available to students, as well as estimates of the number of students or contacts for each service/program (adjusted based on the type of service/program being offered).
  • Demonstrate how the Budget has been informed by the student feedback received through the survey. Organisations are encouraged to provide details of how their own data (e.g. surveys, feedback on programs) has informed their budget development.
  • Be provided to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, for review within 30 days of the advice of budget allocation to inform the preparation of a contract or unit performance agreement.
  • Throughout the year service providers will report performance against their budget on a quarterly basis, advising of any shifts in programs or services.

This process has been adopted because it reduces the administrative and drafting burden of a bidding process, allowing organisations to develop a budget to their priorities for the year. The University requires oversight of the final budget to meet contractual obligations and its oversight obligations on the use of SSAF. 

How much SSAF is available in 2022?

The amount of SSAF available is unknown until students pay the SSAF each semester. Instead, the University models student numbers to estimate the amount of SSAF likely to be available and this becomes the allocation amount.

If the fees collected in 2021 is less than what the University has estimated, we will again do all we can to cover the difference so that service providers have funding certainty.

What has SSAF funds been spent on this year?

Some examples of what SSAF funds were spent on for 2022 so far are:

  • ANU Careers launched a career voyage online tool to help student who struggle to verbalise their career ideas, over 50 students have used this tool already.
  • Scholarly Information Services have a writing centre to assist with academic writing, referencing, interpreting assignment questions, reading strategies, time management, note-taking, exam preparation and presentation skills.
  • ANU Student Association (ANUSA) has provided over 500 various financial grants including emergency grants, grocery vouchers and emergency accommodation.
  • Woroni released two editions.
  • The Observer released multiple articles online. 
  • ANU Sports ran 10 ANU Sport programs hosted across the year which are subsidised or free of charge (on campus and interstate).
  • The Engagement and Success Team successful delivery the ACT Youth Week Grant "Cooking and Conversations," 80 students participated, and the events garnered attention from media and radio locally.
  • Postgraduate and Research Student Association (PARSA) assisted 232 students (across mental health, academic, migration, legal, accommodation and financial assistance).

Why can't the University give the same amount each year for SSAF?

The SSAF is a fee-based system, where the money collected is the money available for allocation. As student numbers rise and fall, so does the amount of SSAF available. As the University makes the estimate of student numbers, we feel it is our obligation to provide an amount of funding to meet the estimate, and have diverted funding from other student services and programs to pay for the SSAF difference in the past. 

The benefit of the percentage allocation model is that budgets can be developed by service providers that are scalable - they know the percentage they will receive of the estimate, and the University will do everything it can to provide that amount.

Why does student money go to university services?

The SSAF is intended to fund a variety of student programs and services that would not normally be funded through a university's operating costs. At ANU a very small portion of the funding (about 10% annually) is used to fund programs run by ANU services, reducing the administrative and operational costs to run services and programs and capitalising on the expertise and experience of ANU staff.

A difference in the system is an ANU service provider is responsible to the organisation to deliver outcomes for the funding they have been provided, which forms part of the unit and individual performance agreements. These will be informed by the Budget the services jointly outline.

External service providers (ANUSA, PARSA, ANU Sport, Woroni, ANU Observer) sign a contract with the University to provide services in exchange for the funding. The Budget provided by these service providers will form the performance measure for the contract (i.e. to deliver these services/programs outlined).

In 2022 the ANU services will provide the same budget detail as required from all service providers, though note that this will appear differently as administrative costs and most staffing is covered within the operational costs of the ANU service.

Who governs the administration of SSAF?

In 2022 a Student Services Council (SSC) was established to improve the administration and decision-making that reflects the student body interest. The SSC plays an advisory role on all matters pertaining to the SSAF, its allocation and use across different services provided to the ANU Students; and it plays a key role in managing SSAF reporting and acquittals. The SSC recommends expenditure to both the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student and University Experience).