SSAF Strategic Framework

Purpose & Scope

The Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) Strategic Framework provides a cohesive approach to the implementation and management of SSAF funded initiatives at the University of New England.

In October 2011, legislation was passed to enable Australian universities to charge a fee for services and amenities of a non-academic nature. The fee makes possible a range of services and amenities that are crucial to sustaining and enhancing the quality of student life at university, including: sporting and recreational activities, employment and career advice, student media, health and welfare support, study skills, child care, financial advice and food services.

Management of the fee is overseen by a committee comprised of students and staff of the university. The committee serves to ensure the use of the fee is in accordance with relevant legislation and rules, alignment with funding priorities, while providing a vehicle for consultation with democratically elected student representatives.

Mission

UNE is a regionally based, globally networked university that is renowned for the quality of its student experience, the excellence of its research, its commitment to innovation and inclusivity and its responsiveness to the aspirations of our students, staff, partners, and the New England community.

Objective

To augment the achievement of UNE’s vision and mission through the effective and responsive prioritisation and monitoring of the SSAF, thereby ensuring services and amenities deliver maximum benefit for students.

Priorities

  • Building a robust and resilient elected student representation and engagement
  • Phased development of longer term strategic initiatives that align with future-proofing UNE’s vision: Learning without Limits
  • Investment with immediate benefits/ shorter term projects
  • Clubs and societies capacity building / otherwise open to bidding process.
  • Student survey guidance

Program Management Aims

Enhanced Student Consultation and Eengagement

Continuous improvement and best practice consultation and engagement with the university’s diverse student body, to ensure fund allocations are responsive and appropriate.

Benefits Realisation

Project planning and effective management will ensure a strong alignment between project outcomes, priorities and objectives. Project managers will incorporate benefits realisation into planning and execution of services or facilities to maximise outcomes for students, identify, measure and communicate project impacts, and review best practice.

Strategic Program Management

The implementation of projects will be guided by a suite of tools and support materials, monitoring and controls, templates, allocation modelling, supported by an overarching strategic framework. Project and program management support will lead to a sustainable project management maturity model.

SSAF Project Management Framework

Initiation

The identification of services and amenities are informed by ongoing student consultation, feedback, corporate intelligence, data and the SSAF Committee. Proposals / business cases are developed and submitted to the committee for evaluation against alternatives, funding rules, priorities, guidelines, and value for money. Once endorsed by the committee, all SSAF initiatives require approval by a member of the University Executive and are published online for further student comment.

Planning

SSAF funded activity must be accompanied by a minimum standard of project planning. Plans are a blueprint to determine the what, when, how, who and total cost of project delivery. Plans are used to determine if the project will continue, and must be sufficiently detailed to guide future activities, including execution, monitoring and control, and completion. Plans should include: objectives, scope, benefits, schedule, costs, quality, resources, procurement, stakeholders, communications and risks.

Execution

SSAF funded services and amenities must be effectively tracked, monitored and reported against objectives defined in the project plan. Written or verbal presentations and reports are to be made available to the SSAF Committee at intervals agreed during the planning phase, with a sufficient level of detail to enable the committee to decide if the initiative will continue. Reporting must align with the overarching SSAF priorities, funding categories and enable the committee to measure benefits and success. Reporting milestones should be specified in the project plan.

Monitoring and control

SSAF funded services and amenities must be effectively tracked, monitored and reported against objectives defined in the project plan. Written or verbal presentations and reports are to be made available to the SSAF Committee at intervals
agreed during the planning phase, with a sufficient level of detail to enable the committee to decide if the initiative will continue. Reporting must align with the overarching SSAF priorities, funding categories and enable the committee to measure benefits and success. Reporting milestones should be
specified in the project plan.

Completion

The project completion / close process is initiated when the desired objectives have been achieved. At this stage project managers should provide a closure report to summarise the delivery of the service or amenity and ensure the desired benefits continue to be realised after the completion of the project. The close report is a reflection of the project's objectives, lessons learned and (if necessary) a benefits realisation strategy.

Consultation & Engagement

UNE enjoys a unique and rich diversity across its total student profile. In its management of the SSAF, UNE will engage in genuine, meaningful and collaborative consultation with its diverse student body to support the effective implementation of the SSAF. Formal consultation will be undertaken with democratically elected students to consider the specific uses and priorities for the allocation of student services and amenities fees, also including:

  • publishing identified priorities and individual projects for proposed fee expenditure and allowing a reasonable opportunity for students and student associations or organisations to comment on those priorities or projects, and
  • regularly meeting with democratically elected student representatives, particularly through the governing SSAF Committee to consider and provide input to the priorities and specific uses of fee revenue.

Consultation will be undertake through all reasonable avenues, at a minimum including an annual survey, publication of consultation timelines and fee structures, funding priorities, engagement with UNESA, avenues for informal feedback, comprehensive online information, the SSAF Committee, publication of an annual report, detailed fact sheets and promotion of a competitive market for new ideas.

SSAF Committee

The SSAF Committee delivers expertise in the management of the fee and a vehicle for consultation with students and student representative bodies. The Committee plays a pivotal role in managing the student consultation and fund allocation process and is made up of a balanced membership of student representatives, UNESA and university staff that provide expertise in specific areas, including facilities management, student administration and services, operations and residential systems. The Committee is chaired by a member of the University Executive and is supported by a project manager. The purpose of the SSAF Committee is to:

  • Oversee student consultation and related activities in line with the requirements of the Student Services, Amenities, Representation and Advocacy Guidelines.
  • Serve as a forum for the University to meet with democratically elected student representatives to consider priorities for the use of Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) revenue.
  • Provide the Vice-Chancellor with recommendations for the distribution of SSAF revenue.
  • Monitor the use of SSAF revenue against proposed priorities.

Governance

The SSAF committee oversees compliance with legislative requirements and the coordination of a genuine, meaningful and collaborative consultation with the student body. Allocations are made in consideration of the SSAF strategic framework and funding priorities, with all proposals published on the UNE website and adhering to the expenditure categories and funding provisions. Standardised financial controls are used, consistent with the broader financial management and accountability standards across the University. Governance training is provided on a regular basis to support and enhance the operation of UNESA, and student clubs and societies. The SSAF committee convenes at least six times per annum, with several other meetings occurring to support the efficient and effective delivery of services and amenities. Decision making by the committee is underpinned by this strategic framework, 19 allowable expenditure categories, student consultation feedback, UNE Strategic Plan, benchmarking with other Australian universities, expert advice provided by the SSAF committee and appropriate delegate approval, in most cases the UNE Vice-Chancellor/CEO.

Key Performance Indicators

  • Overall satisfaction and awareness of the SSAF, captured through surveys and student feedback
  • Internal financial controls, management accounting, efficiency and effectiveness
  • Project management planning, deliverables and outcomes for individual projects and the SSAF portfolio
  • Fund allocation and expenditure alignment with strategic goals and allowable funding categories
  • Delivery of governance training and development activities for UNESA, and student clubs and societies
  • Volume and content of student queries, comments or grievances through student administration
  • Delivery of enhanced on-campus facilities and completion of capital works within scope, budget and timeframes
  • Best practice student consultation practices recommended by the national union of students or UNESA
  • Adherence to student representation and advocacy national protocols and minimum standards
  • Adoption of standardised project management methodologies
  • Adherence to the SSAF Committee terms of reference, appropriate record keeping and administrative controls.

Click here for a printable PDF version: SSAF Strategic Framework.