The Western Student Representation story

Early student representation at the Western Sydney University saw each member institution (Macarthur, Nepean and Hawkesbury) represented by its' own Union or Association. They worked autonomously, largely independent from one another, under the supervision of elected Student Representatives. Further associations existed for postgraduate students and some campuses also had a separate Sports and Recreation Association.

In the early 2000s there was a push to create a single student association to ensure consistent service provision across campuses. The Postgraduate Association of the University (PAUWS) was established, followed by the Students' Association  (SAUWS), which represented undergraduate interests.

Before the introduction of Voluntary Student Unionism legislation under the Howard Government in 2005, students at Australian universities were required to pay a compulsory student union fee. Associations received the compulsory student union fees collected by the University. These fees supported provision of:

  • advocacy and representation
  • campus activities and events
  • clubs and societies funding and administration
  • shuttle bus services
  • second hand books
  • services on campus including commercial outlets such as food outlets, bars and hairdressers

In 2004 the Students' Association disbanded and two new organisations emerged for commercial services and undergraduate representation at the university. The Students' Association (UWSSA) took on the non-commercial activities while the University set up a wholly owned, not-for-profit company, with the intention that it would take over the provision of commercial services at all campuses.

In from mid-2006, payment of Student Union fees became voluntary. While some students welcomed the change, many advocates argued that campus services, clubs and events would suffer and detract from the university student experience.

In 2009 the University looked to establish a new student organisation which would be responsible for advocacy and campus activities for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. The undergraduate (UWSSA) and postgraduate (PAUWS) associations merged, creating The Hive Student Union towards the end of 2009. The Hive was also setup as a company with six students elected onto an overarching board of directors. After a short and politically fraught term, The Hive was dissolved.

In 2011, an interim Student Leadership Group (SLG) with student representation from each campus was convened to assist the University with the development of a new student representation and participation model at the University. The result is the current Student Representation and Participation model which launched at the beginning of 2012.  The aim of this new model is to provide equitable and consistent student representation and participation at the University through the Student Campus Councils, responsible for student needs on a campus level, and the Student Representative Council (opens in new window) which will deal with cross-campus issues.