The vast majority of grants provided to clubs at UTS are set to be scrapped in 2023, with university management handing down a drastically reduced budget to student life organisation, ActivateUTS. The financial constraints also mean that no new clubs will be approved by the organisation at this stage.
In an email sent to club executives, the ActivateUTS board specified that they were not permitted to operate at a financial loss in 2023, and that UTS management had subsequently guaranteed them a budget minimum of $4.5 million. Comparatively, in 2020, UTS directed $4.8 million of its Student Services and Amenities Fee revenue towards ActivateUTS. This was supplemented with $771,555, bringing their total spending on eligible services to $5.6 million.
If confirmed by management, the funding reduction will force ActivateUTS to adhere to a new Corporate Plan in which the Merchandise, Capital, Camp, Marketing, Conference, Competition, StartUp, Transport, Milestone, and Joint Event Grants will not be returning in 2023. Under the plan, only four grants – the Events Grant, Projects Grant, Catering Grant, and O’Day Grant – will be available for application in 2023. Social Programs Manager, Matthew Haywood, however, specified in the email that these grants would not be as accessible as before.
“It’s very important to loop the club team in with any intention to apply for grants as the criteria of grants has tightened to align with the 2023 budget,” Haywood wrote.
“Additionally, the reduced budget could increase the likelihood that we reach our allocated budget limits, meaning that throughout the year we may stop financial support altogether.”
ActivateUTS has provided its corporate plan to the Vice Chancellor, asking to increase the funding baseline by approximately $960,000, which would significantly boost engagement and allow a more strategic move forward for these clubs.
In addition to the scrapped club grants, executive social events, which have historically been used to strategise clubs’ timelines for the year, will be reduced. There is no budget allocated to executive development initiatives in 2023.
At the end of the email, Haywood mentioned that the strength of ActivateUTS clubs was never dependent on the financial support offered, but rather on the quality of the club and executives in UTS.
“I have complete confidence in the support that my team offers clubs and it’s more important than ever that clubs and the clubs teams work together in 2023,” he said.
The ActivateUTS board have stated that they are confident the new Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Education and Students, Kylie Readman, will prioritise examining the organisation’s budget. Readman assumed the role in late November, after the resignation of Deputy Vice-Chancellor Shirley Alexander earlier this year.