Review Information

If you've landed here I've asked for your thoughts in a review currently conducted by NZUSA.

I’d value your input into a review that NZUSA is doing of its core business. For healthy organisations to be constantly performing at their peak it’s important that they engage in meaningful self-review processes.


There are only three national student organisations in New Zealand, the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations, Student Job Search and University Sport New Zealand. NZUSA is the unique as the only organisation actively representing and advocating on behalf of students within the tertiary sector. The space students’ associations operate in is constantly changing and it’s important to be mindful of what good practice is and how to achieve it.


Often as students we a limited breadth of experience, we don't know what we don't know. By opening up this discussion and benchmarking ourselves against other other students' associations internationally we will be in a better position to know how we are going relative to the rest of the world. 

Legislation was introduced in 2012 to make all students' associations voluntary in New Zealand, undermining the ability for student unions to be sufficiently resourced. Students engaged in tertiary study are still charged a compulsory fee but now it is collected and distributed by tertiary providers instead of students. This has undermined our fundamental belief that students are best placed to understand and serve the needs of other students. 

Core business

NZUSA was formed in 1929, and has the current “vision of vision of a tertiary education system that is accessible and enables all students to improve their lives and contribute to the social, cultural and economic success of our communities and society.”

This means a tertiary education system which has:

  • High quality learning and teaching practices.
  • Outstanding student experiences and learning environments.
  • Excellent levels of student support.
  • No unfair barriers to education.
  • Equitable access and support for achievement.
  • Students are valued members of an academic community that contributes to the creation and dissemination of knowledge.

The student voice is valued and supported by strong, independent and democratic student organisations.

Key Functions: Representation

  • Studylink National Sector Group.
  • Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards.
  • Relationship with the Ministry of Education.
  • The Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence.
  • Student Allowance Hearing Panels (SAHP).
  • Student Job Search (SJS).
  • University Sport New Zealand.
  • Committee on University Academic Programmes.
  • Academic Quality Agency.
  • New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

Key Functions: Representation

  • Ministers.
  • Members of Parliament.
  • Government Departments and Agencies.
  • Other Sector Groups.
  • Select Committees.
  • CEOs/Vice Chancellors.

Key functions: Campaigns

  • As they develop (i.e. Governance changes, Overseas Based Borrowers repayment)
  • Fee Setting
  • Issues directed by the National Executive (i.e. student voice, quality education, accessible education)

Key functions: Research

  • Working as a well-researched, well-supported and well-resourced political lobby group.
  • NZUSA holds and undertakes a significant amount of student-focused research and expertise.
  • Only NZUSA conducts regular in-depth research into the financial situation and views of students.
  • Longitudinal Income and Expenditure survey.

Key functions: Training and support

  • Conferences and workshops
  • President training
  • Media training
  • Council Representative Training
  • Networking opportunities
  • Campus Tour
  • Support for representative groups
  • Support for equity groups

How does NZUSA do this?

  • NZUSA is all of the member associations, supported by the National Office, doing things in concert.
  • The National Executive sets and monitors a plan, and the local Presidents commit to participating in the activities that need local as well as National Office based action.
  • The local associations, as members, control the organisation through elections, (re)confirming the strategic direction and the annual/operational plan.
  • The National Office consists of the President, the Executive Director, the National Women’s Rights Officer (voluntary), and other project staff when needed.

Te Mana Ākonga (TMA)

  • NZUSA has a Treaty relationship with the national Māori (indigenous) organisation TMA.
  • We work together for free education and a living allowance for all students.
  • TMA delegates have attendance and speaking rights at NZUSA meetings.
  • The Tumuaki is a member of the National Executive.
  • Regular reviews, ability to review as members change.

Review questions

Below are some questions to spark discussion and thought. We want to preserve the national whanaungatanga (kinship and belonging) but are open to all other structures and ideas which can be used to enhance the quality of what NZUSA does.

  • Does NZUSA meet the vision and goal that it’s been created for?
  • Are we ensuring success for tertiary students?
  • How do we know that NZUSA is successful?
  • Have students’ associations, and national representation adopted to voluntary student membership?
  • What does a national student voice look like to you?
  • What kind of services and support should a national organisation be providing directly to students?
  • What kind of services and support should a national student organisation be providing to its member students’ associations?
  • What kind of services and support should a national student organisation be providing to all students’ associations?
  • How do we capture the student voice at tertiary providers that don’t have students’ associations?
  • Are students’ associations the best organisations to be engaging with a national organisation? 
  • What current service or support that NZUSA delivers is most valued at your students’ association?
  • Is a governance model made up of student presidents the best model?
  • Should there be other offices of NZUSA other than the president and the National Womens’ Rights Officer?


NZUSA is committed to ensuring that there is sufficient opportunity to consult with stakeholders and take full consideration of any alternatives raised in a confidential and courteous approach. It is important that stakeholders provide feedback to ensure any issues or concerns are addressed and the optimal structure moving forward is achieved.

You’re invited to email feedback to or call me on +64 21 567 696.

Following the consultation period comments and feedback will be considered by the current members of NZUSA in advance of their AGM later this year. 

The voice of New Zealand's 400,000 students.

The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations exists to advance the political, social and economic interests of tertiary students whatever they study and wherever they live. NZUSA is a membership body of local students' associatons. We believe in opportunity for all.

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