JCRC funding 1% of other universities

York JCRCs receive 1% of the amount of funding given to student committees at other universities, according to figures obtained by Vanbrugh Chair Matt Oliver.

Colleges receive £1 per fresher and £1.50 per kitchen from the Student Union out of the annual block grant given by the University. This compares to the £100 per student received by halls committees, the equivalent of JCRCs, at Birmingham University. Oliver claims that York is the only collegiate University in which colleges are dependent on the student union for their funding, as opposed to receiving it directly from the University, and that the current system is “completely broken”.

In researching the spending given to halls committees and equivalents Oliver found that Southampton committees received £1,000 plus £15-20 per student. Durham colleges received £15 per student.

Oliver said: “It seems to me that the SU likes to control the amount of funding we get. No other collegiate University relies on their Unions for all of their funding.”

“I think that the sum is quite simply not good enough for a University of York’s standings. JCRCs have a huge impact on the student life and in order for us to provide the best possible experience we need to have greater resources made available to us,” he added.

YUSU Societies and Communications Officer Sam Bayley defended the spending ratio, saying “I’d love to be able to make it more but ultimately everybody wants more money. The JCRs and other areas of the union spend their money very prudently and I think that our bid system is set up so that college systems can come to us when they need it.”

Oliver has supplied the figures to Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Students, Jane Grenville. Grenville would not comment on YUSU’s spending ratios but is understood to have immediately reported the findings to the powerful Student Support Committee for consideration.

Oliver added he was “disappointed” that JCRCs were not included in the recent YUSU governance report. He said: “I think that they have discounted a large number of students who put in an incredible amount of effort and the ultimately the student union exists to serve its students which it doesn’t do effectively at the moment.”

18 comments

  1. First of all, Oliver’s comparisons are way off the mark. Durham is actually a proper collegiate university, so of course more of their funding is allocated that way!

    The idea that the JCRCs aren’t involved in the governance review is also ridiculous. They may not have been mentioned in the report… but that’s because it was about YUSU, NOT JCRCs!

    The fact is that all college JCRCs now have direct input into the new constitution etc, and NOW is the right time for them to have their input.

    Finally why are individuals moaning about it before decisions have been made?! Surely they’d be better off suggesting policy alternatives, getting people on side and arguing their case rather than simply criticising?!

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  2. If Mr Oliver thinks that the SU are holding out on JCRCs and trying to control their funding, I’d be interested to know where he thinks they’re putting the funds instead. Has he looked at union budget (a public document) and found where he wants the money to be redirected from? I didn’t think so.

    The attempt to compare YUSU funding to that of other universities round the country is borderline ridiculous as YUSU is a welfare based union, and has relatively few sources of income compared to other SU’s with bars and major influences on campus commercial services. They’re incomparable.

    YUSU is an underfunded union, societies, the AU, JCRCs and all other affiliates suffer from a lack of funding. They should be working together to press the university for better funding, not engaging in pathetic political point-scoring.

    There are other JCRCs which have a much lower incomes due to a lack of events/common room equipment to generate revenue, so if Vanburgh are experiencing more severe financial difficulties than others, it is more likely due to poor management. Is this outburst merely a ‘cry for help?’

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  3. Two comments:

    1. While I think our underfunding as JCRs needs to be balanced by the fact that we get some money through the College, I agree with Matt (Oliver) that the current system is at odds with the collegiate system. It would be helpful if we could receive at least a majority of our funding directly from the University, and wouldn’t have to apply directly to the SU for it.

    2. The Governance Review – I think the claim that Matt and others have tried to make is that it is strange to pay a whole lot of money for a consultant to analyse the structure of an organisation, who then proceeds to analyse only part of that structure, JCRs being (whether Matt Oliver and I like it or not) a de facto part of the YUSU structure. I think this is a claim that belongs in the discussion, and shouldn’t be brushed aside. It is important that JCR Chairs are a check on the power of the most influential student organisation on campus (YUSU), and asking questions like this is one way to do so. YUSU Officers getting defensive about it isn’t exactly constructive

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  4. Hi,

    This article and the facts given by Matt Oliver are really misleading.

    The comparisons drawn to other institutions as Matt has pointed out are simply not correct to our situation here in York.

    JCRCs receive much more funding than is pointed out in this article. There are several standardised amounts that are given to each JCRC too:
    £100 from the SSHH campaign
    £200 for RAG
    £50 for Student Action and First Aid training for 6 people.

    Then, the JCRCs can ‘bid’ for additional items out of the ‘total pot of money’, which then takes into account the own funds income.

    That includes:
    Event income
    Pool table income
    Vending income
    and other areas that profit may be made, e.g. merchandise.

    And don’t forget all the central services that YUSU provides that not only support the JCRCs, but society, sports and other affiliate activity on campus that does cost a lot of money:

    Health and Safety
    Events support
    Finance office (big operation!)
    Academic and Welfare service
    Marketing advice
    and much much more.

    If the University were to give money directly, what would it be spent on? It would still be subject to Ultra-vires law and I know from when I was a JCRC Chair that actually, there’s really not that much to spend money on and in fact, if the Provost supports you in new furniture and resources and if you properly budget and market events, they can be successful and generate a lot of money for the other JCRC activities.

    When Sam, Anne-Marie and myself left our college chair (or President of HCSA) positions two years ago, we left behind a surplus each in excess of £5,000 from the years activities.

    It’s really dissapointing Matt didn’t take the time to speak to me if he had issues about JCRC funding, considering my post as Treasurer of the Union and chair of Finance Committee, in addition to being a previous chair of a JCRC. If the Vanbrugh JCRC has money issues I am more than happy to provide guidance and assistance where possible and I do recall recommending changes to positioning of games machines in Vanbrugh and the sourcing of new machines in order to maximise potential and support the JCRC more.

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  5. Missed out of standardised amount:
    £750 towards College sport per JCRC.

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  6. Matt Burton,

    The sports subsidy was £150 per JCR. But that’s a minor detail.

    If the University/College gave block grants directly to JCRs, they would be spent on exactly the same things as they are currently spent on, for example welfare campaigns and buying CD Decks. Grants would still be subject to ultra vires law, but not to YUSU regulations like ‘you must print this in Your:Print’. There are several benefits to ‘banking’ with YUSU, and the money taking the ‘detour’ via the YUSU Finance Office, including all the listed services and the expertise of SU Staff.

    I certainly am not calling for a radical revision of the current system, but I think it’s healthy to discuss hypothetical implications of at least a gradual change, and I think this discussion should be had publicly, so that as many students as possible can take part in it. Without this ‘provocative’ article, the discussion would never have existed.

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  7. Erik,

    The £750 figure (per year, per JCRC) is correct. In fact, it increased by £150 this year from the previous £600/jcrc/year allocation.

    The discussion could have happened – that’s why meetings are open. I could have been contacted and it could have come to Finance Committee?

    Money doesn’t just take a detour via the YUSU Finance Office – there are massive security benefits and safeguarding of JCRC funds and preventing the misuse – which *has* happened in the past, and a reason why no one holds an external bank account any longer.

    We also have independant auditors who check all of the accounts.

    Matt

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  8. By the way,

    The Students’ Union receives much less than £100 per full time student here at York. Perhaps if we joined forces and lobbied for more money then we’d have more to give?

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  9. if all of what Matt Burton is saying is true, then I’d be very interested to know where Matt Oliver got his figures from.

    Also, Burton hasn’t actually proved Oliver’s figures incorrect either.

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  10. The organisational audit was correct in not including JCR Chairs for three reasons:
    1) It was primarily a review of the internal workings of YUSU – spread of workload amongst sabbs, role of union staff in supporting sabbaticals, IT infrastructure, use of office space, etc. All these issues really are the concern of those who work full time for YUSU – as a non-sabb officer I do not feel concerned that my only chance to feed in was a one hour discussion group.

    2) The review was carried out by an experienced professional who has worked with YUSU in the past. Under the budget the auditor was given, she did not think it necessary to consult JCR Chairs. Even if the budget had been larger, there is no guarantee that she would have done so anyway. I know this is a union run by students but that doesn’t mean external professionals are always wrong.

    3) The document produced is not the end of the discussion but the start. The review gives a series of recommendations and none of these will be implemented without proper consultation. JCR Chairs, as they have been told, are to be integral to the wider review of YUSU which is now going on.

    With regards to the JCR funding, I think success is far more likely (achieving more ££ from the Uni) if JCRs work together with YUSU and not against it.

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  11. my apologies, matt – the sports subsidy is £750.

    This is a good discussion. To be continued, I expect. :)

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  12. I think the emphasis has been shifted slightly from what we were originally trying to point out.

    We are not attacking the union, but a public body such as YUSU must be accountable to the students and so must face criticisms like this and rather than being defensive and being 100% convinced that their way is the right way, considering (as they sometimes do) the fact that they could be wrong.

    Our main point is that JCRCs do not get enough money and the money that we do get is too tightly controlled. The union has no reason to receive the funding which should then be passed onto us. If the money is meant for us then why have a middle-man? Surely it should take the most direct path?!

    The system in place contradicts our independence as we are, to an extent, financially reliant on YUSU. This clearly has it’s benefits, such as the support, guidance and protection provided by the union but in my opinion we put in much more than we get out.

    A system where the University as a whole truly respected the JCRCs as an autonomous body, and one that is not in a power struggle with YUSU. The University should also realise that YUSU do not represent us as JCRCs, so we need more representation on committees. The whole discussion really opens a huge can of worms, but one that we are all keen to get laid out straight as a top priority.

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  13. 4 May ’08 at 2:58 pm

    Tom Langrish

    Joe, I have issue with a few of your points but we have talked about most them before. The one point that I think (notice the word think, which implies I am not 100% sure) you are mistaken on is:

    ‘The University should also realise that YUSU do not represent us as JCRCs, so we need more representation on committees’

    First of all any Union officer would have to miss every single meeting of Senate or never read the campus press to believe that YUSU represents the JCRCs (as organisations). Secondly, I think the University is more than aware that YUSU and JCRs often have differing opinions – why would people like Jane Grenville or Brian Cantor bother going to colleges if this was the case?

    YUSU represents all students (but only undergrads on certain issues). YUSU has policy and officers elected by a cross-campus vote, open to all students. When the University wants a student rep representing the generality of students (Teaching Committee, Senate, etc) why shouldn’t YUSU be the voice? As a JCR welfare officer, I don’t feel that I should sit on every University ‘welfare’ committee that the YUSU AcWelf officer does. YUSU has many committees where college reps can feed in to the policy and decisions of union officers, so when a YUSU officer sits as the lone student voice on a University committee, their opinions are often informed by college reps.

    As far as I am aware, when the University wants the opinion of the College JCRs (as organisations, not a sub-division of the student population) they have representation on the relevant committees (Student services sub-committee, College working group for Hes East, etc).

    If you can find me committees where the opinion of the JCRs (as organisations) is needed independently of the campus-wide representation of YUSU, I will gladly support you. Tom – p.s. ‘Bingo Bongo’

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  14. Unsurprisingly, i agree with some of Matt Burton’s points, but obviously not all of them. The most significant point that was left out of the above article is that we are 58th in the latest League Table regarding the amount of money invested on Student Facilities by the University, that’s two places below York St. Johns and some forty behind our rivals at Lancaster. If that factor is taken out of the league tables we rise into the top ten.

    If my comparisons are off the mark who should we compare ourselves to? York is a collegiate university, like Durham, but i agree the system isn’t quite the same. So then I looked at a halls system like Birmingham and we still don’t compare very well.

    Matt is right regarding the extra monies we receve that are not mentioned, but I would point out that even including this the entire budget for all seven colleges was just over half of that spent on 300 students at one hall at Birmingham. Does anyone genuinely believe that this is good enough?

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  15. 4 May ’08 at 4:59 pm

    Tom Langrish

    Quick question Matt, do you think the extra money should come from YUSU or the university?

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  16. I don’t see YUSU as middle-men. How would you propose that JCRCs are paid ‘money directly’ and on what basis? What about colleges that have more opportunity to self-fund than others through the facilities they have? I surely don’t think the University have time to work out who ‘deserves’ or ‘should get’ X amount of money per JCRC. That’s where YUSU Finance Committee comes in.

    Where would they pay the money in to?

    There is a lot of work to be done to strengthen our case together to fight for more overall funding. If there was more money in general, perhaps more could be given out?

    I’m still not convinced what else money could be spent on?

    If a proper research project was undertaken then perhaps we might find that things aren’t black and white with regards to comparison of funding at other institutions – for example, we don’t receive all monies for graduate students – it is split with the GSA. Not the case at many other institutions.

    With regards to the ‘controls’ or stipulations money can be spent on – we run core services that we *should* be buying into – specifically I know you’re referring to the Print room – a service we don’t run to make a profit, which doesn’t generate a profit and *if* it ever did, all money would come back into the Union for re-distribution (like at Your:Shop).

    And on the subject of the main article in question, I assume that the Nouse team have researched the figures given in the article to be correct as good journalism goes so we’d all have no reason to doubt any of the figures they’ve posted as fact?

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  17. Can someone tell me why Matt Oliver is complaining about all of this when he and his college have chosen to give money away to charity to sponsor a whale amongst other things.

    Ultimately if they are doing this they don’t need to worry about money surely.

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  18. 6 May ’08 at 8:34 pm

    Concerned Student

    I would just like to point out that this article raises an issue which affects every student on campus, including those are involved in JCRCs and those who work for YUSU. It concerns facilities, accommodation and the general well-being of everyone using our campus and is something we should all be taking seriously, given the gravity of the statistics presented.

    I’m fairly sure it was never intended as an attack on YUSU and there’s no need for anyone to take it as such – but the figures are alarming and they should be looked at by students, by the union and by the university. (Though I concede that the phrase ‘completely broken’ was either taken out of its context or just a rather unnecessary and destructive addition to an otherwise persuasive article.)

    The real issue seems to be the comparison with other universities, which is surely worth investigating whether the figures are legitimate or not. If indeed other universities are managing their money more efficiently or if students are receiving better funding, it can only be a positive exercise in improving our university, without becoming a personal debate.

    And finally, having a go at a college for giving money to charity is an incredibly cheap shot and one that is barely relevant at that. At no point does the article say that any college is struggling, it merely points out that they might not be receiving the same benefits at colleges in other collegiate universities.

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