At the October 1 AUSU Council Meeting, council discussed a number of financial issues. Among them was a review of the proposed new budget for the 2004/05 fiscal year.
This year, student fees have been slightly lower than anticipated, but AUSU was able to save over $60,000 by cutting funding from the student planner project and by creating changes in marketing strategies, such as mail surveys, etc. The handbook budget alone was reduced from $80,000 to a proposed $15,000 with council’s decision to break away from a partnership with AU, opting instead to create their own handbook geared towards distance education students, which is to be printed in January of next year. (editor’s note: the new student planner will be produced for 2005, but it will no longer be automatically sent to all new students. It will be available to all AUSU members upon request, to ensure that only those who want a planner, get one)
Other sources of savings included The Voice, which has more writers, but reduced office supply costs, as well as the bursary fund, which had $1300 remaining this year. After a motion was passed to approve the 2004/2005 preliminary budget, the council went on to discuss a couple of issues related to the AUSU website.
Barring a few script replacements, the bulletin system is essentially fixed now, and direct messaging will make it easier for students to launch initial contact with each other when arranging a Study Buddy. It was brought up that many students on the Study Buddy board are not looking for a study contact, rather, a personal opinion on the course they are taking — this is what the course evaluation surveys are designed for, and students are encouraged to fill them out.
Finally, council evaluated the software used to build the surveys — while they’re perfectly functional, the system operates on old version software, and is liable to become unstable as new versions of web browsers emerge, and a new open source version may be considered, at no cost to the council.