Adelaide University Union

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Adelaide University Union Building 1930

The Adelaide University Union (AUU) was founded in 1895. The AUU currently funds five affiliated bodies. These include the Student Representative Council (SRC), Student Care, the Roseworthy Agricultural Campus Student Union Council (RACSUC), and the Waite Institute Students’ Association (WISA). In 2008 the AUU Board disaffiliated the now defunct Students' Association of the University of Adelaide (SAUA), which was replaced by the SRC.

After the introduction of Voluntary Student Unionism, the AUU found itself in financial difficulties. This was addressed in early 2008, when the University of Adelaide signed a Funding Agreement to fund the AUU for the next ten years[1] in return for the AUU relinquishing all its commercial operations to the University. In 2009, the Adelaide University Sports Association, previously an affiliate of the Union, began the process of disaffiliation from the AUU, having secured a separate funding agreement with the University.[2]

Formal relationship with the University of Adelaide[edit]

As of 2008, the AUU relies on the University of Adelaide for the vast majority of its funding. This is a result of a funding agreement with the University.[3]

The ultimate existence of the AUU, and its relationship with the university, is governed by the University of Adelaide Act 1971. This Act of the South Australian Parliament gives the University of Adelaide Council significant power over the Union. The AUU cannot alter its constitution or rules, or charge a membership fee, without the agreement of University Council. Furthermore the AUU is bound to provide University Council with its financial reports and budget for the coming calendar year prior to 1 December.[4]

Student governance[edit]

The AUU is governed by a board of management. The board consists of 10 ordinary members, who are not also permanent staff of the AUU, elected annually by the students of the University. The Board then elects several of its members to positions within the AUU, such as AUU President, Union Activities Chair, and Chair of the Finance Committee.[5] Although elections are held annually the Board-elect do not take their positions until 1 December.

Notable past presidents include former South Australian Premier John Bannon, former South Australia Attorney-General Chris Sumner, Australia's first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard (1981–1982)[6][7] and former South Australian Supreme Court Judges Elliott Johnston and Samuel Jacobs. The current AUU President is Samuel Joseph Davis.

Support services[edit]

The AUU has developed an extensive network of support services for Adelaide University students. This includes counselling and academic support services provided by its Education and Welfare Officers (EWOs). The AUU also funds five affiliated organisations which provide further support to students, and the student newspaper On Dit, the third oldest student newspaper in Australia.[8]


The AUU coordinates part of the Adelaide University O'Week.[9] O'Week runs from Monday to Wednesday in the week before lectures begin. This is reduced from previous years in which O-week would run from Monday to Thursday. Funding reasons were cited for the cutbacks, despite impending introduction of the new Student Services Fee. During O'Week the Sports Association and Clubs Association organise their own tented areas where clubs and societies display their activities. The AUU coordinates a variety of events centring around corporate sponsors, beer, bands and barbecues on the lawns near the Union complex. A major event for the week is the O'Live (formerly O-Ball, featuring live entertainment and licensed areas) which takes place in the Cloisters (Union House). O-Live attracts a large crowd of revellers, not all of whom are Adelaide University students, though the event has faced financial issues in recent years.[10]

Impact of VSU[edit]

The post-Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) period contained significant financial difficulties for the AUU. Previously funded by compulsory fees paid by all students, the introduction of voluntary unionism resulted in a sharp drop in income for the AUU. This resulted in grave financial difficulties. In late 2007 the AUU handed control of Union House and the vast majority of the Union's commercial services to the University of Adelaide.[11] This was in return for the University agreeing to fund the AUU for a period of ten years. The University of Adelaide paid $1.2 million to the AUU in the first year of this funding agreement, with future funding to be determined on a year-to-year basis. This gives the University final control over the size of the AUU budget in any given year.
The AUU retains ownership of Unibooks, the profits from which the AUU derives additional income.
Financial membership, the price of which was slashed to $20 in 2008, has been slowly recovering since the post-VSU drop.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "University of Adelaide and Adelaide University Union make funding deal". The Advertiser. 23 June 2008. 
  2. ^ Sports Association Constitution proposed Aug 2009. No contains reference to Adelaide University Union
  3. ^ Adelaide University Union#Impact of VSU
  4. ^ I;field=data;id=228;m=view University of Adelaide Act 1971
  5. ^ AUU Rules and Policies
  6. ^ Cervini, Erica (16 July 2010). "Third Degree: Rise of the campus pollies". Melbourne: The Age. 
  7. ^ Crook, Andrew (1 October 2010). "Crikey List: which MPs were involved in student politics?". Retrieved 24 February 2011. 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ UniBar set for an upgrade in 2008

External links[edit]