Four University of Auckland clubs and its staff common room were paid around $104,000 from the government’s COVID-19 wage subsidy scheme.
The university’s staff common room received $42,088 for eight employees, while the Auckland University Rugby Football Club got $33,688.80 for the wages of six employees, the Cricket Club got $15,429 for three of its staff, and $12,600 were given to the Hockey club to pay the wages of three employees.
Under the wage subsidy, employers can claim $585.50 per week for each full time worker and $350 per week for each part time worker.
Tertiary education providers, such as universities, polytechnics/institutes of technology and wānanga, are considered as state sector employers and are ineligible for the government’s wage subsidy.
However, Jayne Russell, group general manager employment from the Ministry of Social Development, told Craccum that private organizations separate from the state sector could be entitled to the wage subsidy if they had experienced a revenue loss.
Clubs at the university operate as independent organisations, as they have their own constitutions and are responsible for their own operations and finances. Many student clubs are also registered as incorporated societies.
Responding to Craccum, the university said the staff common room, which is located at the Old Government House and its membership only open to staff, PhD candidates and members of the University of Auckland Society, is eligible for the wage subsidy scheme because it is an incorporated society.
The university also said the more than $42,000 subsidy is for a full-time club manager, a part-time custodian and six part-time bar staff.
Auckland University Rugby Football Club General Manager Matt Megaw told Craccum the club is only an affiliate with no direct links with the University, other than a $5,000 scholarship.
Megaw said the subsidy would be covering the full-time wages of the General Manager and the Director of Rugby, as well as the wages of four part-time employees, including one coach, a Junior Rugby Development Officer, one finance officer and the bar manager.
Jeremey Chen, the President of the Auckland University Hockey Club, said the club was also registered as an incorporated society that complied with the university’s rules to use on-campus facilities.
He told Craccum the subsidy is for the salaries of three coaches for the men’s and women’s teams.
“In past years, we have funded their salaries through a combination of donations from club members and through community grant funding.”
“With our coaches having been involved with our teams and the hockey season commencing pre-lockdown for their particular grades, along with a view to the season resuming later this year, we felt that we should attempt to honour their contracts as best as we could.”
The Auckland University Cricket Club has not responded to a request for comment before the time of publication.
While the student unions at Victoria, Lincoln, Otago and Canterbury universities have applied for wage subsidies, Auckland University Student Association (AUSA) has not and said it has no plans to do so.
President George Barton told Craccum that AUSA has not experienced a 30 percent decrease in revenue – a situation that he expects will not happen – which is part of the requirements to apply for a wage subsidy.
“Unlike other Students’ Associations like OUSA (Otago University Students’ Association) and UCSA (University of Canterbury Student Association) which finance part of their operations through bars and cafes that are directly part of their Associations, our income is considerably more certain in a context like this because it’s mainly from the University and our investments.”
“We have experienced a decrease in income against what we were expecting this year but it is not sufficient to meet the wage subsidy’s 30% decrease threshold.”
“In addition to this, the lockdown and present situation have also meant a decrease in expenditure in some of our cost centres (such as Events and printing for Craccum magazine) as well.”
Barton also said AUSA has not heard that student clubs are struggling financially, as he believes most of the large student clubs would have likely lost income from sponsorship and sales, but they probably won’t have any large expenditure because large events like steins and balls would not take place.
“I encourage any clubs that would like any advice or help to get in touch if they think that might be helpful.”