“Actually I have no idea where the money goes.”

(Response to METKA2020 Survey)

In the previous METKA2020 article, we discussed shortly why METKA, or student unions, collect membership fees. This time we will dissect the fee itself to show what is included in the price, and why the number is what it is.

This text is based on the responses in METKA2020 Survey.

Membership fee

In METKA2020 Survey, there was a question about how the participants thought METKA uses the membership fees it collects. In general, the responses listed different METKA operations. Rightfully so: most of the fee goes to maintain and develop the operations overall.

The amount of membership fee is decided by METKA Student Parliament, this year in April. The student parliament meetings are open for all METKA members. The parliament members are listed on METKA website.

The membership fee is decided for one year at a time. The current price for academic year, 52 euros, has been the parliament decision both in 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 based on following criteria:

Maintaining current level of operations24 €
Developing operations6 €
Member loss compensation6 €
Zone sports services6 €
Membership of University of Applied Sciences Students in Finland – SAMOK5,5 € for each member
OPKU+ co-operation network4 €
Membership of The Finnish Student Sports Federation OLL0,6 € for each member

Maintaining and developing METKA operations

It has been calculated that in order to maintain the daily METKA operations, the amount of money needed per member is 24 euros. This includes for example the staff and board members’ payroll, organizing tutor trainings and developing student cards.

However, this number was based on the previously rather stable number of 6000-7000 METKA members. In 2019, the number decreased to the current 2500-3000 members. To compensate the revenue loss and simultaneously developing the operations, additional 12 euros was added to the fee.

This brings the total to 36 euros needed for METKA operations.

Reacting to the member loss

In 2018, preemptive measures for the anticipated member loss were included into the membership fee. This was based on the assumption that when the national student ID would become available for all Metropolia students in Tuudo starting January 2019, the number of METKA members would inevitably be decreased.

In the past, when the free student ID in Metropolia was not in use, all students had to join METKA in order to get a valid plastic student card. This is still the case with plastic cards, both in METKA and in other student unions. Using the previous digital student card required METKA membership as well. Pivo functions also based on this requirement today.

In the end, METKA’s member loss was around 60 % after the national student ID was published. By raising the membership fee, this loss in revenue was partially covered.

Other way to react to the revenue loss has been getting sponsors. The collaborations always demand thorough discussions as METKA is meant to represent the entire student body in Metropolia.

Union memberships and collaborations

METKA is a member of both Union of Students in Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences SAMOK and Finnish Students Sports Federation OLL. Both unions collect member fees from the student unions themselves.

The fee is based on the total number of members in a particular student union. The prices are decided also yearly, and in 2020 they are 5,50 euros for SAMOK, and 0,50 euros for OLL.

Both unions are highly important and esteemed advocacy partners for METKA.

OPKU+ is a network that currently includes eight (8) UAS student unions. All six student unions working in the metropolitan area, in addition to Turku and Jyväskylä student unions, are working together to develop services and information systems to be able to serve members the best way possible.

OPKU+ works together also in student advocacy for example by making statements and developing urban policy strategies together.

Zone Sport Services

Sport services for students were included into the METKA membership in 2018.

Zone Sports Services were created at the same time to provide sports for students in all students in the universities of applied sciences in the metropolitan area. Before this, METKA produced its own sport services. METKA members got access by getting separately paid Sports Pass.

In addition to including Zone as an integral part of METKA membership, the price hiked up overall at the same time: 22 euros in total. At that time, and seemingly in some cases today, it was thought that Zone by itself created the rise in the membership fee. This is not entirely true, as also the compensation for the member loss looming in few months and developing the operations were also added to the overall price simultaneously.

Offering sport services for all students economically is an important part of advocacy work. METKA wants to make sports available for all in reasonable price.

The future of METKA Membership

By this article, METKA aims to openly answer the questions that surface regularly: why the membership costs as much as it does, and how the money is used. Direct answers to how the memberships fees are specifically used in terms of daily operations cannot be given, as they have not been specifically allocated. However, the structure of the fee can be explained a bit more conveniently. The fee is decided for one year at the time: METKA board gives presentation of a price based on calculations, and the student parliament makes the final decision.

As mentioned, the membership fee is calculated based on how METKA wants to operate, and how much money is needed to make that reality. Planning the current and future operations are a core part of daily work in METKA. METKA’s own wants compared to the needs of members is another discussion: if Metropolia students do not feel that METKA operations do not serve them well, they likely will not join.

METKA has a dual role as a student union. On one hand, METKA operations should promote the societal aspirations of the whole student body in Metropolia. On the other hand, METKA should work for the member community.

All in all, METKA is now at a crossroads. The whole effect of member loss, meaning also the loss in revenue, has not been fully realised so far. If the operations were to be kept as they are, the revenue loss in member fees should be compensated in one of three ways:

  • getting the number of members back to what it used to be
  • finding other sources for revenue or
  • accommodating the operations for the current economical situation.

This question, among many others, are one of the core issues METKA works now in 2020.

Next week

Next time we will discuss student cards, both digital and plastic ones. We will open what is currently going on in the field of digital student cards, and why plastic cards are not currently available. Stay tuned!

This article was written by Paavo Nisula, Specialist in Member Services in collaboration with the METKA Board and staff.

Read all METKA2020 articles here!

This post is also available in Suomi.