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Have You Ever Wondered How Your Membership Fee Is Spent?

Raquel Frescia - Authorosqledaren@ths.kth.se

Haouye Liu - Illustratorhaouye.liu@osqledaren.se

It’s no secret that THS, which has long served as a vital part of student life and offers its members a range of benefits and support, is facing financial difficulties threatening its continued operation and ability to represent and serve the student body effectively. But most students don’t seem to know why.

THS is critical in enhancing student life by offering various benefits and support services. However, THS is facing significant financial challenges, threatening its ability to serve and represent the student body effectively. To address these challenges and ensure long-term stability, it is essential to understand the sources of income, expenditure, and the areas that require strategic focus.

A recent survey revealed that only 23% of the 367 respondents had ever attended a meeting about THS’s budget. This low level of participation indicates a general lack of awareness and understanding of the union’s financial situation. Most students felt uninformed when asked to rate their knowledge of THS finances on a scale from 1 to 5.

Additionally, only 29% of respondents knew how to provide input into budget decisions, and 35% considered their THS membership (for an annual fee of 365 SEK) good value for money.

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To understand the financial functioning of THS, it is important to start with an overview of its sources of income and expenditure. THS income in 23/24 is expected to amount to 51.1 million SEK, of which only 6.3%, or 3.2 million SEK, was expected to come from membership fees. At the time of writing, THS has 10,710 members (4.6% more than the year 22/23), of which 10,680 are KTH students. This amounts to approximately 3.9 million SEK, significantly more than expected.

These fees are important as they reflect the students' commitment and support for the union. In addition, they serve as a stable and predictable source of income that THS can count on each year, which is important for long-term planning and budgeting.

The fact that such a low percentage of income comes from membership fees shows a clear dependency on other sources of income to finance the union's activities, underlining the importance of securing and diversifying these sources of income to ensure stability and the ability to meet members' needs.

A substantial income, 15.2 million SEK, or 20.8%, comes from various grants and allowances. This includes support from KTH, project grants and other financial support. Financial support from KTH, including from Idrotten-Friskvården, totals 14.4 million SEK.

The grant is divided across different THS operations. However, the operations where most of this funding is allocated are Nymble study spots (4 million SEK), THS Restaurant (2.2 million SEK) and Student Influence (1.25 million SEK).

However, the most significant part of THS's income comes from rentals (Nymble: 990,000 SEK, Osqvik: 240,000), sales (Restaurant: 13.2 million SEK), events and projects such as career fairs, generating the remaining 31.8 million SEK.

These activities are critical to the finances of the Union and enable a wide range of services and events for members. They also reflect THS's ability to engage with external partners and stakeholders, contributing to a dynamic student environment at KTH.

The amount each revenue stream contributes to THS operations is most apparent in Graph 2. This graph is based on the mid-year report’s revenue estimates and may differ from the budget and the year’s results.

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Although membership fees (365 SEK per academic year per member) cover only a small part of the overall operational costs of THS, they still contribute significantly to various expenses.

As a THS member, knowing exactly how these fees are utilised can be difficult. While THS offers various services most know, such as student discounts and access to student housing, these benefits are not directly funded by membership fees.

For simplicity, our calculations include only operations that incur a loss at the end of the fiscal year. Some operational budgets are designed to break even, while others generate a profit. Including profitable business operations (THS Armada and THS Business Relations) in the same calculation as THS Sponsoring and Partnership would result in a net profit, suggesting that membership fees are not allocated to these operations. However, the total revenue of THS is allocated to all operations as needed, not just specific ones.

Therefore, the percentage of total revenue allocated to a specific operation is proportionate to the percentage of the membership fee allocated to the operation after accounting for fees to umbrella organisations.

Graph 3 shows a detailed breakdown of how membership fees are allocated. It becomes apparent that a significant portion of the membership fee, 62 SEK, funds the restaurant and café in Nymble. An additional 54 SEK is allocated to national and international receptions, welcoming new students to KTH.

This year, 33 SEK of the membership fee was allocated to the Students’ Nobel NightCap (SNNC). The smallest portion, 2 SEK, supports student influence activities, including educational affairs and student welfare.

These allocations appear controversial to many students. Our survey indicates that 50% of THS members believe we should invest less in restaurant operations, and 65% think projects like SNNC should receive less funding. Furthermore, 47% of members feel that we do not invest enough in student influence on educational affairs, and 65% believe more investment is needed in student welfare.

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THS’s operational plan states, “THS continuously strives for development in educational, social, and industry-related matters for students at KTH.” To ensure the union’s vision and mission remain central to our work, operations are assessed based on, among others, their purpose concerning THS’s three pillars: Study Time, Leisure Time, and Future.

Study Time is meant to provide attractive study spaces and affordable necessities such as housing, course literature, and food. Among the operations led by the management team (KL), only student influence and parts of THS International are included in this category.

However, the study spaces, the restaurant and café, and the bookshop in Nymble also contribute to this pillar. Therefore, these have been included in our calculations. In this context, operations related to Study Time generate a profit loss of 60,000 SEK.

Leisure Time is meant to offer a diverse range of activities and associations to engage, foster a sense of community, and provide students with accessible activities alongside their studies. Most operations led by KL are included in this pillar. In our calculations, we have also included Osqvik and associations’ facilities in Nymble.

Although short- and long-term rental of other spaces in Nymble might also contribute to this pillar, it is difficult to discern which costs and revenues are attributed to this area. Therefore, other Nymble operations have been excluded from our calculations. In this context, operations related to Leisure Time incur a net loss of 4.82 million SEK.

Future is meant to provide students with the opportunity to meet potential employers and clearly understand their career goals upon completion of their studies. In this pillar, the only two profitable operations led by KL are included: THS Armada and THS Business Relations. THS Sponsorship and Partnership are included in our calculations as they support other business activities. In this context, operations related to Leisure Time generate a net profit of 3.24 million SEK.

If you would like to learn more about:

• How budgets are set,

• How we support chapters and associations,

• SNNC's unexpected loss of 1.1 million,

• The restaurant and café's financial burden

• Which operations cover Nymble maintenance and adiminstration costs,

• How much revenue tentapubar generate

• The expenditures of business activities

• Which associations are directly financed by THS, and

• Many other recurring questions concerning THS's finances in our survey,

keep an eye on osqledaren.se.

Publicerad: 2024-05-24

Ansvarig utgivare: Raquel Frescia
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