The bursary for the Part Time Officers (PTOs) of the Students’ Union, which was controversially recalled after elections last year, has been reinstated for the 2017/18 academic year following a meeting on Wednesday 8th November.
PTOs are students representing different groups within the LSE such as sporting societies and RAG. They also campaign on specific issues such as racial discrimination and tackling homophobia within the university. In the 2015/6 academic year, a bursary for PTOs was introduced to acknowledge their work for the student body. When the package was introduced, the Union committed to review the system yearly to see if bursaries were an appropriate compensation.
There was concern that the bursary would not be reinstated this year due to taxation issues and visa implications for certain officers. The bursary was categorised by HM Revenues & Customs as paid work because of it being paid due to the hours spent working, rather than a one-off payment.
A survey was also carried out, where 60% of PTOs stated that the bursary didn’t impact their decision to stand for the position. Following on from the concerns and feedback from PTOs, it was proposed that the bursary as put forward in 2016/17 would not carry forward to 2017/18.
Fortunately, a reviewed decision from the Board of Trustees has meant that officers will be receiving a bursary this academic year. To pay for the bursaries, money was taken from the honorarium fund as most funding had already been designated for the coming year.
PTOs have released a statement saying: “We’re delighted that the SU has recognised what it said it would do for us, and reinstated the bursary. It is welcome that they recognise Part Time Officers are an integral and invaluable part of the Student Union, and are often the first point of contact for new students. We would like to thank LSE students generally for keeping the pressure up and The Beaver for their campaigning work on it. Going forward we are working with the SU to find a sustainable solution that will work for all parties.”
The bursaries for the PTOs will be up for review for the academic year of 2018/19 where alternatives to the bursaries will be discussed. The proposed new compensation schemes include: a benefits package; a continued honorarium; or making the position completely voluntary. There will be another meeting to review changes in December 2017.