Students' associations are working to avoid a big drop in income next year when their membership becomes voluntary.
The Union of Students Associations says its members hope to negotiate contracts with universities and polytechnics so they can continue to offer services such as food banks.
The income from those contracts will replace the fees the associations expect to miss out on under voluntary membership.
However, the Union of Students Associations says students will not be financially better off.
It says most universities and polytechnics will increase their compulsory student service levies so they can pay the associations for their work.
It expects those increases will be similar to the amount the student associations charge for membership.
The union says negotiations with institutions are being held up while the government decides what student levies can be used for.