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2ND-5TH APRIL

2012

2 -5 AIBREÁN

2012

ÓSTAN CARLTON SHEARWATER BÉAL ÁTHA NA SLUAIGHE, CO. NA GAILLIMHE

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TABLE OF CONTENTS 2 President’s Welcome 4 Programme of Events 8 Entertainment 9 Getting to Congress 10 Hotel Plan 12 Welcome from Chair of Steering Committee

a) Constitutional Amendments 85 b) Academic Affairs & Quality Assurance 89

Elections Committee

d) International Affairs 98

13 Welcome from Chair of 14 Steering & Elections Committees 16 How Does Congress Work? 20 Mock Motions 21 Officer Reports a) Oifigeach na Gaeilge b) NUS-USI President c) Western Area Officer d) Eastern Area Officer e) Southern Area Officer f) LGBT Rights Officer g) Equality Officer h) Welfare Officer i) Education Officer j) Deputy President k) President

65 Funding Preferendum 72 Officer Board Elections

a) VP Gaeilge b) VP BMW Region c) VP Southern Region d) VP Equality e) VP Welfare f) VP Campaigns g) VP Academic Affairs and QA h) President

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22 Competition 84 Motions & Policies 122 USI Accounts

c) Equality Motions 94 e) National Affairs 98

f) Union Organisation 105 g) Welfare 113

h) RĂşin na Gaeilge 119

i) Citizenship Motions 120 j) Prioritised Policies & Mandates due to Expire 123 k) Other Policies & Mandates due to Expire 142

180 USI Accounts


PRESIDENT’S WELCOME Dear delegate, It gives me enormous pleasure to welcome you to the 52nd USI Annual Congress. Ireland is going through one of the toughest periods in our history. We have watched helplessly as friends and family emigrate in search of opportunity. We watched classmates drop out of college as financial supports dwindle and fees increase. We watched as Ireland’s economic sovereignty was pawned in order to keep the international money markets at bay.   There seems to be an inherent belief that our futures are not of our own choosing. Day after day we are bombarded with pessimism. Day after day we are bombarded with the IMF deal, the economic downturn, soaring unemployment and emigration. Day after day we are bombarded with the idea that the ability to choose one’s direction in life has been slowly pried from our hands.   And while we would be foolish to ignore the problems facing this country, we cannot afford to dwell on them for a second longer. As an organisation, as a country, as a people, we need to learn from the mistakes of the past but we also need to move on.   I am exceptionally proud of this country and of USI. Our influence and self-belief as a people in the past allowed us to span the globe. For a small nation, we have given the world so much. And while the world may look at Ireland through weary eyes at the minute, I say to you this:   The world will regain confidence in Ireland when we regain confidence in Ireland. We are the same highly educated and hard working people that we were at the height of the Celtic Tiger. We have the same brilliant minds, the same hopes, the same dreams, the same aspirations.   Yes, we’ve been knocked down but it is time to get back up. Our politicians talk about what needs to be done in the future. They talk about what is required “going forward”. I say we need to talk about what is required right now. The time for ensuring equity of access to education, the time for ensuring our best and brightest are not forced to leave in search of opportunity, and the time to get this country back up off its knees is always right now.   Over the coming days they will be furious debate and difficult decisions will be made. This congress is one of the most important in the history of the student movement. For the first time, you will be asked whether USI should continue with our current ‘free fees’ policy or alternatively campaign for the re-introduction of upfront fees, a graduate tax, student loans or support the status quo of an upfront student contribution. This is not a decision that should be taken lightly and I would encourage each of you to read the information booklet and attend the debate. USI has a long and proud history of leading social and economic change in Ireland from social issues such as contraception and divorce to political and economic issues such as Public Sector Reform. Take this journey with us, go the distance with us, help us find the solutions to the challenges we face and help shape our future. Beir bua,

Gary Redmond Uachtarán

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PROGRAMME OF EVENTS

All attendees must be in possession of a valid delegate or observer pass at all times. Credentials cannot be replaced if lost or misplaced.

Monday 2nd April 10:30 – 12:00

Registration

12:15 – 12:45

National Council

12:45 – 13:00

Delegate Leaders Meeting

13:00 – 13:15

Congress Photo

13:15 – 13:45

Adoption of Clár & President’s Welcome

13:45 – 14:15

Steering Introduction & Congress Training

Hotel Lobby Dunlo Suite Hotel Lobby

14:15 – 14:30

Plaza Suite Pre Conference Area

14:15 – 14:30

Election Hustings

14:30 – 16:00

Policies & Mandates due to Expire

18:15– 19:00

Election Hustings

17:00 – 18:15

Dinner & Hotel Check in

18:15– 19:00

Election Hustings (Continued)

19:00 – 19:15

Address by NUS UK President – Mr. Liam Burns

19:15 – 21:45

Discussion of Preferendum Motion – USI Position on Funding

21:45 – 22:30

Presidential Candidates Debate

Pre Conference Area Plaza Suite Marina Restaurant & Canal Bar

Plaza Suite

Other Important Information •

A luggage storage facility will be available in the Dunlo Suite in the 1st floor conference centre throughout Monday. A valid delegate pass and student card will be required to access the facility.

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Steering and Elections Committee meetings shall take place in the Oranmore Boardroom.

14:30 - Deadline for Submission of Hustings Questions to Elections Committee


Tuesday 3rd April 08:00 – 09:30 Breakfast 09:30 – 11:00

Marina Restaurant & Canal Bar

Policies & Mandates due to Expire (Continued)

11:00 – 11:15

Plaza Suite Pre Conference Area

11:15 – 12:00

Plaza Suite

12:00 – 13:00

Welfare Motions

13:00 – 14:00

Lunch

14:00 – 15:30

Panel Discussion - Tackling the Emigration Crisis

15:00 – 16:15

Equality Motions

Marina Restaurant & Canal Bar

Plaza Suite

16:15 – 17:00 17:30 – 18:30 17:00 – 19:00

Dinner

Marina Restaurant & Canal Bar Clonfert Suite

& Funding Preferendum

19:00 – 21:00 20:30 – 21:15

Plaza Suite Various Campaign Workshops and Seminars – Consult your delegate pack for a detailed schedule

1st Floor Conference Centre

Other Important Information • in the first floor conference centre. All delegates must be in possession of a valid delegate card and accompanying student ID to vote.

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Wednesday 4th April 08:00 – 09:30 Breakfast 09:30 – 10:40

Marina Restaurant & Canal Bar

(Continued) Plaza Suite

10:40 – 10:55 11:00 – 11:30

Address by Uachtaráin na hEireann –Michael D. Higgins

11:30 – 12:00

Pre Conference Area

12:00 – 13:00

Presentation followed by Q & A – Student Universal Support Ireland (Centralised Grant Agency)

13:00 – 14:00

Lunch

14:00 – 15:30

Constitutional Amendments

15:30 – 15:45

Rúin na Gaeilge

Marina Restaurant & Canal Bar

15:45 – 16:00 Presentation of USI Annual Accounts – Gary Redmond, President & Hugh O’Reilly, Chair Finance Committee

16:30 – 17:45

Union Organisation Motions Plaza Suite

17:45 – 18:30

Plaza Suite Pre Conference Area

16:00 – 16:30

18:30 – 19:00

Plaza Suite

Welfare Motions (Continued)

20:30

Gala Dinner

21:00

President’s Address to 52nd Annual Congress

Other Important Information Congress as soon as they are available. Counting of votes in the Funding Preferendum will begin

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20:00 – Deadline for Submission of Emergency Motions to Steering Committee


Thursday 5th April 09:00 – 10:30 Breakfast

Marina Restaurant & Canal Bar

10:30 – 11:00

Citizenship Motions

11:00 – 12:00

The Higher Education Landspace – Tom Boland, Higher Education Authority (HEA)

12:00 – 12:30

Union Organisation Motions (Continued)

12:30 – 13:00

Undiscussed Motions

13:00 – 14:00

Lunch

14:00 – 15:00

Undiscussed Motions (Continued)

15:00 – 15:30

Emergency Motions

15:30 – 16:00

President invites President Elect to close the 52nd Annual USI Congress

Hotel check out: 11:00.

Plaza Suite

Marina Restaurant & Canal Bar

Plaza Suite

Other Important Information

A luggage storage facility will be available in the Aughrim Suite in the 1st floor conference centre. A valid delegate pass and student card will be required to access the facility.

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Entertainment Monday 2nd April 22:30 – 00:00

Film – The Hangover & Bridesmaids

Aughrim Suite

22:30 – 00:00

Céilí

Canal Bar

00:00

80s School Disco

Canal Bar

Tuesday 3rd April 22:30 – 00:00

Film – Anchor Man & The Hangover 2

Aughrim Suite

22:30 – 00:00

Band -

Canal Bar

22:30 – 00:00

DJ

Canal Bar

Wednesday 4th April

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20:30

Gala Dinner

Plaza Suite

22:00

Steering Committee Congress Awards

Plaza Suite

22:30

USI Awards 2012

Plaza Suite

23:00

Band – Bluemoose

Plaza Suite

01:00

DJ

Canal Bar


GETTING TO CONGRESS Car

Ballinasloe-Galway: 30 minutes Ballinasloe-Dublin: 90 minutes Ballinasloe-Athlone: 15 mins

There is secure, free underground car park available in the basement of the hotel.

Rail

Located on the Dublin to Galway Trainline.

Bus

Regular Bus Eireann Services from throughout Ireland

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HOTEL MAP

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STEERING & ELECTIONS COMMITTEES

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WELCOME FROM CHAIR OF

STEERING COMMITTEE A chairde, Ba mhaith liom ar son an Choiste Stiúrtha an deis seo a thapú le hi a rá libh agus cur síos beag a dhéanamh ar an ról atá againn ag Comhdháil AMLÉ. Beimid ag déanamh cathaoirleacht ar na seisiúin plé a bheidh ag dul ar aghaidh sa chéad chúpla lá eile. Ní mic léinn reatha muid ach tá muid tar éis a bheith mar bhaill den Aontas cheana féin agus bhí an chuid is mó againn mar oifigigh le hAMLÉ. Níl gach rud ar eolas ag aon bhall amháin den Choiste, ach eadrainn mar choiste, beimid in ann aon cheist a bhaineann leis an gComhdháil a fhreagairt. Táimid ag súil le díospóireacht bhreá i rith na Comhdhála agus ba mhaith linn iarraidh ar gach teachta meas a bheith agaibh ar a chéile. Molaimid gur chóir do gach teachta a bheith gníomhach sa phlé. Is cinnte go mbíonn sé deacair labhairt don chéad uair ach chomh luath is a bristear an leac oighir beidh sé deacair gan dul ar ais go dtí an póidiam arís is arís eile! Beimid ag coinneáil súil ar na cainteoirí ar fad agus beidh cúpla gradam le bronnadh againn ar an oíche dheireanach le haitheantas a thabhairt do theachtaí áirithe a sheasann amach thar thréimhse na Comhdhála. Ag súil le caint libh i rith na Comhdhála, On behalf of Steering Committee I would like to take this opportunity to say hi and to give you some info on the role we will play at USI Congress. We will be chairing the sessions that will be taking place over the next few days. We are not current students but we have been members of the Union in the past and the majority of us have also been USI Officers. No one member of the Committee knows everything, but as a committee, we will be able to answer any question with regard to the Congress. We are looking forward to good debating during the Congress and we would ask every delegate to respect all other delegates. We recommend to all delegates to take part in the debate. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to speak for the first time on Congress floor but as soon as you break the ice you’ll find it hard not to go back up to the podium again and again. We will be keeping an eye on all speakers and we will present a number of awards on the last night to recognise some delegates who stand out for the duration of Congress. Looking forward to talking to you during Congress, Julian de Spáinn, Cathaoirleach.

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WELCOME FROM CHAIR OF

ELECTIONS COMMITTEE Dear delegate, Elections Committee is comprised of Ben Archibald, Colm Jordan, Dr. Rory McDaid, Mark McLean and myself.  Our function is to ensure that you can have confidence that both the polling and the counting of ballots are conducted in an independent, impartial and accurate manner.  To that end Delegate Leaders have been advised on a number of occasions to ensure that each delegate has their Student Card upon their person during polling.  Each delegate’s identity is verified upon registration and during polling there will be random spot checks on Student Cards to verify identification and student status.  Following the close of polling Elections Committee with the assistance of USI HQ will ensure that the ballot box is securely stored until the counting of the ballots.  At the election count a representative from each candidate (or the candidate themselves) may be present but subject strictly to their covenant not to release any results prematurely.  Your cooperation in these respects will ensure an efficient election process.   We hope that you have a productive and enjoyable Annual Congress.   Richard Hammond

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STEERING & ELECTIONS COMMITTEE BEN ARCHIBALD Ben Archibald is a Public Relations officer for a prominent Irish NGO.  He was Deputy Convenor of NUS-USI, Convenor (now President) NUS-USI 2002-2004 and USI President in 2004-2005.  He enjoys piña coladas and long walks in the rain and dislikes the colour red.

COLM JORDAN Colm Jordan is a former DIT student and DITSU sabbatical. He is the only person in USI history to of been elected to five consecutive Officerboards having served as an area officer, education officer and USI President. Colm worked as a trade union official and later with a political party. Colm now works in government and also trains sabbatical teams and class reps around the country. Friendly and approachable, Delegates are welcome to ask Colm questions about congress / elections procedure. Be sure to ask if you have difficulty with any unfamiliar terms; Colm knows his HEA from his MLA!

JULIAN DE SPÁINN,

CATHAOIRLEACH COISTE STIÚRTHA AGUS COMHAIRLE NÁISIÚNTA AMLÉ

Is iar-mhac léinn agus iar-oifigeach lánaimseartha é Julian le hOllscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh. Is céimí é chomh maith de ITGME agus OCBÁC (agus bhí se ina sheanadóir in IT Tamhlacht). D’fhreastail sé ar 4 Bord Oifigeach AMLÉ mar Oifigeach na Gaeilge, Leasuachtarán/Oifigeach na bhFeachtas agus Uachtarán. Tá Julian mar Ard-Rúnaí le Conradh na Gaeilge ó 2005 agus baineann sé úsáid as a thaithí ó fheachtais AMLÉ le húsáid na Gaeilge a chur chun cinn, stocaireacht a dhéanamh uirthi agus le daoine a mhealladh len í a úsáid. Ná bíodh drogall ort ceist a chur air maidir leis an gComhdháil as Gaeilge, as Béarla nó Gearmánais! Julian is a former NUI, Galway student and sabbatical. He also is a graduate of GMIT and DCU (and was also an IT Tallaght senator). He served on 4 USI Officer Boards as Oifigeach na Gaeilge, Deputy President/Campaigns Officer and President. Julian is the General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge since 2005 and uses his campaign experience from student involvement to promote, lobby and encourage the use of the Irish language. Feel free to ask him about the running of Congress in Irish, English or German!

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KEN CURTIN Ken is a communications and public affairs consultant.  He is married with two daughters.  He spent five years on the executive in CITSU holding a range of roles including Education, Welfare and President.  He was active in USI in the mid to late 90s. Ken’s areas of expertise are politics and Cork.  He’s very approachable on all topics and if given a chance to air it has an opinion on more or less everything.  Ken attended his first congress way back in 1994, when many delegates here hadn’t even started primary school!  He tweets (constantly) as @kencurtin

CHRIS NEWELL Chris Newell is a former officer and staff member of USI. His first involvement in student politics was as Vice President in NUI Galway Students’ Union. He proudly served two terms as USI Western Area Officer and returned to the national union as General Manager several years later. He is currently employed as General Manager in NUI Galway Students’ Union. Chris is also a member of USI Finance Committee and Bord Stiúrtha Sheachtain na Gaeilge.

BRIGHID BREATHNACH Brighid Breathnach is a former Oifigeach na Gaeilge and the first ever female Education Officer elected to USI. As Education Officer she coordinated the European Student Convention in Dublin Castle in 2004. She is a Graduate of UCD (BA in Gaeilge, Politics and History) and a Postgraduate of NUI Galway  (Ard-Dioplóma i gCumarsáid Fheidhmeach). While in UCD, she was Accommodation & Employment Officer, as well as Reachtaire ar an gCumann Gaelach.  Brighid now works as a TV producer for RTÉ and TG4. Delegates should feel free to talk to her if they have any thoughts on Galway/Conamara Hurling or Football.  

LAYNE ASTON Layne Aston is a former IT Tallaght student who was involved in ITTSU from early in 1st year. She served as Welfare Officer and President in Tallaght and went on to become Welfare Officer in USI where she was instrumental in setting up SHAG week in the format that it runs today. Layne has served as a board member of the IFPA and as a member of USI Steering Committee for many years. Layne has worked for the ISPCC and other charities and is currently working for Rehab Group. Please feel free to approach Layne with any queries.  

RICHARD HAMMOND Richard Hammond  was formerly President of the U.C.C. Societies’ Guild, Southern Area Officer of USI, and President of USI.  He is currently a solicitor in practice at Mallow,  County  Cork  with Hammond Good Solicitors.  Richard is member of the Associate Faculty at the Law School of the Law Society of Ireland and is a Council Member of both the Southern Law Association and the Law Society of Ireland.  He is also qualified as an Arbitrator, a Trust & Estate Practitioner, a Mediator, and a European Trademark & Design Attorney.  He is married to Joyce with whom he has one child.

KELLY MACKEY

  Kelly is a former Welfare & Equality Officer (Deputy President) of IADT, Dún Laoghaire Students’ Union (2005/2006) and was the first IADT student to be elected to USI (Welfare Officer, 2006/2007). Having originally studied graphic design, she was bitten by the law bug during her tenure in USI and is now re-training to become a solicitor.   Kelly  currently works for the Communication department of the International Organization for Migration, Ireland and is also a member of the board of the Irish Family Planning Association. Delegates are welcome to ask Kelly any questions or queries they may have about congress.

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HOW DOES CONGRESS WORK?

USI Congress is the supreme decision making body of the Union of Students in Ireland. It has the power to review and amend the Constitution, to decide policy and to elect the following members of the Officerboard : • • • • • • • •

President Vice President for Academic Affairs & Quality Assurance Vice President for Welfare Vice President for Campaigns Vice President for Equality & Citizenship Vice President for the Border, Midlands and Western Region Vice President for the Southern Region Vice President for the Irish Language

WHO ATTENDS CONGRESS?

Congress is composed of the current Officerboard and delegates from each Member Organisation (MO) whose affiliation fees have been paid. The amount of delegates from each MO varies according to the number of students registered in that Students’ Union.

WHO IS IN CHARGE AT CONGRESS?

Steering Committee are responsible for ensuring that things run smoothly and that motions are discussed fairly and properly. They do not vote and they are not members of any delegation. Steering Committee enforce the rules which Congress have adopted : they do not make the rules.

WHAT DOES STEERING COMMITTEE DO?

These people were appointed to Steering Committee by National Council. All have experience in the operation of Congress. Their responsibility at Congress is to preside over the various sessions of debate and to ensure that speakers are not improperly interrupted. They also enforce time limits or other regulations and ensure that votes are carried out in a proper manner.

WHO DO I GO TO IF I HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?

You go to Steering Committee, who should be able to help answer any query you may have. While some members of Steering Committee chair sessions, there are also others situated at the back of Congress floor to answer any questions.

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HOW DO DEBATES WORK AND WHO PROPOSES THE MOTIONS?

The Officer orO who put the motion forward initially, normally proposes the motions in each session i.e. the name, which appears after the motion in the agenda. The motions are, however, technically the property of Congress, and if the people who initially wrote the motion do not turn up, or do not want to speak, any delegate can start the debate by proposing the motion. Once a motion is proposed, it is then open to the floor for discussion.

HOW OFTEN CAN I SPEAK?

Unless you are the person who proposed the motion, you can only speak once on any motion. You can, however, speak on as many motions as you wish during Congress. If you proposed a motion, or if you have an amendment to a motion successfully passed, then you can also sum up before a vote is taken.

HOW LONG CAN I SPEAK FOR?

The person who proposes a motion, can speak for five minutes on why the motion should be passed. Once she or he is finished, Steering Committee will invite delegates to speak for or against the motion. Each of these speakers will have three minutes to outline their reasons for supporting or opposing the motion. The order of speakers will be as follows: Proposer, speaker against, speaker for, speaker against, and so on until a vote is called for. Note that you must speak for or against the motion. Once a vote is called for, the Proposer has the right to sum up, unless an amendment to the motion has been passed, in which case, the proposer of the amendment has the right to summate.

HOW DO AMENDMENTS WORK?

Amendments to motions will have previously been submitted to Steering Committee and are included in the Clár. Steering Committee will invite the proposer of the amendment to speak on why the amendment should be supported. A speaker will then be invited to speak against the amendment, then a speaker for the amendment, and so on until a vote is called for on the amendment. All of these speeches, plus the vote on the amendment, must take place before the debate or voting on the original motion can continue.

PROPOSER

5 MINUTES

SPEAKER FOR/AGAINST

3 MINUTES

WHAT IF THE AMENDMENT FAILS?

If the amendment fails, then debate continues on the original motion as if the amendment had not been proposed.

WHAT IF THE AMENDMENT SUCCEEDS?

If the amendment is passed, then the original motion, together with the amendments agreed on, becomes the substantive motion. The motion is debated as if it was originally put forward in the amended format by the proposer of the amendment. The proposer of the amendment now ‘owns’ the revised motion and it is she or he who has the right to sum up when the vote is called.

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WHAT ARE THE PROCEDURAL MOTIONS?

Procedural motions are motions that can be proposed at any time, except during the act of voting, a speech or a point of order. They refer to the conduct or procedure of the debate, and not to the content of the speeches. See Schedule E (Section 9) of the USI Constitution for details. Hence they are called 9a etc. They require a proposer and a seconder. The proposer can speak for one minute on why the motion should be carried, followed by a speaker for one minute on why it should not be carried. The proposer of the substantive motion usually has priority in replying to a procedural motion. There is then a vote on the procedural motion.

1 MINUTE TO PROPOSE 1 MINUTE TO OPPOSE

WHAT PROCEDURAL MOTIONS CAN BE PUT??

To help ensure that debates run smoothly and as quickly as possible procedural motions exist. The following are the procedural motions and their effect, if passed:

(A) THAT THE QUESTION NOW BE PUT

If passed, there will be an opportunity for the Proposer of the motion to summmarise and then an immediate vote will be taken.

(B) THAT THE QUESTION NOT BE PUT

If passed, prevents a vote being taken on the matter under discussion.

(C) THAT THE QUESTION BE TAKEN IN PARTS

If passed, divides the motion or amendment into specified sections to be voted on individually. Used if there are sections that you do not agree with. This must be put in writing and handed into Steering Committee.

(D) THAT THE MATTER BE REFERRED BACK

If passed, refers the matter back to a specified time or a specified Officer, or a specified Committee, or to a National Council. It is therefore not voted upon at Congress.

(E) A CHALLENGE TO THE CHAIRPERSON’S RULING

If passed, the Chairperson must change his or her ruling on an issue in accordance with the motion.

(F) MOTION OF NO-CONFIDENCE IN THE CHAIRPERSON

If passed, the Chairperson will vacate the Chair for the remainder of the session and will be replaced by another member of Steering Committee.

WHAT ARE POINTS OF ORDER?

Points of Order refer to the conduct of the debate, and arise if a delegate feels that something is happening that is not allowed for within the rules laid down for the conduct of debate. A Point of Order does not relate to the motion being discussed, or any arguments for or against the motion. If you want to raise a Point of Order, you simply state that you are doing so and specify what point you are making. A Point of Order takes precedence over all other business except the act of voting, unless it refers to the conduct of the vote.

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WHAT ARE POINTS OF INFORMATION?

If there is a factual piece of information you feel a speaker should be informed of, you may rise while she or he is speaking and state that you are raising a Point of Information. The speaker may decide whether or not he or she wishes to accept your Point of Information. If they do, you may speak for 15 seconds on this point. If they do not, you must accept this decision. If a speaker accepts a Point of Information, the person requesting same has 15 seconds on this point.

HOW IS THE VOTING ON MOTIONS CARRIED OUT?

Voting on motions and amendments is carried out by show of delegates’ cards, which you must not lose because they cannot be replaced for any reason during Congress. Delegates are NOT allowed to leave/enter Congress Floor whilst a vote/count is in progress.

WHO IS ENTITLED TO VOTE

Only delegates are entitled to vote. If a delegate is temporarily absent, she or he may deputise a registered observer from the same Member Organisation. Accredited observers are entitled to speak at Congress. Invited guests are not allowed to speak in debates. Steering Committeewill then recommend a course of action to Congress, who will either accept the ruling or object to it. If there is an objection, there will be a vote and Congress can only overrule the recommendation of Steering Committee by a two-thirds majority.

CAN THESE RULES BE CHANGED DURING CONGRESS?

The method of raising items not on the agenda is to propose the suspension of Standing Orders. This is done by proposing a motion to that effect, stating why you want standing orders suspended and for how long you want them suspended. Standing Orders may only be suspended in exceptional circumstances The Chairperson will put the matter to an immediate vote and to be carried, it must receive the backing of two-thirds of those present and voting. Only that business for which Standing Orders are suspended can be discussed during the suspension.

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CONGRESS TRAINING

– MOCK MOTIONS MM1

Lady GAA Concert Congress notes:

The campaign to have Ballinasloe recognised as a place of outstanding natural beauty, which has been sustained and enhanced by the work of the President

Congress further notes:

The GAA has endeavoured to secure a Lady Gaga concert in Galway

Congress therefore mandates:

The President to seek to enhance the two campaigns in order to pump prime both, including up to half the Union’s budget on an innovative student led battle of the bands or jam session.

MM2

Delegate Precautions Congress notes

In the new programme for government published in 2011, provision was made for crossAtlantic trade relationships to be formally solidified, to more properly record political affiliations of business leaders, such as those which are made by Irish businesses at trade events and members of the US congress.

Congress asserts

If these protocols are to be effective, delegates, on trade missions will require these become enshrined in law, to ensure very friendly and constructive relationships

Congress mandates

The President and Welfare Officer to encourage delegates to any trade missions to remember they represent the whole nation, to seek to put Ireland’s interests ahead of political interests and to take all reasonable precautions to enhance our standing in the world.

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OFFICER REPORTS

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OIFIGEACH NA GAEILGE PEADAR DE BLÚIT

Seachtain na bhFreisir

Prior to the beginning of the academic year, I spent a number of weeks sourcing different materials from Irish language organisations to aid cumainn Gaelaigh in different MO’s during the different fresher’s weeks. I sourced a number of different materials for Cumainn Gaelaigh including discount cards, stickers, notepads and other things. Thanks must go to Conradh na Gaeilge, Seachtain na Gaeilge, Foras na Gaeilge and others for supplying these materials to Cumainn around the country free of charge.

Ábhar AMLÉ

A very popular material disseminated by my predecessor were the ‘Tá Gaeilge agam’ bands which I also sourced prior to beginning of the year. 10,000 of the these bands were ordered specifically for Fresher’s weeks, so that new members could wear them from the beginning of the year. However the order was far surpassed by demand and it is my hope that in the coming year a much larger order will be facilitated by USI, based on the demands of previous years and the fact that there is an indefinite life-span to the bands.

Oifigigh na Gaeilge nua

One of my priorities at the beginning of the year was to increase the amount of Oifigigh na Gaeilge in MO’s around the country. My test cases were intended to be DIT and QUB. The benefit I saw in increasing Oifigigh around the country was that year in and year out, there would be a definite presence and point of contact for Gaeilgeoirí on campus. The presence of Cumainn is fantastic but because of the infancy of some Cumainn the presence is sometimes not indefinite. Following discussions with the President of DIT, it was suggested due to the structure of their MO, the parttime nature of an t-Oifigeach Gaeilge would have been unworkable at that time.

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I also travelled to QUB to investigate the possibility of establishing an t-Oifigeach Gaeilge on their campus.

The general feedback was good and a framework was decided upon to present to their class-rep council. Unfortunately the proposal fell. However it is my belief the establishment of an t-Oifigeach Gaeilge in QUB is possible in the near future.

Traenáil na gCumann

One of my priorities at the beginning of the year was a successful Deireadh seachtaine traenála na gCumann. The event occurred during the second weekend of October and was attended by Oifigigh na Gaeilge and cumainn from more than 20 MO’s. The purpose of the weekend is two-fold. Firstly the clearer and more direct aim is to offer advice and guidance to cumainn and Oifigigh regarding how to go about their new roles. This requires a number of workshops on Friday and Saturday relating to the different ways in which to have a successful Irish Language presence on campus. The second aim is to give representatives from the different Irish language communities in MO’s a chance to network and bounce ideas off each other at the very beginning of the year. As a result there is an atmosphere of co-operation established rather than one of rivalry, which has proven to be detrimental in times past.

Oireachtas na Gaeilge

Shortly after the deireadh seachtaine traenála another central part of the Irish Language calender occured. Oireachtas na Gaeilge is a festival for Irish speakers held every year. Every year a large number of students make the trip to wherever the festival is taking place, this year was no different with in excess of 450 students travelling – the biggest number yet. Travelling students occupied every hostel available in Killarney. The students who travelled certainly made their presence felt. As with my predecessor last year I have reservations regarding the amount of spaces available in Letterkenny compared to Killarney this year, however it is my intention to contact a number of establishments in the coming months and ensure that we can have as many travelling to Oireachtas na Gaeilge 2012 as possible. Also this year at the Oireachtas, the first Díospóireacht na mac léinn in 20 years took place. This event was


co-organised by ourselves, Gael-linn, and Conradh na Gaeilge. The event was a huge success and it is hoped we can continue with it in years to come. Travelling students also showed a huge interest in it as they showed up in numbers to support their MO, as such it is my hope that the event will continue this year and into the future with the full support of USI.

Club Chonradh na Gaeilge

I have spent the entirety of the year working with Club Chonradh na Gaeilge in Dublin to encourage the promotion of their student night with a view to giving Irish speking students in Dublin and the environs a chance to come and practice their Irish in a enjoyable and relaxed atmosphere. In the course of the last year students from TCD, UCD, DIT, St. Pat’s, DCU, Froebel, Marino, NUIM, and Officer Board, have made full use of an Club to offer a central point to congregate in Irish and encouraged all to use what they have. As well as student nights Club Chonradh na Gaeilge made their facilities exclusively available for an Deireadh seachtaine traenála. It is my hope that at least one National Council that may be held in Dublin would avail of the facilities in Club Chonradh na Gaeilge.

Foras na Gaeilge / Maoiniú Chumainn Gaelaigh

In recent years it has been the practice of Foras na Gaeilge to award money to cumainn Gaelaigh on a case by case basis i.e. rather than awarding the money centrally, they gave it to individual MO cumainn. This year an agreement was reached with the Foras to establish a central fund to give grants to cumainn for their work during the year based on events, membership and continuity. Each cumann around the country had to submit an application to the Foras and money would be awarded thereafter. The hope is in future that this fund will be increased, this will depend on discussions with the Foras between now and January, as this is when their funding models are specified. This funding model is a positive step forward for USI and cumainn around the country based on the ad hoc basis, and uncertainty previously in place. The hope is that the money the cumann recieve can go towards development of cumainn on campus and MO Irish Language communities nationally.

Aontas Phobal na Gaeilge (APG)

This year a number of Irish Language organisations agreed to come together to present an alternative funding model to Foras na Gaeilge in the face of possible changes to funding for the sector. Conradh na Gaeilge, Comhaltas Uladh, Comhluadar, Glór na nGael and Seachtain na Gaeilge agreed to operate as Aontas Phobal na Gaeilge (APG) and launched in Galway earlier in the year. A number of Oifigigh na Gaeilge from different MO’s attended the launch to support the new endeavour. It is important that future USI Oifigigh na Gaeilge support this new organiation, as such it was important that such support for APG was shown by USI students.

SHAG Week

I was queried by an t-Oifigeach Gaeilge in NUIG at the beginning of the year regards the possibility of having SHAG week packs in Irish and English. While there was a better visibility of Irish on the packs, due to lack of available funding we could not have two seperate consignements of packs for the week. As already outlined I will be discussing a augemented model of funding from Foras na Gaeilge over the coming months with a view to disseminating all such USI materials bi-lingually, or with a heavier visibility of Irish.

Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga

Earlier in the year Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga was outlined as one of the ‘quangos’ that the government wanted to merge puportedly to save money. It was apparent from the outset that this move was little more than window dressing on the part of the Government, and a continuation of their degradation of Irish language supports. It was noted immediately by Conradh na Gaeilge and Guth na Gaeltachta, that no money would be saved by the move, and instead in the short term money would be lost. A protest was immediately organised outside the Dáil on the day of the announcement, this was followed by a campaign to garner support for Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga in some MO’s. A motion to support the campaign was passed at UCD National Council, and USI have worked in co-operation with Conradh na Gaeilge and Guth na Gaeltachta since.

Feachtas na n-ÁbharOidí

Another firefighting campaign which came to light recently the students teachers time in the Gaeltacht. Up to that point some courses required students to spend a certain amount of time in the Gaeltacht as part of their course, for which they received a grant. In the same vain as Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga it was decided this grant would cease and students would be required to support themselves whilst in the Gaeltacht – for what it is a vital part of their course. After being approached by representatives from nonMO’s I consulted with an Education working group at NC in Tralee, and National Council, where it was decided the Gaeltacht grant would be included as a topic for the Lobby of the Oireachtas in the coming weeks. Again like Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga this move was a direct attack against the Irish Language community and should be an ongoing campaign for Oifigeach na Gaeilge AMLÉ.

Ábhar OÉG

Another priority which I set out for myself at the beginning of the year was increasing the amount of subjects taught through Irish in NUIG. According to the stráitéis 20 bliain don Ghaeilge, NUIG has a special role in promoting the Irish Language amongst it’s students. One of the ways in which it is required to do this is the provision of certain subjects in Irish as well as English. In part with the OnaG in NUIG at the beginning of the year we began examining how to maintain and indeed increase the amount of subjects available in the two languages. As yet there has been little progress on

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the matter however I would implore the Oifigigh na Gaeilge of both NUIG and USI next year to continue this campaign into 2012/13. As it stands NUIG is not fulfilling its responsibilities to Irish-speaking students, and as such should be held to account for this. There is a significant body of support for such a move amongst academic staff in NUIG, with this in mind there is no reason further work on this issue should not avail of results in the coming year.

Seachtainí / Laethanta na Gaeilge

It was my privilege this year to be part of Irish Language weeks and days during the year. Unfortunately due to work obligations I only had the chance to attend events in the Dublin area. These events were very well organised, and in one instance contributed to that cumann winning the national award for best Cumann Gaelach. Irish weeks like these have in the past years helped to focus an MO’s attention on the Irish Language if only for a week, or a day. Their potential should be realised, and even SU’s in MO’s without an OnaG or functioning Cumann should where possible enlist the help of the USI OnaG to aid in the organisation of events to highlight the Irish Language on campus. In the past number of years cumainn have been established, and succeeded in place where there has been little Irish presence among the wider student populous. As such no MO should shy away from such events.

Feachtas Náisiúnta

During the National campaign I spent a good deal of time working on it with USI, taking a week off from work to do so. As well as encouraging cumainn to come out and support the march, I was on Raidió na Gaeltachta, Raidió na Life and TG4, almost every day in the lead up to the march detailing the campaign, and encourging people to come out and support it. I also spent a number of days going to MO’s to encourage their students to come out. I contacted Conradh na Gaeilge to enquire regarding the use of their building front as a site for a banner drop – a prime location situated on the corner of Stephen’s Green and Harcourt st.

Polasaí Gaeilge AMLÉ

I have been working for the last number of months on a Irish Language policy for USI. For years we have had a bilingual policy, however what this entails or mandates our Union to do in terms of the Irish language is not clear. As such I have spent the last while working on this policy so there is no ambiguity as what is expected of USI, notably an t-Oifigeach Gaeilge in the future. It is my sincere hope this document will be ready to be put to National Council before the end of my current term for agreement. While I have received great help and support during this year, this policy is of great impotence to USI in order to remove the ambiguity that exists between our national language and our Union. It is also my hope the policy will outline a clear job of work for all future persons who occupy this office.

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Raidió Rí-Rá

I attended a number of meetings of Raidió Rí-Rá throughout the year, and it is fair to say the station has seen great growth in that time. In the coming months it is hoped Raidió Rí-Rá will go live on DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) for a twelve-month-period. Raidió Rí-Rá was also live online again this year during Seachtain na Gaeilge, broadcasting live shows to its listeners via the website www.rrr.ie Another exciting step forward that has occured for Raidió Rí-Rá is the invitation we have received to go live on Saorview. The outworking of this has yet to be decided but there is no doubt this is a great step forward for the station and a great recognition of the work being done by those working in the station on a day-to-day basis.

Rith na Gaeilge 2012

Last month I, along with a number of others took part in Rith 2012. Rith 2012 was the second event of its kind entailing a relay/marathon around the island of Ireland, beginning in Gaoth Dobhair on March 8, and finishing on Inis Mór on March 17. The aim of Rith is to visit as many communities as possible over the week and a half and bring our national language to the people, raising awareness for the language. This year in excess of 35,000 people took part in Rith 2012. Rith is a great festival for many reasons among them it’s ability to bring communities together, encourage those taking part to get out and get active, and most importantly encouraging people to use the Irish Language. I hope in future USI will support Rith na Gaeilge to our fullest extent. It is only to our benefit that this support would be. We work very well with other Irish Language organisations currently, as such official endorsement of Rith in future only makes sense.

Seachtain na Gaeilge 2012

This year saw the 110 Seachtain na Gaeilge. This festival of celebration of the Irish Language has been a chance for speakers and supporters of the Irish Language to celebrate our national language. I have attended meetings all year in preparation for the festival, and in spite of ever increasing pressure on the sector, the festival itself this year proved to be among the most successful in recent times. Students right across the country undertook organising events to promote the language and indeed encourage others to get out and give their support. Seachtain na Gaeilge faces an uncertain future and I hope that USI and an t-Oifigeach Gaeilge will give our full support to ensure this festival continues to promote and encourage the Irish language. Like the USI motto says; ‘Ní neart go cur le chéile’. Seachtain na Gaeilge and USI can only benefit from enhanced co-operation something which I hope will happen in the coming year.

Árd Fheis

In the past month I have been busy working with cumainn and Oifigigh na Gaeilge to ensure a strong turnout at Árd Fheis Conradh na Gaeilge. The Árd Fheis is the National Congress of Conradh na Gaeilge, the people’s forum on the Irish Language. I have been encouraging students to attend the Árd Fheis so they may take part, and have the voices of Ireland’s youth heard in relation to


their national language. Our language needs the input of young energetic people to continue to drive the language through the 21st century. The Árd Fheis is a vessel for discussion and debate about how best to continue to build our language and as such it is important the strong participation of young people seen in recent years continues, and the views of Ireland’s youth in this forum are heard.

Comhdháil na Mac Léinn

Again this year an t-Oifigeach Gaeilge AMLÉ, was invited to organise a student conference at Árd Fheis Conradh na Gaeilge. In spite of the removal of the Irish Language standing conference I decided to accept the invitation as it sees a different group of students to those usually involved in USI National Congress offering suggestions and ideas about the promotion of the Irish Language among students. It is my hope the Irish Language standing conference will again be introduced with a view to giving a platform to the opinions of the students who most likely utilise the Ofigeach na Gaeilge. USI is an all-inclusive Union for all our members and as such we should be happy to encourage the ideas of students who would not usually take part in our activities.

Tionól na Gaeltachta

Tionól na Gaeltachta is an annual event bringing together Irish language activists from across the country to look forward and consider new, productive ways of promoting our national language. This year I intend to organise a workshop for Cumainn and Oifigigh na Gaeilge from all MO’s in order to review the work of the year gone by and offer suggestions for the coming year. The idea is, it will act as reflection of traenáil na gCumann which I have already alluded to. This idea has been toyed with in previous years but unfortunately has never been realised. This year I intend to organise a workshop with the express aim of improving the work which an t-Oifigeach Gaeilge AMLÉ, Cumainn Gaelaigh, and MO Oifigigh na Gaeilge have been involved in over the last number of years. Having spoken to a number of people there is already a broad welcome for the idea, and I believe this support will act as a springboard for the event this year, and in coming years.

Oifigeach na Gaeilge AMLÉ

This time last year when we gathered for this Congress there was a proposal in the new constitution to remove an t-Oifigeach Gaeilge AMLÉ. Since I began my term how, I had many discussions with officers from USI and different MO’s, cumainn Gaelaigh, and Oifigigh na Gaeilge from different MO’s to ensure that an t-Oifigeach Gaeilge would indeed remain. This campaign was a success and we now have a officer to be elected at this Congress. This however is not the end of the matter. I have mentioned on a number of different occasions in this report the challenges, responsibilities, and potential that lie ahead of this office in the future. To paraphrase a colleague from one of the Dublin MO’s it is absolutely my view an t-Oifigeach Gaeilge will, and should, not be a tokenistic office. There is as I have outlined in this report a large body of work to be done by any Oifigeach na Gaeilge. The weight of this workload should not be underestimated by USI, or indeed by the Irish Language community. Maintaining the office was not easy and anyone to hold the office in the future should remain aware of this, and USI in turn should hold that person to account.

Meán Cumarsáide

In the past 10 months I have cultivated a very good relationship with the Irish Language media. Raidió na Gaeltacht, TG4, Raidió na Life, Gaelscéal, Foinse, and Raidió na Life have all been more than willing to cover USI campaigns, whether they be Irish Language, Welfare, National, or indeed any campaign USI engages in. As yet I have not carried this relationship over from a personal one, to one with an Ceann Áras. It is my full intention to do so before the end of my current term. A positive relationship with the Irish Language media gives an extra platform to USI that it is only to our benefit to utilise. Again it is my sincere hope that this relationship will long outlive my tenure in USI and any future officer will make the most of the Irish Language media.

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WESTERN AREA OFFICER BREFFNI GORMAN

Introduction

The following report details the work I have completed to date in USI in the role of Western area officer. As word count is limited it is impossible for me to detail all the work since the beginning of the year so I have included a brief outline of all the main issues that were dealt with this year.

Officer training and bonding

Upon starting the position I underwent cross over training with my predecessor. Once we started into the year I went on officer bonding and attended an annual planning event with the other members of officer board. We also attended a communications course with Cara communications in Dublin to help with our presentation skills and public speaking.

Regional bonding

Once officers had settled into their new roles I made contact with all the colleges and organised a western area bonding event which took place in Bundoran Co. Donegal. Not everyone was able to attend but it was enjoyable for those who were able to make it. We spent a half day doing team building exercises and had some food after.

Area council

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The first area council took place at UOS in Cork. I asked all part time officers to come in and address the council and it was at this first council that people decided to organise a bulk buying meeting. The bulk buying meeting took place in NUIG the week following congress. Following from this I prepared a report up for all the colleges on the price comparisons that were discussed and it was emailed out to all the western colleges for use throughout the year. I think it was a worthwhile meeting and it is definitely something I think USI should look into further as there isn’t a lot of collaboration at the moment even

though there is a lot of duplication and this is one area USI can help unions save money. I hosted area council at every National Council since UOS as I felt it was the most effective communications tool for the area. I sent out an email when it was needed but I tried to hold back on doing this too often as feedback from members suggested that they weren’t reading them. I created the western area facebook group so people would communicate more instantly and discussions were feasible on this forum so it was better than a one way communication.

Annual plan

Before the students came back I tried to sit down with each sabbat in each college and talk to them about my role and ascertain how I could best help them out. One thing I learned this year is how different each college is and every day has brought a new challenge from at least one of them and I have meant an enjoyable year for me as an officer. Some colleges told me they didn’t see a purpose for my position in their college and I had to accept this and go along with it although now we have had a few months in the role I hope each college feels they have received value for their money as far as the western area officer is concerned. Following on from this I had officers submit their plans for the year ahead and I designed a western calendar of events for the year ahead. I think that the idea behind he calendar was initially good and people could see what other are doing, get ideas etc but I think for co’s to engage with the idea it needs to have a different angle expanding on the ideas If I could go back and do it differently I would create an area newsletter and give more detailed accounts of what’s happening in other colleges this would help people share ideas. I was able to draw up an annual plan from gathering all this information and this is what I based the rest of my years work on. The areas covered in the plan included: • Supporting and engaging with each CO in the West • Increasing USI engagement with students on the ground • Profiling and lobbying of TDs in the Western region • Delivery of full and part time USI campaigns on


• •

campuses in the West Affiliation campaign to Further Education Institutes in the West Promoting USI’s engagement with the external community in my region

The only area that hasn’t been touched yet is the affiliation of FEs. I am working with the education officer on this area and he has been attempting to arrange meetings with the relevant FEs. It is an area I hope will be resolved before the completion of my term as western area officer.

Grants and accommodation information evenings

Throughout the Summer I worked with the other members of Officerboard running grants and information evenings in my area. These evenings were hit and miss when it came to attendance. I think the meetings should go ahead but I think they should be more town hall style and address a wide range of issues not just grants and then maybe there will be a wider turn out. I attended fifteen meetings in total.

Welfare campaigns

There were a number of welfare campaigns throughout the year that I helped out and attended. I attended the Pleasetalk conference along with a number of my colleagues in the first semester. The next big campaign was for the deposit retention scheme and I joined lots of sabbats and Officerboard members in camping overnight on the lawns of the department of the environment. This was one of the first of the welfare campaigns that I helped out with during the year. I also held regional launches and we had the rent book launch in Galway. The event was a success with Threshold having a speaker there and the turnout was quite big as we amalgamated it with a grants information evening. GMIT and NUIG both attended the event. First Fortnight was the next big welfare campaign that came into the West. After this with the work load increasing in colleges people decided to vote against having anymore launches in the area. I attended Pink training to help the LGBT officer check people into the hostels. I attended some of the workshops and helped out where I could.

USI training events

USI hosted a number of training events during the year and I attended all of them. The first event was the entertainments training which took place over one day in Dublin. After this was activist training in Dublin. Since its establishment it has grown and grown but I still think there is more that can be done to leverage both USIs and the students gain from this weekend. Along with the other areas officers we delivered a module to the activists before they finished up at the academy. We spoke to the students about USI from our perspective as the people on the ground and gathered valuable information on promotions on site. We also built up contacts in each of our areas for use throughout the year with campaigns etc. Part time officer training happened alongside this event as it did last year and while I realise this is to save on resources there is more to be gained from separating

the events and USI giving more credence to the part time officers. This year from working with colleges it is clear that part time officers are doing a huge amount of work on the ground within their own COs and because they don’t attend national council USI has very little interaction with these officers. I attended the first aid training in GMIT.

Class rep training and class rep councils

Once all the reps were elected and class rep training events started I attended as many events that I could. This year officer board had a video made on what USI is about and we showed this to all class reps. I also attended NUIG convenor training. This was the beginning to the promotion of USI and this was one of the key areas I worked on this year. After the rep trainings I attended as many clubs and societies days as I could with a USI stand. The other area officers and I ran an ipad competition to attract people to the USI Facebook page as a means of promoting the organisation so we went to the clubs and societies days signing people up.

National Protest

To play my part in the National campaign I helped each campus promote the protest with the exception of NUIG as I was unable to travel to their campus on the particular day the promotion was organised. On each campus I travelled to I carried out class addresses, signing people up, giving out leaflets etc. If there were class rep meetings on I went along and addressed the reps. I helped to monitor the Facebook account and respond to any questions that arose about the march. To promote the march externally to USI I gathered the contact details for most of the main parishes in the West and sent on the details of the march to be read out at mass. I travelled up the night before the protest and met with the other members of officerboard at 9am before the protest for officerboard. I was a steward for the remainder of the day. I attended the sleep out after the march. Prior to the march the broken pencils campaign took place on each campus to highlight what would be a broken education system should the cuts go ahead. I was on campus in IT Sligo signing students up to this campaign and we had over 300 letters. The campaign continued on after Christmas and in January I attended the photo opportunity outside the Dept of education along with some other members of Officerboard and sabbats from around the country.

Nurse’s campaign working group

With the ongoing nurses pay issue this was one area that was important to the West this year with so many nursing colleges in the region. I called into the teleconferences and represented the colleges unable to call in at the time. I kept my colleges up to date as issues came up. I also spoke to reps in some of the colleges to highlight the issue.

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Regional protests

NWDTF

Voter registration campaign

Returning officer

Lobby of the oireacthas

Work experience database

As decided by NC each college would host a demonstration on the 24th of November. IT Sligo, GMIT and NUIG were the colleges in the West that went ahead with protests. I attended the GMIT and NUIG picketing of Derek Nolans office. NUIG Students’ Union in conjunction with FEE held another protest in Galway and this was a huge success. I attended the event on behalf of USI and marched with the large crowd who had shown up on the day.

This was a successful campaign last year so it was decided to run it again. The event was successful on each of the campuses and there was over 500 students registered across the west for the election.

There was a lot of work put into the Lobby and the profiling of TDs. As only one college submitted TD profiles to me I asked the equality officer to do some and I covered the rest of the region ad collaborated them for the lobby and had a lobby document ready for the representatives from the west. I also did up a guide on what the lobby was and how to lobby and sent it out to everyone. On the day of the lobby I was there with the other members of officerboard from 7.20am to 9pm. I spoke to many TDs on the day on the issues presented in the lobby document and I felt the day went well. In previous years there have been pictures taken of TDs and it was promised we would pass them onto them but this never happened so I sent the pictures out to the TDs and thanked them for coming. I also sent the pictures out to the delegates that were there. I think this helped to raise the profile of the event because pictures then appeared in local papers and on websites. Aside from TD lobbying the lobbying was ongoing throughout the year and I met with a number of TDs and spoke to them about the issues.

Case work

As already mentioned a lot of my work this year composed of dealing with case work in different unions. Some of the main issues were; Student accommodation going into receivership One of the first problems that surfaced this year for my colleges was student accommodations starting to go into receivership. Two colleges in Sligo experienced this problem and STACS in particular ran into difficulty with students arriving to move into accommodation that wasn’t furnished and the apartments didn’t have the basics such as running water. I tried to help them out as best I could and visited all other student accommodations in the area and asked for them to rehome the STACS students temporarily. This was unchartered territory for me as a student representative but unfortunately seems to be an issue that isn’t going away in the current economic climate and next years Officerboard need to take this on board. STACS have a motion into congress that will help COs in future if it is passed.

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In a previous job I was a member of the North West Drugs Taskforce, I was asked to remain on the education sub group in my new role with USI. I did so and have attended four meetings of the sub group. From attending these meetings I managed to set up meetings with LYIT and IT Sligo with the group and they organised some non alcoholic events for freshers week. The group want to build on this for the up coming year and want to invest more resources in the third level sector so the colleges may be able to get more awareness campaigns paid for.

I had the honour of being returning officer for AIT and STACS. STACS have now elected their first full time president. It was great to over see this happening this year and it was great to see such a positive step forward for the college and the student movement in the west.

One of the ideas I had this year was to create a national work experience database for students. My hopes were that it would be accessible through the USI website. More and help more students are struggling to get placement. The idea I had was that businesses who were capable of taking on students could advertise the placements here. I have done a lot of research into it and have raised it with OB but following on from this LYIT have asked that I help them put this in place on a local level so I am hoping this will be a pilot scheme that can be rolled out if its successful.

LYIT referendum

LYIT asked to come on campus to help them with the promotion of their referendum to allow them to get a new student magazine. This particular referendum was on its third attempt to be passed so I helped with the promotion and I also helped out with the admin side. Thankfully the referendum finally passed. Well done to all involved. One of my main areas of work was supporting officers at a local level and many tasks involved working with local COs and their colleges. I attended meetings with unions and their presidents, I measured mileage for students appealing grants cases, I helped on campus with local campaigns, I gave advice about local education cases; the list is endless of all the different tasks involved this year.

USI promotion and representation on the ground

One of the key areas that I wanted to improve on this year was USI representation on the ground. I have worked on improving this by;


Student engagement;

visiting Satellite campuses; this year I travelled to some of the satellite campuses around the region. I met with class reps and spoke to them about USI and I also spent my time on campus putting up posters about USI making sure that there was some branding on campus. I also left my business card where people would see it. As I already said I attended as many class rep training events as I could and after these were finished I attended class rep council to address students on USI work to date and answered any questions that they had. The town hall meetings were an extension of the rep addresses and these were hit and miss in relation to the crowds that attended but it were definitely worthwhile running the meetings. The other area officers and I will be drawing up a report upon completion of the meetings and arranging feedback to those who asked for it. AIT welfare officer asked me to be a guest on his radio show and I went along and spoke about USI and my position. This is one area I could have improved in and I would recommend that USI looks more into their engagement with local union radio stations and local papers. Holding regular area councils was one way I hoped to further increase communications with the local unions and their officers. There have been eight area councils so far and while attendance has not always been great I think it was a positive move forward for the region as there was regular contact with the officer and I used the meeting to make sure the part time officers engaged with the West. USI ambassador; this was an idea I had to increase USIs presence on the ground on campus. The only CO that went for the idea was GMIT Galway and an ambassador was elected there. As the person involved was a full time student it was hard for them to dedicate time to the position but I found it useful having the extra point of contact on the campus. This is an avenue I wish to explore further after congress with the hope other college s will take on the idea.

Social media and the viral campaign;

as I have an interest in viral campaigns I asked to be involved with the post grad viral campaign. I wrote up two stories for the viral video to be based on and presented them to national council. I also wrote up the entire logistics for running a viral campaign. Again with an interest in the area I asked to be the chair of the social media working group. I did considerable research into the USI media strategy and surveyed all colleges in relation to their social media and their interaction with USI. Following on from this I did up a report on the findings and brought this to the working group for review. I am still currently waiting to meet with the social media consultant.

USI awards;

I felt it was important that the USI awards started up this year with all the bad news about I felt it was important to have some positivity involved in student activism. I am happy to say following a considerable amount of work the awards are going to go ahead this congress with ten awards categories. Hopefully this pilot will be successful and it is something that will grow annually.

USI Plus;

I included USI plus on my campus promo stands when the initiative was still active. There were issues with the scheme this year so the other area officers and I met with campus.ie to try and over come these issues but unfortunately the scheme failed. I don’t think it should discourage National Council from trying such a venture.

Work with the part time officers

As already mentioned I included collaborating with the part time officers in my annual plan for the year. I brought the officers into area council so they could talk to the officers about their campaigns and I encouraged the colleges to book workshops at the first area council. I wrote a piece for the ender equality officer on my experience as a female in student politics for a campaign gender equality campaign.

Provision of Youth Information Services

I was contacted by Roscommon Youth Information Service which is located in Strokestown. They hosted the grants evening for Roscommon and while we were there the manager spoke to myself the Equality officer and the SU president of GMIT about the cut in funding they were expecting. I wrote a piece objecting to the cuts on behalf of the students using the centre.

Conclusion

This year has been a challenging year in USI. A lot of work has happened but it is clear from the feedback from students on the ground there is still a significant amount of work to be done. I have been honoured to serve a year on officerboard as western area officer and I would like to thank all of my colleges for being such fun to work with during the year. I am extremely proud of the western region and the passion that is there to fight on behalf of students. I hope that next years officer board serves the area well and I want to wish all those starting in to new positions the best of luck and I also want to wish those moving on all the best. I just want to mention the southern area officer and particularly thank her as she has been a strength to me throughout the year. This year has been by no means perfect and I recognise there are areas that I can improve on and I look forward o doing that and I look forward to what the rest of the year brings.

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SOUTHERN AREA OFFICER KATE ACHESON

Introduction:

During my term as Southern Area Officer, I have enjoyed working with the 8 different Southern Colleges. Each Students’ Union was welcoming and great to work alongside. My role varied from MO (Member Organisation) to MO as different levels of work was required in each Students’ Union. From organising Class Rep Training events, to explaining the various sabbatical roles, to acting as a mediator when dealing with internal conflict within SUs, to communicating from USI regularly to each Students’ Union. I have written a short explanation of the work carried out under each heading, but I will elaborate on anything you may be unsure of or have questions on.

Guide to USI:

During the summer months I met with each Students’ Union Sabbatical Teams and took them through the key areas of USI to ensure they got the most out of the year ahead in terms of USI. I met with each officer during UOS to assist them with any queries they had.

Preparing my Annual Plan:

At the start of the year with the assistance of the Deputy President I compiled some of the key areas I wanted to cover at the start of the year. Areas included were; Grant & Accommodation Information, Effective Lobbying of TD’s in the Southern Region, Support for merging Students’ Unions, Assistance with the roll out of the USI Extra Card, Re-affiliation Campaign, Exam Stress Campaign, Class Rep Training Support.

Southern Area Bonding:

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I organised a bonding outing for all 23 Sabbatical Officers in the South in August 2011. We went to Ballyhass Lakes Adventure Centre where we met as a group and part took in interactive outer pursuits to ensure we all became acquainted with one another for the long year ahead and to establish a good base for working relationships.

Southern Area Councils:

In order to keep the working relationships up within the region I ran 7 successful Southern Area Councils during our National Council weekends. We had full agendas that discussed many items both locally and nationally and SU’s getting advice and ideas from one another.

Southern Area Facebook Group:

Following on from a discussion about communication between me and the Southern Students’ Unions I formed a closed group on Facebook for the 23 Sabbatical Officers. This was used regularly throughout the past 9 months for updates, ideas and information that was shared between the Southern Region.

Grant & Accommodation Information Evenings:

I completed 10 different Grant & Accommodation Information Sessions over a ten day period. (Killarney, Tralee, Newcastle west, Limerick City, Dungarvan, Waterford City, Kilkenny, Carlow, Clonmel, Thurles, Clonakilty and Cork City). In the run up to the Information Evenings I provided a comprehensive email to all Southern Sabbatical officers in terms of Check List for the evening, Location, time, Grant Application Guidance Notes, x2 briefing sheets from the USI Welfare & Education Officer Respectively, Grant Changes post Budget 2011, Dublin City VEC Presentation, USI Grants Poster etc. I assisted some CO’s with the media Coverage of the events and I kept on top of local SU’s in terms of updating Social Networking sites. I liaised with the Education Officer in terms of venues and the initial preparation of the events and assisting in any way I could.


MO Engagement: • • • • • • • •

WIT Students’ Union IT Carlow Student’ Union Carlow College Students’ Union Limerick-Tipperary Students’ Union LIT Students’ Union LSAD Students’ Union UCC Students’ Union IT Tralee Students’ Union

From July to date I have covered a lot of ground with each Students’ Union in the Southern Region, I have listed some of the work I undertook with the

Southern Students’ Unions:

Class Rep Recruitment Process, Organising/Helping out at Class Rep Training days, guide to USI, individual Sabbatical Officer Role support, 3 Regional Launches, LT SU/LITSU/LSAD SU Merger, Re-focus Exercise in December/January, Constitutional Review with IT Tralee SU, Institutional Review Report Guidance, Interviewing and hiring staff with ITC SU, reviewing staff contracts and setting up a job description for a new staff member in LITSU, support and help with Silent Protest in WITSU, Students’ Union Budget support and guidance, assisted with Carlow College Students’ Union Vacancy, organised promotional material ideas and planning with the UCC SU, group workshop with WITSU, run through of the National Campaign strategy with each MO, advised the Ents officer with Ents Training in UCCSU, supported LTSU with plans for a strategy on internal difficulties, met with 3 local TD’s along with LTSU, staged a demo outside local TDs office with WITSU, attended Students’ Union Executive Meetings, attended Class Councils and presented/talked at them, National Protest planning and support and rallying students, assisted with the roll out and running of campaigns on various campuses, ran Town Hall Meetings on MO campuses for grass root engagement.

Class Rep Training Events:

Area Officer Meetings and Teleconferencing with the Deputy President:

During the first couple of months of the year the Area Officers met together to discuss our various regions and our main aims and objectives within our roles. We then held phone conferences between the Western, Eastern Area Officers and I and the Deputy President to give each other updates on our various regions and job descriptions for that coming week.

Regional Launches:

In conjunction with the Welfare Officer I ran and assisted the local SU with USI Regional Launches. The first one was in August with WITSU and the USI Rent Book Launch. The second launch was with the UCC SU and the USI Mental Health Week Launch and the third launch was with Carlow College SU and the USI SHAG Week Launch. Each Launch was very successful and was covered by local media and had a healthy number of students in attendance. I really feel the Southern Regional Launches brought a lot of activity to the SU’s and created more USI awareness on campus.

USI Awareness & Promotion on Campus:

On each of the campuses I held a USI Stand with information and USI merchandise and in a location where I could answer any questions students had on the USI. The purpose of these stands was to create awareness on the ground level of the affiliated colleges. Similar to the Western and Eastern Officer I ran a ‘Win an iPad’ Competition to attract students to the stall and to give them a hand-out with information on the USI. This hand out was the one supplied to all CO’s to use in their SU Hand book. I also engaged with students in terms of the ‘Support the Deposit Protection Scheme’ by giving any students who hadn’t yet picked up their copy of the USI Rent Book and getting them to sign the slip to add to the pile for the Department of the Environment.

I assisted Students’ Union with the recruiting of Class Reps, with the setup of the Training Event, the activities during it and evaluating it after. I prepared a Class Rep Training Day Checklist and Tips for new Sabbatical Officers to use. Along with either the President or the Deputy President we attended each Class Rep Training day where we showed a 10 minute video on USI through the years, we presented a 20 minute slideshow and took any questions and answers from the floor.

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Non-Affiliated Students’ Union Engagement:

During the past 9 months I have liaised with each Students’ Union in the three non-affiliated colleges; Mary I, CIT and UL. Along with the President/Deputy President at the very start of the year we visited the Sabbatical Teams and went through the pros and cons of the organisation and answered any questions they had. Throughout the year I maintained contact with them, particularly with ULSU. I included all 3 teams in on our National March and kept them informed with all the necessary details of the Protest day. I also joined LASU (Limerick Association of Students’ Unions) when they held their regional march in Limerick City after the USI National March.

TD Profiles and the Lobby of the Oireachtas Semester 1:

I liaised with the Southern SU’s regarding the completion of the Southern TDs profiles in the run up to the roll out of Stage 3 of the National Campaign in terms of each CO and some of their students visiting their local TD Constituency Clinics. I compiled these files and encouraged Officers to read up on their local TDs while compiling Files myself. I also sent each SU a copy of ‘How to Lobby Effectively’ in the run up to the Lobby in Buswell’s Hotel.

Lobbying Local TD’s:

I organised four meetings in County Tipperary for LTSU to meet with TDs to discuss some complications resulting from the LIT – Tipperary Institute Merger. Along with the two officers from LT Students’ Union we met; Independent TD Michael Lowry, Fine Gael TD Tom Hayes, Fine Gael TD Noel Coonan and Labour Minister Alan Kelly. We discussed 10 main issues that came about from the merger and we asked each TD to give us their position on the registration fee and student grants.

Entertainments Forum:

I chaired the Ents Forum that were held during the National Council Weekends. We discussed Fresher’s Week Events, Raise & Give Week Events, College Balls etc. At the start of the term I compiled an Entertainments Contact List for each SU with the point of contact for Ents from each MO. I also gathered all the Raise & Give Week Dates from each MO and shared it with the group. In the run up to the Raise & Give week season I compiled a mini checklist with the main areas and topics that needed to be considered when covering all aspects of the Charity week from; Charities, Litter Control, Community Awareness, Community Garda Liaison, Booking Acts and bands.

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USI Plus Card:

After gathering feedback in September from the Southern Students’ Unions along with the other Area Officers I met with Bob Coggins of Campus.ie. I brought all the opinions/issues from the Southern Colleges that I had gathered at the Southern Area Council in DkIT National Council. I followed up with both The President and The Deputy President on this matter and I also briefed the Southern Officers with what went on at the meeting. Before National Council at DIT, I held the Southern Area Council where the 7 Stages of the National Campaign were top of the agenda. Together, as a region, we brainstormed, planned and organised the work that needed to be carried out by each CO and discussed the weeks leading up to the National Protest.

National Campaign:

I worked closely with each MO from the National Council in DIT up until the National Protest: checking the progress they were making, making MO Visits to do Class Addresses, Rallies, and Signing Students up and highlighting the importance of the Protest. A few days before the National Protest I sent each Officer in the South a 2 page Checklist for the Protest in terms of last minute preparations and guidelines, to Steward briefing, to advice for the actual day of the protest in terms of contacting local media etc. After the National Protest I worked with local MO’s who were holding Regional Demos/Protests up until Budget day.

Activist Academy and Pink Training:

Along with the Eastern and Western Area Officers we held a module at Activist Academy with the students from our three areas. We spilt them up into the three regions and worked on ideas for promotion of the National Protest and ideas for the day of the Protest. We also spoke to the students about USI and our roles as Area Officers within the organisation. We gathered contact lists from those who attended for future national events. I attended Pink Training in NUI Galway and helped the LGBTRO with the registering of students in hostels in the city and any other assistance she required throughout the very successful training event.

Exam Stress Campaign:

For this campaign I am assisting the Welfare Officer in the roll out of it. I researched some key areas with welfare officers from across various MOs in terms of what they have provided before on their campus for Exam Stress Campaign, what they definitely didn’t want to see in the USI packs and any additional ideas they had for the campaign. Following a meeting between the Welfare Officer, a representative from Spunout.ie and myself we drew up a plan for the run up to the Launch in terms of social media and traditional media. I am looking after the traditional media aspect of the campaign.


Town Hall Meetings:

USI ran Town Hall Meetings/Questions and Answer Session in each affiliated College in Ireland. In the South I have completed 5 Town Hall Meetings to date. In preparation for these Town Hall Meetings I asked Gary&Colm to prepare posters and order labelled USI Clothing for the events. I have also discussed the running of these events with the Southern colleges, the running order and advised them on publicity for the event to ensure maximise student attendance. When all 8 have been completed in the South I will sit down with The Western Area Officer and the Eastern Area Officer to what worked/what didn’t work in the Town Hall Meetings.

Re-Focus Exercise for Sabbatical Officers:

I carried out a refocus Exercise in any MO that requested it in the South. We spent an afternoon reviewing the previous 6months and looking at what needed to be changed or done differently for the coming 6 months. We looked at areas that needed to be mapped out carefully for their Cross over Manuals. We then looked at the next 6 months so the Sabbatical Team knew what was coming up for each of them and we each prepared to help in terms of SU Campaigns and event.

USI Referendum Campaign in UCC:

I attended UCC Students’ Union Class Council to speak on a motion that went council on whether or not USI should be allowed on campus during the 2 election days. I organised the running order for Sunday 4th – Tuesday 6th March where USI Officer Board along with Election Candidates were canvassing door-to-door in 11 Student Residencies on the first day and on the two voting days I prepared the information and plans for the USI ‘YES’ Campaign Team on campus in terms of the voting hours, the locations of all five polling booths on the first day and the eight polling booths on the second day. We received a 70% ‘Yes’ vote for UCC SU to remain affiliated to USI.

MO Elections/Hustings/ LT-LITSU-LSAD New Constitution:

During Southern SU Election Periods I will be running some of the Hustings operations on behalf of the SU. I will be on various MO campuses preparing for and helping during their elections. I will also be presenting to 4 lots of Class Reps from the LT, LIT and LSAD Campuses on the new Constitution when it is complete to make sure they are aware of the changes to take place next year and that they are fully informed when they are voting on the referendum.

Conclusion:

Thank you for taking the time to read my report. I have highlighted the key areas that I have worked on and completed during the past 9 months as being the Southern Area Campaigns Officer. I have loved working with the vibrant, enthusiastic and hard-working sabbatical officers and their teams in the South. The South really pulled together as a team this year, bonding with each other, supporting each other, working together and befriending each other. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to look after this year. They pulled together for any USI Event that was taking place, between the National Campaign, the National Protest, Regional Launches, always attending National Council and more importantly Southern Area Councils! We still have 3 months ahead of us to complete any unfinished work, to welcome the incoming sabbatical teams and to prepare guides and information for next year.

Congress 2012:

I supported various MOs with motion submissions for Annual Congress editing and proof-reading their submissions. I also advised them to review the pre-clár when it came out. I requested that the ‘Learner’s Guide’ to be sent out to MOs and I supported any MO who needed help with bringing their delegation up to date with the running order of Congress. In conjunction with the area officers we are holding the ‘Area Olympics’ on the second night of Congress.

USI Awards:

In conjunction with the Western Area Officer we submitted a proposal to Steering Committee on holding USI Awards during Congress 2012. Upon exception, we discussed with our respective areas if they would like to see the event go ahead. With a very positive response we compiled a document with 10 different categories to be judged on for SU’s to nominate their colleagues or student reps to win an award. We aim to expand this event next year if it goes down well this year.

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EASTERN AREA OFFICER

SUZANN

The Eastern Area Officer is a unique role within USI allowing for the officer to make the most of the position. Knowing that I was working with a highly knowledgeable team all of whom had gained experience in their local Students’ Unions – I did sometimes feel I was out of my depth, but after stepping out of my comfort zone this passed. The year began with going through my manifesto, contacting the colleges in the East and planning for the year ahead. It was clear from the onset that many of the colleges in the East were well established and would call for help when they needed it. This meant that I could work on my work plan and help other members of Officerboard on projects that they were working on from the Rent Book Launch to the SHAG Launch and all that happened in between it has been eventful. After taking office it was clear that another Special Congress would be looming before my term was over. Following weeks of consultation periods a date for Special Congress had been set -18th January 2012. For years the position of the Eastern Area Officer had been questioned. And so it came as no shock when the new Constitution passed, that the role of the Eastern Area Officer would cease to exist once my term is over. Throughout my involvement in USI it was evident that the organisation in its current format was no longer reaching its full potential, and finally USI can now build on its merits and prove what a credible organisation it is.

Member Organisation Visits:

Since the beginning of my term I have visited each MO on a number of occasions. At the beginning of each Semester I met with the teams to go through the relevant dates and to identify when they may need assistance. On a weekly basis I have kept in contact with the MOs in my areas through phone calls and emails outlining the main issues/events. On request I went to MOs when necessary. Some colleges required assistance during exam time to help with the SU stands providing students with refreshments and stationary, in the lead up to various campaigns, constitutional reviews and RAG Week ticket sales.

Grants and Accommodation Evenings

I travelled with other members of Officerboard to over ten of these evening throughout the East to inform both students and parents about applying for a grant and giving them so tips and advice about accommodation. As preparation for these evenings I prepared packs for the Area Officers which included Grants Forms, Guidance Notes, Posters, pens and note pads. For the Eastern Area I prepared a document which included the contact details of all the County Councils, VECs and TDs.

Non-affiliates:

At the beginning of my term it was my intention to arrange meetings with the following colleges –RCSI, American College Dublin, DBS, Griffith College, St. Patricks College and DCU. It was envisaged that these meetings would inform these colleges about USI, what the organisation does and the benefits of USI.

RCSI:

On numerous occasions I emailed and phoned the Students’ Union in RCSI.To date I have been unable to make contact with the SU there.

American College Dublin:

The Equality Officer and I met with the Director of Students Services. This was an initial meeting to inform him about USI. During the meeting the Director raised a number of issues surrounding International Students who make up approximately 70% of the student population in the college. The Equality Officer and I compiled the information on a number of issues that were raised. As the Equality Officer sits on the Board of ICOS he raised these issues. On numerous occasions following these issues being raised with ICOS we were unable to contact the Director to inform him of any outcome.


DBS:

I had an informal meeting with the Events and Welfare Officer who informed me that there are approximately 9,000 students in DBS and that they have no Students’ Union. Following this I contacted the Officer to arrange a meeting to inform the team about USI, the benefits of the organisation and how it could assist them in establishing a Students’ Union. After a number of conversations the Officer informed me that this was not something that they wished to pursue.

Griffith College:

On several occasions I have contact the Students’ Union in Griffith College to schedule a meeting with the team. The President was meant to arrange a meeting but this never took place after many follow up calls.

St. Patricks College:

The Deputy President and I met with the President of St. Pats at the beginning of the year. This was a very positive initial meeting. Following this I kept in contact with the President and had hoped to schedule a second meeting with him and his Deputy, but this did not happen. After a number of phone calls the President informed me that the SU would not be considering affiliating to USI.

DCU:

At the start of my term I contacted the President of DCUSU to introduce myself and to arrange a meeting with the SU team. As DCU ran a referendum last year the likelihood of another referendum being run in the year 2011/12 was unlikely, unless it was carried out using an alternative voting method. Earlier this semester, Lenaghs College (college of Beauty, Make-up and Holistic Therapies) contacted USI on students request to become affiliated members. Lenaghs College awards CIBTAC and ITEC Diplomas and Certificates. I have been speaking with the Education Officer in relation to the accreditation of these courses. Once this has been determined and clarified I will be able to pursue this request.

Ballyfermot College of Further Education:

The President of Ballyfermot College contact USI about becoming a paid member of USI. Currently Ballyfermot College is a member of USI however it has not paid its affiliation fee in a number of years. Following a number of calls, the Equality Officer and I met with the President of the Students’ Union outlining the benefits of USI. The President informed us that he would arrange a meeting with the President of the college in relation to the affiliation fee. The President of the SU met with the President of the College earlier this semester. On request of the SU President I prepared a brief document outlining the benefits of USI and explained the affiliation fee for Colleges of Further Education. I am currently waiting to hear back from the Students’ Union President.

USI Promotion:

The promotion of USI throughout the year was one of the main priorities of the Areas Officers and Deputy President. Since September this has included attending Orientation/Inductions Weeks, Freshers Weeks, Class Rep Trainings and through Town Hall Meetings in Semester 2. During Orientation/Induction Weeks and Freshers Weeks I arranged with each Member Organisation to have a USI information stand. At these stands there was USI branded materials for students to take, this was an affective method of promotion. During my time in each MO I informed students about USI –what it does and what the benefits are of being a member and informing them about the legal case that USI was taking against the Minister for Education in relation to the changes to grant. Throughout September and October I attended each of the Class Rep Trainings that were held in the East along with the Deputy President and President where necessary. USI took a different approach to Class Rep Trainings this year incorporating a short video of the history of USI since it was established in 1959. This created an atmosphere while providing students with essential information about USI. In semester 2 it was decided that USI would hold a Town Hall Meetings in MOs. These meetings have informed students about USI and have given students the opportunity to ask questions and inform us on how USI can improve –such as communication through social media.

Lobby of the Oireachtas:

Prior to the Lobby of the Oireachtas I was involved in preparation for the day. The day of the Lobby I met with a number of TDs to raise the many issues that faced students in the upcoming budget –Budget 2012.

National Campaign:

From National Council in DkIT it was clear that the escalating National Campaign was going to be a priority for the weeks that followed. The stages for the campaign were approved and a follow-up Presidents Working Group meeting was arranged where the final logistics would be determined. The campaign was broken down into a number of stages –letter writing, emails, twitter, newspaper adds, national protest and demonstrations. In order for some of these elements to happen I had to –compile a list of TDs in the East and distribute them to the relevant MOs to contact and compile TD profiles, compile the Twitter accounts for the relevant TDs (Fine Gael and Labour) which would be used for the online campaign and TD images which would be used for the national advertisement in the Irish Times and the Independent. I arranged meetings with the non-affiliated colleges to inform them about the National Campaign. This included showing them an example of the advert that would be published along with an estimated cost. Information on t-shirts along with cost and design without the USI logo was also discussed. Both colleges agreed to get involved with the campaign. Once figures of the advert and t-shirts


were clarified I informed the Presidents. I contacted several allocated TDs to follow up on the letter that they were sent on the 12th of October to find out what their position was on the 2 questions that were included in the letter. Will you vote against any increase in fees or a graduate tax? Will you vote against any further reduction in the student grant It was evident that TDs were not willing to give their position on the above questions. The week prior to the National Protest I carried out many MO visits including NCI, DkIT, UCD, and TCD to assist them where possible with the campaign. This included Class Addresses, letters to TDs, postering and selling t-shirts. I also attended DITSU Governing Council with the USI President. On the day of the March I worked alongside members of Officer Board and Stewards to ensue that student’s safety was a priority on the day. Following the March, I attended the Sleep Out that night with other members of Officer Board. The following morning we dismantled tents and ensured that the area was clean. The next step of the campaign was the Funeral for the Death of Education. In preparation for this demonstration I contacted the colleges in the East, made banners and sourced items for the mock funeral. I also assisted with the preparation for the demonstration outside the Department of Education and attended on the day.

Welfare Campaigns:

Throughout the year I assisted USIs Welfare Office in a number of campaigns which he ran since July. These campaigns included the Rent Book Launch and Sleep Out, First Fortnight, the Guinness World Record Attempt for the most amount of people to contribute to a story, Movember, the Regional Launch of Mental Health week with Maynooth Students’ Union and SHAG Week where over 35,000 SHAG Packs were packed and the National Launch of SHAG Week.

Pink Training:

Over the course of the weekend I registered delegates in Sleepzone and NUI Galway and assisted the LGBT Officer where possible throughout the weekend.

Special Congress:

I worked on the delegate cards for the event, assisted other members of Officer Board and Steering with the room set up and the registration of delegates.

USI Referendum IADT:

The USI Referendum took place in IADT on the 16th of February. The day before the Referendum, myself, the Deputy President and other members of Officer Board canvassed in IADT promoting the benefits of being members of USI. This allowed students who had any questions or queries to ask a member of Officer Board, who would be able to deal with the issue, giving USI the opportunity to inform its members what it is that USI does for them at a National Level.

National Charity Regional Collection Day:

It was decided at the Eastern Area Council in UCD that the colleges in the East would participate in a collection day in Dublin City Centre to raise money for USIs National Charity for the year –Pieta House. Following the Area Council I prepared and circulated a briefing document to the Sabbatical Officers in each of the Member Organisations about the collection day. The Welfare Officer and I are working together on coordinating the event. A number of dates were proposed to the Area Council in IT Tralee and it was agreed that the date for the collection day would be the 22nd of March. Unfortunately there was delay with the permits and the collection day will now be taking place after Easter. A full action plan will be devised in the coming weeks to outline what has to be completed. It is hoped that both students and active societies will take part on the day.

Mature Students Conference

In recent weeks I have been working with the USI Equality Officer to coordinate USIs first ever Mature Students Conference. This included confirming speakers, distributing posters for the event and finalising the timetable for the event. And so this completes the last report of USIs Eastern Area Officer. I would like to thank all the Member Organisations in the East for their cooperation throughout the year. Your enthusiasm, dedication and commitment to the students you represent hasn’t gone unnoticed. To the USI Officerboard of 2011/12 thank you for all the help and support you’ve given me, it hasn’t gone unnoticed and I am forever grateful. Being one of the two members of Officerboard who was never a sabbatical officer before taking office, you all had faith in me and pushed me to go above and beyond my limits. It has been a pleasure to be part of such a credible organisation which fights day in day out for the students it represents nationally.


LGBT RIGHTS OFFICER

SIOBHAN MCGUIRE

Gender Recognition Legislation: I attended the launch of the eagerly awaited report of the Gender Recognition Advisory Group, set up by the Minister for Social Protection to investigate how Gender Recognition Legislation should be written up. GR is the name given to this process by which a transgender person has their acquired gender (the gender the person is now living in) legally recognised and they are presented with a gender recognition certificate. Ireland is incredibly far behind on this matter, the spearheading if the process to bring in GR legislation began in 2009 when Dr Lydia Foy took a legal case to have her birth cert changed to recognise her true gender. Following the launch of the GRAG (Gender Recognition Advisory Group) report I attended a community forum run by Transgender Equality Network Ireland. The Trans people and allies came together to discuss the recently launched GRAG report, gender recognition and what comes next. The report contained many suggestions from the GRAG that were presented to Minister Burton. The suggestions covered a huge area of issues, everything from everything to Marriage to the age a person may apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate and the criteria for receiving one. Many issues contained in the report are contentious and Ireland is so far behind with the legislation. It is hoped that the legislation will be published by the end of 2012.

CO engagement:

One of the best things about the LGBT Campaign within USI is its grassroots engagement with students. The campaign over the years has directly engaged with students on a variety of issues and worked in conjunction with these students to campaign. One major way this works is through Pink Training but also by providing n the ground support for LGBT societies and SUs to support their LGBT socs. I always try where possible to provide as much support as possible. I like to visit student on campuses to get feedback on the campaign and actively help within their colleges to keep the passion for fighting for equality for all people but as my role specifies lesbian, gay, bi and transgender students primarily. Unfortunately as a part-time officer I am not and have not always been able to visit when requested to but try to allocate enough of my time to MO visits and working away in the office. There is on college in particular I feel I should give a special mention to; IT Sligo. For the last number of years there have been attempts by students and the SU to set up an LGBT society but for a number of reasons they haven’t been successful. Last September I travelled to their Clubs and Socs day and with their Equality Officer, Marian, and some students helped sign up over 50 people. They sent a medium sized delegation to Pink Training in November and have been doing incredibly well since starting up. They have regular events and even held a protest when Lucinda Creighton Td visited recently (Lucinda Creighton made some awful comments about same-sex couples marrying and about parent’s rights). They are a wonderful example of how easily people can pull together to stand up for and support LGBT students and that you don’t have to go to a big university in a large city to be able to be open about who you are. I have also done various things like contributing to MO publications like UCC LGBT’s magazine, LGBT Writes and various MOs freshers guides and other publications.

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Local LGBT info nights and parent nights:

I had the pleasure of doing two info nights organised by local youth services in two rural areas for parents/friends of LGBT young people. The first one was organised by County Clare VEC in Ennis. The evening was organised to address a lack of information about LGBT issues within the greater Clare region, and specifically within local youth groups. There were a number of people invited to speak on various issues such as coming out, sources of support for LGBT people in Ireland, the role of the USI and specifically the role of the LGBTRO in providing information and support for both college societies and students. In addition, the evening provided a platform for the discussion of issues impacting upon LGBT youth in the region. Following the scheduled addresses, the floor was laid open for a question and answer session, which allowed for a more interactive forum. This session proved most constructive, allowing those in attendance to gain insight into the work of the USI and the LGBTRO, and for myself, as Rights Officer, to gain a greater understanding of the issues that affect those living in County Clare who identify as LGBT. I was also invited to Tralee by Jigsaw Kerry, a mental health organisation in Kerry to speak at an adult information night on LGBT issues. It was organised in a local hotel and had a number of speakers on various issues to talk to parents and families who were there to gain information on how to support their LGBT friends/ family members. It proved very useful and I got a lot of positive feedback.

Sexual health booklet/ SHAG materials:

This is a project that has taken far longer than expected and hoped for. I had hoped to have it finished for September but it was halted for a number of reasons. Firstly I have tried to make it inclusive of all genders and sexual orientations by using language that doesn’t exclude but that is no easy task and has taken lots of research and work with help from a number of external parties. I strongly believe that where possible everything should be as inclusive as possible. I believed that the material I had worked was inclusive to an extent but it became clear that it wasn’t as inclusive as possible especially for Trans people so I began the task of changing it around again and by the time it was nearing completion other things took over. It will be finished hopefully by the end of April and will be ready for distribution to MOs. Unfortunately for some MOs that will be the end of term but I feel if it is done right it will be something that will be useable for a few years and will hopefully always be in demand so it is not something that will be a short lived campaign. I was asked by a number of MOs to send some additional materials for their SHAG weeks to cater for their LGBT students. I sent down booklets, leaflets and various other supplies to the MOs who requested stuff.

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Lobby of the Oireachtas (i):

Along with the rest off Officerboard and those from COs who generously gave their time to attend, we lobbied members of the Oireachtas all day from 8am-9pm in Buswells Hotel. The issues were contained in the lobby document: (i) Student Contribution Charge (ii) Student Assistance Fund (iii) Grant (iv) Graduate unemployment. I lobbied: • Ray Butler TD (Fine Gael, Dublin West) • Seán Conlan TD (Fine Gael, Cavan Monaghan) • Regina Doherty TD (Fine Gael, Meath East) • Seán Kenny TD (Labour, Dublin North East) • Senator Katherine Zappone’s assistant (Independent) • Pat Breen TD (Fine Gael, Clare) • Michael Creed TD (Fine Gael, Cork North West) • Senator John Gilroy (Labour, Cork) • Brendan Griffin TD (Fine Gael, Kerry South) • Senator James Heffernan (Labour, Limerick) • Mattie McGrath TD (Independent, Tipperary South) • Senator Tony Mulcahy (Fine Gael, Clare) • Senator John Whelan (Labour, Laois) • Denis Naughten TD (Fine Gael, Roscommon South Leitrim)

LGBT Societies Manual:

I have completed an LGBT Societies Manual that I began work on in the earlier part of the year. It is something I spent a lot of time working on but got sidetracked by the National Protest and Pink Training. It has everything from running Rainbow Weeks to hosting events etc. It will be a useful tool going forward and will take contain lots of helpful ideas for running societies/starting them and keeping them going. I believe it will help MOs out hugely as it is a comprehensive guide to organising, supporting and campaigning for LGBT students on and LGBT issues locally. I will be distributing hard copies to each MO after Congress as they are still to be printed.

Rainbow Weeks:

I visited a number of MOs Rainbow Weeks and helped where requested with running talks/workshops as well as finding speakers. I have been helping with finding speakers, giving ideas and planning etc. Recently I hosted a panel discussion run by DIT LGBT Society on: Homophobia in Irish society. The panel members were Senator Katherine Zappone (an independent Senator who famously has taken a case with her partner Dr Anne Louise Gilligan to have their Canadian marriage legally recognised in Ireland), Anna Rodgers (an Irish Producer and Director who has Produced a number of documentaries such as Growing Up Gay and Hold on Tight two documentaries about LGBT young people (GUG) and about same sex couples PDA’s (HoT).The last speaker was Brian Duggan, an openly gay lecturer from DIT who as a student of in the 1990 helped set up the DIT LGB Society. I also ran a coming-out workshop on both UCDSU’s Rainbow Day in semester one and Rainbow Week in semester.


US Embassy engagement:

I was in contact with some employees from the US Embassy in Ballsbridge and attended a number of meetings and functions, this was following on from a landmark speech on LGBT issues globally made by Secretary Clinton to the UN (which followed a memo by President Obama) the US has vowed to focus on LGBT rights and issues on an international level. As a result of this promise embassies all over the world have been meeting with representatives from various LGBT groups within these communities. I was contacted by a secretary from the Political Affairs Section who had been advised by Senator Zappone that it would be good for us to meet. I met with Mr Rendo to discuss the issues facing LGBT students in Ireland and the issues I feel are faced more broadly by the community. We discussed many issues including those internationally. Following on from my meeting with Mr Rendo I was invited to a gathering by the Director of the Office of Public Affairs at the Embassy. A number of other LGBT organisations were invited and we discussed the issues facing our community as a whole. I felt it was a productive evening and an important step in coming together as a community.

Ally video campaign:

I am working with Hugh Rodgers, a filmmaker who filmed at Pink Training; on a video as part of an ally campaign similar to the BeLonG To Stand Up campaign. The footage which Hugh has just finished editing is a compilation of students from all across the country speaking on their experiences of being lesbian, gay, bi or trans in school and college and how they were treated. The idea with the video is to show people watching it (hopefully allies) that giving support to their LGBT friends and peers is the difference between a tough life and a good life for people. The idea came from a Welfare Working Group which happened in DIT, it is somewhat like an “It Gets Better” video but is aimed at showing that you as a person can make it better.

GHN safer sex campaign:

The Gay Health Network (which the USI LGBT Campaign has been involved in for a number of years) has a new campaign with safe sex messages targeted at younger MSMs (men who have sex with men). This is a project that has been going on for some time and has involvement from various organisations including USI and BeLonG To.

LGBT Noise Protests:

14th. The march has been organised to highlight the lack of full equality for same sex couples in having their relationships legally recognised.

USI Pink Training:

Pink Training took place this year from the 18th-20th of November in NUI Galway. This year we had over 360 students, far surpassing the number of 250 from last year. We had over 40 workshops and talks on various issues from Mental Health, Sexual Health, LGBT History to being an LGBT ally and so many more. On the Saturday evening we held a Chinese lantern launch to mark Transgender Remembrance Day, an annual memorial day to mark and remember the lives of so many Trans* people across the world who have died or been killed. We had over 30 speakers and I was delighted to have so many delegates take part. It was particularly great to see smaller colleges bring big groups, bigger groups than ever before and to have two NUS-USI Officers there to take back what they saw to the students of Northern Ireland. We had more mature students and LGBT allies there than ever before, I think it was without a doubt the most diverse it has ever been and I hope this will long continue, it was something I promised when seeking reelection so I was delighted to be able to deliver a bigger, better event. I was very pleased with the event, it was the largest USI event (with the exception of protests) for a number of years and the largest gathering of LGBT Students in Europe and I hope it will continue to grow year on year.

USI National Protest:

I was a steward at the National Protest on November 16th in Dublin City. I was stationed on Nassau St before the march helping the UCD drop offs find their way and directing other students to Parnell Square. Having been on Officerboard last year and seeing how the march ended up it was great to see how the event was handled without trouble this year and certainly it got the coverage it deserved on the day and in subsequent days. Certainly it was great to see so many students come out to voice their anger at the possible increase in fees and to have the media spotlight remain on those students who came and protested peacefully.

IGLYO:

I was in regular contact with the LGBT societies around the country to help promote the March for Marriage on August 14th in Dublin ran by LGBT Noise. It’s an annual march to highlight the lack of equality for same-sex couples. There was a large student presence at the march with many LGBT societies marching in groups with their banners and also marching behind the USI LGBT banner.

I attended the IGLYO (International Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Youth and Student Organisation) General Assembly in Amsterdam where USI’s membership of IGLYO was ratified. It is the first time USI LGBT Campaign has been a member of the organisation. It is an international umbrella organisation for LGBTQ young people and students to get involved in. They do a huge amount of work on lobbying, policy and advocating for all LGBT people across the world.

I attended the LGBT Noise protest outside Dáil Eireann on the 14/02/12. The protest was organised to announce the date of their annual March for Marriage which will take place this August. I have spent quite a bit of time promoting the March for Marriage on Sunday, August

The weekend proved very useful, I met with representatives from youth and student organisations from all over the world and had ample opportunity to discuss LGBT policy in their countries. I had an opportunity to spend time with my counterpart from NUS

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LGBT, Alan Bailey discussing campaigns in our various colleges etc. USI’s membership of the organisation was also ratified. I believe being a member will hugely benefit the LGBT campaign in the future. There was a capacity building conference on the week before the GA and a UCC student Laura Harmon attended that as a member of USI and fed back the info that she gained. It provided a wonderful opportunity to network and learn about capacity building nationally and internationally.

Affiliation referenda:

I was on campus in both IADT for the referendum put to the students on their membership of USI. From speaking to students the feedback was largely positive and the students on polling day voted to remain in USI which is great as they are a wonderfully vibrant college who contribute well to being in USI. I was also on campus in UCC for one day of the referendum. There was great feedback from most students with some having some concerns and queries about USI and what we do. There was also a lot of support from the LGBT students who were keen to stay in USI because of Pink Training (always great to see). The students of UCC voted to stay in USI.

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EQUALITY OFFICER GERARD GALLAGHER

Visibility on Campus

When I began in USI in July one of my main objectives was to increase the visibility of the Equality Campaign on College Campuses. I began by integrating a USI Equality advertisement as part of the USI Wall Planner which was distributed to member organisations.

USI Equality on Campus

I believe that having a presence on campus is very important for the Equality campaign as it helps to make students more aware of its work. For this reason when requested I travelled to various member organistation to promote the USI Equality Campaign in various ways throughout the year. These included awareness raising stands and activities such as wheelchair basketball.

Universal Periodic Review, Your Rights, Right Now Campaign

On the 6th of October 2011. Irelands Human Rights Record was put to the test under the United Nations Universal Periodic Review in Geneva Switzerland. This process is commonly known as the UPR. This process allowed all member counties of the UN to question Ireland on its Human Rights Record. Each UN country is put under scrutiny every four years. In the build up to the campaign USI Equality was very involved with the awareness of the raising and the initial consultation process.

Grant Information Evenings

Report Submission

Referenda

Media Engagements

Along with the rest of Officerboard much of the month of August was taken up with travellng the country for the Maintenance Grant Information Evenings. This process allowed new members of USI engage with USI Officers

During my term in USI we have had two affiliation referenda. In the build up to these I was on campus in UCC and IADT to provide information on USI,

Pink Training

I assisted the LGBTRO with the preparations for and during pink training.

USI as a member of the cross- sectoral steering group, with the 17 other member wrote a submission for the “Report of Irish Civil Society� on Irelands human Rights Record. This was presented to the Irish Minister for Justice and was used by his department in advance of the Review in October 2011.

As part of my work with the UPR, there was a substantial number of media engagements in advance of the review in order to inform the public that the review was taking place. This is because I was selected as a case study to promote the UPR. In October 2011. I travelled to Geneva to assist the Irish Council for Civil Liberties with a documentary which was produced about the entire process.

Meetings with NGOs

Along side this I had meetings with a number of national and international NGOs while in Geneva including the international Disability Federation. I was also in a position to have an informal meeting with the Minister

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for Justice and the Chairperson of the Irish Human Rights Commission to discuss various issues, including the Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities. It is hoped that Ireland will be in a position to ratify this convention before year end once the government passes mental capacity legislation for persons with intellectual disabilities which is currently making its way through the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Disability Campaign

When I took office in July I was elected to the board of Ahead, the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability. This year the board has faced a number of tough staffing decisions as a result of funding cuts, I believe decisions we have taken as the board will make this essential organisation sustainable for the future.

Student With Disabilities Forum

In October 2011 we had a Students with disabilities forum in a Dublin hotel. In previous years, these forums had been opened to cover all aspects of college life as a student with a disability. This year we felt it would be more useful to engage with specific topics. One key area of interest to us was around disability and going on erasmus. Over the last number of years the number of students going on erasmus programmes continues to increase, unfortunately this increase is not represented in the same way for the students with disabilities cohort in our institutions. Currently less than 1% of those going on erasmus register as having a disability. In an effort to address this issue we ran a forum entitled Study Abroad without limits. This aimed to see why students with disabilities are not going on erasmus and come up with recommendations to increase the uptake. It should be noted that there is currently a fund for students with disabilities who wish to study abroad at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Since this fund has been established it has never yet been fully utilized. It is important that this fund is used to ensure that it is not discontinued in the future. A report has been produced following the forum. We are currently working on implementing its recommendations

Better Options 2011

I assisted with Better Options 2011. As well as being there on the day to meet with President Michael D Higgins. I wrote a number of articles for various publications to encourage students with disabilities to “tick the box� when filling out their CAO form to acknowledge their disability. There are a number of positives to disclosing your disability at CAO stage, firstly it may mean that you can enter to college course of your choice on reduced points through the DARE Scheme. This is the Disability Access Route to Higher Education. Disclosing disability also goes some way to reduce the stigma which still surrounds it.

Building the future

In November 2011 Ahead had a careers event for students and graduates with disabilities. I was on hand to to promote this event. There were number of leading multinational corporations at this event offering internships and advice for graduates with disabilities.

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Fund for Students with Disabilities

There are currently 7600 students with disabilities in Irish Higher Education Institutions. This represents 6% of the entire college population, The fund for students with disabilities is the key fund for students who enter thirdlevel institutions. It is allocated through the National Access Higher Education Authority. Initially USI was calling on Government to maintain this fund at currently levels. Just prior to the first lobby of the Oireachtas it emerged that there was a significant underspend in the fund for students with disabilities. The resulted in a substantial re allocations of funds in budget 2012. I have some concerns as to why this underspend has occurred as students with disabilities are being told that there is not enough money to support their needs. In recent weeks the National access office has announced a review of the fund. There is also a need to carry out a longitudinal survey to assess whether the level of supports that students with disabilities receive continues to improve.

Disability Allowance

In Budget 2012 we saw proposed cuts to the Disability Allowance for young people aged between 16-24 years. Following widespread national outrage, the government announced a pause of these cuts. USI has met with the Minister of social protection and her staff as part of a review of the system.

Willing and Able Mentoring Lobbying (WAM)

WAM offers internships for graduates with disability. I have lobbied for its continuation, and meet the Minister for Jobs in relation to same.


International Student Campaign

In July I was co- opted to the board of ICOS, the Irish Council for International Students. Throughout the year the board have had to make some very difficult decisions in light of budget cuts of 40%. ICOS is the only independent body which is currently in existence to campaign for the rights of international students. Currently it relies of funding from HEI membership subscriptions. the remainder is funded from the Irish Aid fellowship programme. Current funding methods are not sustainable. As a Director I have informed the board that USI believe that ICOS must search for additional funding sources. I have suggested that it investigates the feasibility of charging a small membership fee to students when they register in HEIs. This would give ICOS a steady source of income and independence from the HEI and Department of Education which is essential.

International Student Forums

We had two international Students forums during the year. The first of these forums was held in the Mansion House in November. We had 60 students from 13 different countries. This was a fantastic event. The purpose of the event was to listen to international students and ensure their voice was heard. This is essential for implementing and designing policy. We had a similar forum in Cork in February for the southern region. There were around 30 students in attendance at this event. Both forums were funded by the Department of Education and Skills following a successful application for funding by USI. USI has also secured funding for the forums for 20122013.

Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB)

At the forums a number of attendees raised issues they have had during the year with the GNIB. These included long waiting times, refusal of entry with a valid visa, the fact that many students have to travel to Dublin to complete the immigration process. I have raised these concerns with Civil Servants in the Department of Education and Skills.

Unaccredited Colleges

During the year it has emerged that a number of colleges had established themselves recruiting international students to come and study in Ireland. Students pay money to such colleges prior to being granted a visa. The government will not offer students a visa if attending such colleges as their courses are not offered by accredited institutions . In some instances students have discovered on arrival that the college the paid money to did not exist. A number of accredited colleges have come forward to offer places to some of the affected students. ICOS and the HEI and DES strongly recommend that students use a bondsman to ensure they are protected. I have lobbied for this to be mandatory so that all students are protected. I am assured that this problem will be resolvedonce the QQAI Bill is passed into legislation.

International Student Video

This year USI and ICOS applied for funding for an International Student training DVD to be produced. As part of the funding application we had to produce a substantial document to detail to purpose of the training DVD. We also had to detail costs for filming production etc. Following review of our proposal by the Department of Education and skills we were granted funding for the entirety of the project. As part of this project international students from many different countries will be interviewed about their experience studying in Ireland. These interviews will be recorded. During the interview different topics of importance will be selected for discussion, these will include issues such as accommodation, cultural challenges, academic experience etc. This information will then be collated on a DVD in such away that it can be used by Students’ Unions, HEI Staff and ICOS for International Student Awareness. Filming will start in Mid April.

International Student Drop in Centre

In recent years ICOS have seen a significant increase in the number of students who arrive at their door in need of assistance. In some cases this may be to do with issues with their host college. Currently ICOS do not receive any funding for the provision of this essential service. For this reason ICOS and USI applied to the DES for funding for an International Student Drop in Centre. The Department of Education and Skills approved funding for one year. Regrettably as they could not guarantee funding on a long term basis both parties deemed it to be unwise to create a service which we could maintain for one year. South Africa- Ireland Student Leaders Programme Talks have begun with the University of South Africa about the prospect of begining a South Africa- Ireland student leaders programme. The purpose of this programme would be to forage links between the student leadership in Ireland and South Africa. The possibility of a small number of South African delegates attending Union Organisational Seminars 2012 is currently under investigation.

Gender Equality Campaign

In July I was appointed by the President as USI representative on the Public Awareness Sub-Committee of the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, Last year USI was awarded funding for an awareness raising campaign. This year I was tasked with ensuring that this money is used to make the student population in our member organisations more aware of intimate partner and sexual violence. Speak Up Against Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) In October 2011 USI launched a campaign in all our member colleges to encourage students to speak up if they know someone who has been affected by intimate partner or sexual violence.We wanted to target the bystander to ensure that we did not make things more difficult for people who are affected by IPV and sexual

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violence. We began this campaign with an artwork competition to get people to think about what IPV and sexual violence meant to them using the slogan “if you see something, say something”. We also distributed wristbands to create awareness of the campaign.

Female Participation Strategy

The Gender Equality Campaign has been working on a Female Participation Strategy throughout the year. This has now been produced and awaiting approval by National Council.

Mature Students Campaign

During my term USI obtained a seat on the Board of Mature Students Ireland, MSI for the first time .Mature Students Ireland (MSI) is a national network of Higher Education Institutes in Ireland working for the improvement of services for mature students. MSI membership includes Mature Student Officers, Mature Student Access Coordinators and others working for the welfare of mature students in Irish Universities, Institutes of Technology and Colleges of Education. This has allowed USI to be more in touch with the needs of our mature student members. Older and Bolder Courting Hearts and Minds In February USI assisted Older and Bolder with their seminar and activism through the ages. This seminar examined how older and younger generations can work together to achieve positive aging. USI led a delegation of young people at this event. The event was addressed by President Michael D Higgins.

Mature Student Conference

This year USI hosts a conference specifically tailored for Mature Students on Saturday 24th of March 2012. At the time of writing preparations for this new flagship in the USI calendar are on going. It is hopped that this event will be very successful. The items that will be covered include work shops on life as a mature student and parent, budgeting and personal debt, minding your mental health and running a successful mature student society.

National CampaignStop Fees, Save the Grant

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As directed by National Council I along with the other members of Officer board spent much of my time working on this National Campaign. There was a great deal of work with this. It began with the Lobby of the Oireachtas. This was followed by the National Protest on November 16th. There was a great deal of preparation in the build up to this. For the 2 weeks prior to the march I travelled to various colleges. This was to assisted them with the “on campus” promotion in the lead up to the National Protest. On the day of the March I along with other members of Officer board stewarded the crowds and assisted in countless other ways. On the night of

the protest we also had the sleep out. I assisted with the preparations for this. As part of the National Campaign we had a number of photo ops, such as the mock funeral. I assisted with these in various ways.

Equality Working Group

I would like to thank the Equality Working Group for their Work during the year. Throughout the year they have worked to further the message of USI Equality in various ways. The contribution during the year is greatly appreciated. The Equality Working Group Consists of LGBTRO Siobhan McGuire, Gender Equality Campaign Co-Ordinator Pádraig Rice, Mature Student Campaign Co-Ordinator Patrick Maher, Disability Rights Campaign Co-Ordinator Antonia Virovska and International Student Campaign Co-Ordinator Caitlin Sherry.

Conclusion

I wish to conclude by thanking my fellow members of Officer board for their hard work and dedication during the year. It has been a pleasure to serve the Students of Ireland


WELFARE OFFICER

SCOTT AHEARN

USI Mental Health Roadshow Concerts – October 10th to 13th

Upon my election as the incoming USI Welfare l wanted to set about a new approach to the current mental health campaign. I discussed the idea of a creating a format with See Change and First fortnight and after a lengthy meeting we came up with the road show concept. This had two themes the first would be to have a discussion/ talk on an area relating to mental health and myself and See Change will assist in working with SOS and with RTR in relation to the I See a Darkness documentary. The second theme would involved a fun element which would be a concert that first fortnight would work with the hosting CO on. The band was Republic of Loose. I succeed in getting three host MO’s, the four being UCD, GMIT (Galway & Castelbar) and WIT. Similar to the Guinness World Record Attempt this project took about 6 months of development and continuous work in making it work. As a whole the project was a huge success. The mental health talk was very well attended across the country and had a positive impact upon the people who attended the talk. The concert element of the campaign had it’s up’s and down’s which is putting it lightly. It worked very well in one college ands not well at all in another. However the biggest difficulty regarding the campaign was between Mo’s and First fortnight. This was raised to See Change where it was dealt with. The overall idea of the campaign is something l am working on keeping it going next year and to develop it even further which l will be working with my successor on. I hope to create a mental health package deal which colleges who are members of USI will benefit from and build up the welfare element of USI to a whole new level.

Guinness World Record Attempt – October 26th

One of the first projects l undertook back in April 2011 was to work with See Change in beating a Guinness World Record. The originally idea came from a meeting between myself and Kahlil Thompson, Campaign Manager, and after a bit of research we were set on the target of beating the world record for the most number of people to contribute to writing a story. I approached See Change about Trinity been the venue and after a number of proposal written we finally got the go ahead from the powers at be in TCD with the support for TCD Students Union. Credit for the support, without it we would have been no where. The partnership was created between USI, TCDSU, Fighting Words and See Change. The current record stood at 854 and after 6 months of planning and 12 hours of standing in Trinity grounds to get student to participate in the record attempt we succeeded in getting 958 people to contribute to writing a story and beating the Guinness World Record. It is important to note that the theme for the event was to tackle the stigma that is attached to mental health. We succeeded in getting a huge amount of publicity surrounding the event and the theme of the event was well delivered. See Change & I had arranged for a large number of mental health organisations, as well as other students from other colleges, to participate and support the event. All the work and effort paid off in the end and contributes hugely to the USI mental health campaign.

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Mental Health Packs/ Week

Since April I have been working with Reach Out and Heads Up in securing a partnership in establishing new mental health packs. Not many people will know but the old FREE packs that were developed were stopped and it was one of my major priorities in developing a new Mental Health pack for USI and our members to replace it. This was achieved by September and we set about seeking additional funding. ESB Ireland said they were unable to due to a back log but would be interested in seeing how the packs turn out and would be interested in looking at funding in the following year. The packs design and content were signed off in mid October and it consisted of an envelope packed with a postcard, bookmark, pen and badge. The 20,000 packs were packed in DIT Cathal Brugha Street on November 10th and 11th. Huge thank you to DITSU and Fiach O’Neill. They donated a huge amount of hours which allowed the packs to be sent out in time for colleges for use in their own mental health weeks. The feedback l received from colleges was that the new packs went down really well. EBS Ireland have also come back to us and said they were very impressed with the packs and would like us to submit an application for next year which l will have submitted by the end of April with the hope of additional funding of about 10,000 euro. It is important the note, the old FREE packs costed about 20,000 euro plus where as the one l developed this year was in the region of 7 euro. Huge savings. In relation to mental health I had the national launch for USI mental health in UCC on Monday 21st and Maynooth SU hosted the regional launch for the east. Joan Freeman, CEO of Pieta House, Derek Chambers, author of the National Strategy on the Prevention of Suicide and Collette Ryan, Project co-ordinator of Heads Up, were all present at the event at the UCC launch. The event was well attended and was picked up some local media. 78 Chinese lanterns were lit at 6pm to represent all young people who died by suicide last year. The event was beautiful and made quite an impact.

Mental Health Directory/ Hoodies & Mental Health Wristbands

Over the summer months l achieved in getting support and commitment from See Change on three initiatives brought to them. They cover the costs of hoodies with the See Change and USI branding on them for each welfare officer across the country. We got 17,000 fabric wristbands that would be distributed across the country in September for each college to hand out at the start of the year to encourage students to make a ripple on the see change web site. These wristbands were very popular and were used again at the USI Mental Health Concerts in October. The last item and most important, they allowed a member of staff to assist me in creating a Mental Health Directory which was the first of its kind and detailed all external mental health organisations across the country and was distributed to welfare officers on the 10th of October to highlight world mental health day.

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Mental Health Reform & Lobby

As mental health was my top priority l was involved in establish links with mental health reform. This was done with their petition which was asking for people to sign up and by doing so they would send a letter to their local TD’s in relation to the mental health budget and asking for it to be not cut. The petition was circulated by welfare officers across the country and achieved well over the 10,000 they hoped to sign up. I also met the Minister for Mental health on three different occasion in relation to youth mental health, mental health for second level schools, the appointment of a mental health director and funding for mental health within National Office of Suicide Preventation (NOSP). The outcome, 9million was put into NOSP which was a huge success during one of the worst budgets to hit us!

Please Talk & The expansion into Northern Ireland. •

• • •

The Please Talk second forum took place in UCD on 4th of Aug and had 25 welfare officers attending along with student support staff from some colleges. The plan for the day was for each college to develop their Mental Health campaigns for the coming year. The keynote speaker was Justin Brophy from the Irish Association of Suicidology. The event was hugely successful and all welfare officers left with a much stronger idea how their mental health campaign was going to take shape for the coming year. We will be establishing a master calendar detailing what all colleges are doing. All the please talk materials were sent off for printed, delivered to DIT and were packed and sent out to all Colleges across the country in September. I assisted Inspire Ireland in the proposal for additional funding for Please Talk for the next 3 years from the HSE which was submitted in November. On November 28th USI in association with NUSUSI launched the Please Talk Campaign. This was a huge day for the campaign as it now welcomes in 200,000 students to the service. The event which was held in Belfast Met and was attend by SU officers across the country, had excellent speakers from students who have experiences of mental health as well as staff members who work in the area. After the event a high level member of the department of health acknowledged the campaign and made a commitment for mental health within third level colleges to be included in the national strategy for the department of health. This in itself would be a huge achievement for NUS-USI as it’ll allow for the department to work effectively on the issues surrounding mental health within the age bracket of 18-24. I have been working with please talk developing the new campaign that will be launch in late March. The campaign we are using is basing itself from the inspirational campaign “It gets better” which was used for LGBT. Our Mental health will be “Who did you talk to” and we’ll be looking for students to enter a video about a time they spoke to someone which will give an inspirational story about their experience.


I am assisting with the 5th Birthday celebrations which are set for April 27th where we will be highlighting the success of please talk over the past 5 years. The key note speech will be delivered by President Michael D Higgins. This will be a crowning moment for Please talk to look back at the 5 years and the continuation we have made towards youth mental health.

SEXUAL HEALTH SHAG Week/ Roadshow/ National Launch

Sexual Health Advice and Guidance week was set for February 13th to 17th. This year will see the campaign contain a roadshow element to the campaign which is worked in conjunction with Think Contraception. The roadshow will consist of two Eco-cabs (Branded) promotional team visiting four colleges to raise awareness of sexual health. The colleges are DIT, UCC, IT Carlow & NUI Galway. I have worked with each of the colleges in their activities and to ensure everything goes smoothly. I will also be helping with the local union to get local media out on the day so their activates are covered. Think Contraception will be handing out condoms aswell as the SHAG Packs. The national launch itself will be taking place in DITSU Bolton street on 13th of February and Carlow College hosted the Southern area launch. On a side note, l was successful in securing about 6,000 euro as sponsorship for SHAG which bought the cost of the campaign significantly down.

Irish family planning association

l have been able to secure workshop modules to be done in conjunction with IFPA. They will be travelling to five different colleges over a 3 week period for colleges to help raise awareness of IFPA and sexual health. It further reinstates the strength of the sexual health campaign. The relationship between both organisation with USI becoming official members of the IFPA and l have been active on their board this year.

Shag Packing – UCD 27th – 30th

From the 27th to the 30th January l coordinated with UCDSU the packing of 40,000 shag packs. A huge thank you to UCDSU for allowing us to pack in the UCD Student center and to everyone that was able to donate their time in packing the packs. All the packs were sent out on the 30th January three weeks in advance of USI Shag Week.

Cervical Cancer HPV Vaccination

Having met with point of care on the 6th of October where we discussed a new campaign to promote the use of the HPV vaccination. Point of care are a sister company of MSD. We looked for CO’s who are interested

in having point of care to come on campus to offer a health stand manned by nurses offering information to students, free Information seminars, competition with students to generate awareness and a facility to sign up for vaccination days on campus. The HPV vaccination costs about 700 euro, point of care offered it for about 250 euro. They will also provide the vaccination on campus over a 4 month period. This will allow a student to pay for the vaccination in instalments. This is a great service which will save women lives.

Sexual Health App

I have been working AidWest in the developing a sexual health app that can be download by students for free. The app is finally finished and we hope to have a nation wide launch for it in the coming weeks. Welfare Officers will be informed of the promotional materials they will get to in order to increase the awareness of the app so students will download it. The app itself contains helping information regarding STI’s, Sexuality, STI Clinics, Contraception’s, Myths buster and how to keep the passion in a relationship. Promotional materials will be sent out again for the start of term in September.

TRAINING Brief Intervention Training/Sexual Health/ Mental Health first Aid/ MABs Module

I established Brief Intervention training and Sexual Health training for officers on the 1st and 2nd December. The HSE are providing the Brief Intervention training for officers and l was able to get them to do the training free of charge. This training will cover aspects of understanding and awareness of alcohol abuse within our society. Screening, exploration of current practices and officers will be trained in the SAOR model. The Sexual Health training is provided by Irish Family Planning Association and would cost 130 euro per person taking part. However, l was successful in getting funding from MSD who are now covering the cost for 22 officers. The training will cover all aspect of sexual health going from STI’s, contraception to abortion and to understanding HIV. Officers will also be trained in how to deliver a workshop and will be presented with a display kit, which they can bring away with them. I also set up Mental Health First Aid training for all welfare officers in August. This two day course covered all aspects of mental health. Officers were trained in intervention and in assessment in terms of casework. They gained a better understanding of correct procedure when referring students for assistance. It was held in NUI Galway and proved to be an excellent training session for welfare officers. Some of the topics the training covered was Alcohol & Drugs, Anxiety, depression, self harm, psychosis and dealt with attitude. The last training event held was a MABs module at the DKIT National Council.

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Top Up Training

On August 5th and 6th Welfare Top Up training took place in UCD following the Please talk Conference. 20 Welfare Officers took part in the training cover, which covered issues such as: • • • • • • • • •

Casework Drink Aware – what their plans are and how they can work with CO’s See Change – the up coming plans and how they can assist CO’s BodyWhys – information session and introduced CO’s to Pro Youth initiative Social Media – how to maximise social media to your advantage MABs- money management One in Four - sexual violence and abuse Sexual Health Movember – introduced CO’s and get them on board.

There was no cost for any of the speakers and the training event proved to be a very enjoyable and beneficial weekend for the Welfare Officers.

ACCOMMODATION Deposit Protection Scheme/ Rent Book

The Rent Book has taken a large amount of my time during the summer months. The rent books arrived in the USI HQ on Monday, August 8th and sent out to all CO’s by August 9th. Note that the Rent Book now had a new use. I have inserted a new petition in it, which l hope will engage students in relation to the Deposit Protection Scheme. Just under 6,000 petitions out of 15,000 were returned which was a huge achievement. Another new thing was f or the first time doing regional launch’s on our Rent Book campaign and these were held on August 15th in WIT in the South, GMIT in the West and NCI in the East. Threshold Chair, Aideen Hayden, launched the Rent Book in the East and members of the Threshold team will be launching the ones in the South and the West. On the 14th of September, the President and I met with the Special Adviser to the Minister of State for Housing & Planning. Overall, the meeting was very positive and the Government is committed to introducing the Deposit Protection Scheme in line with the Programme for Government. The PRTB have been asked to re-examine how a deposit protection scheme would be implemented and to investigate which form it would take (i.e. a custodia system or an insurance based system).The Minister expects to have an interim report from the PRTB by the end of October. We also raised the issue surrounding License to Reside in the Section 50 accommodation and the fact that students in this accommodation do not have the same level of protection as regular tenants. I have met Labour TD Ciaran Lynch, made a presentation to the joint orieacthas committee on the issue of the Deposit Protection scheme and oversaw the tendering of the cost analysis report from the PRTB Board. In the coming year it’ll be a telling to see if we get the introduction of the Deposit Protection Scheme and it’s very important for USI to maintain its campaign for the coming year.

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Threshold

I have met with Bob Jordan, Director of Threshold, & Senator Aideen Hayden regarding the relationship between Threshold and USI. We will be running an awareness campaign towards the end of April & start of May to inform students of their rights and if they run into trouble what they should do. We are also looking at setting up drop in clinic for September in Galway, Cork and in Dublin and could further the relationship both organisations and also benefit the membership from having a drop in clinic over a two period in September where students can get the correct advice and guidance when it comes to renting a house.

Student Assistance Fund

The Student Assistance fund is one of the most important resources a welfare can use during their time in the Students union in assisting others with their financial troubles. From the onset l set wanting to assist welfare officer best l could. I sent around the guidelines document for the student’s assistance fund which would enable them to understand the fund in greater detail. I compiled a document which analysis how 8 colleges ran and administered the fund their colleges which would enable a college to see what they could better and different in comparison to other colleges. I ensured that the SAF was included in the Lobby document which was used in October. Overall, the unexpected happened the SAF was increased by 5 million which was a huge amount and allow colleges to deal with the growing number of applicants to the fund.

Exam Stress Campaign

Over the past number of weeks I and the Southern area officer have been developing a national exam stress campaign. The main aim of the campaign is to 1) Create a community among students that they are not alone 2) Know what supports are there and 3) Get students planning for their exams. The campaign will take two forms, social media campaign and then followed by the materials which will be sent out to colleges. Spun Out. ie has confirmed they’re involvement and will be taking over the filming of the edit of the video’s which will help and generate a social media campaign. We are working on the script on each of the video’s and we’ll be having a one day filming in mid March. USI will be looking at providing study calendars and pen’s that can be used by MO’s in promoting their own exam stress campaign aswell as the national one. We hope to official launch the campaign on April 9th and run on for the entire month of April and May.

Student Parent handbook

I have been working with Crisis Pregnancy Programme in the creation of a student parent hand booklet that will aid both staff and students in colleges. The booklet was based off the work from Mary I and will be developed into a general third level booklet that can be used as a resource for students and staff in guiding them. It is expect to have this booklet completed before the summer and ready for the following year as work will be ongoing.


Movember

On the 3rd of Movember in association with UCDSU we ran the launch of Movember. The event proved to be very successful and enjoyable. A large number of colleges undertook the campaign which l was delighted to see however we had difficulty in getting materials. I was in constant contact with Movember in sorting the situation. The problem was resolved, however l have informed them that the current system they are objecting isn’t working and they have to review this as it’ll only damage them in the long run. Last year just about 1500 students registered to the campaign. This year they have hit over 12,000, which is a huge success for the campaign.

Pro Youth European project.

Since May I have been working with Orla Mc Loughlin on the new Pro Youth Initiative that is there to assist young people who suffer from an eating disorder. We had the training event for the moderators on November 15th but due to the march it had a low attendance. However the launch of the programme was on 28th and will prove to be a great addition to welfare officers in combating eating disorders. I will be working on this programme in conjunction with Body whys in rolling out the programme with conjunction with the colleges that have signed up to support it.

Priority Campaign - Stop Fees, Save the Grant

l have spent time working on and assisting with the preparations of the national march. I spent three days in Maynooth students’ union where l assisted them in their preparation with the national march. I spent time each day helping in setting up the stands and canvassing the entire day to get students to sign up and commit their attendance. I also did lecture addressing on the hour every hour. One day was spent in Trinity helping with the campaign. I was based in the Hamilton building for the entire day where l canvassed students telling them about the march and why we were doing it. I was also lecture addressing as much l could in promoting the national march.. Two days were spent in UCD where l was based in the health science building leading the promotion of the campaign within the building. I lectured addressed the majority of classes in the health science building, canvassed students and sold the campaign t-shirts. I also went around residents knocking on doors, selling t-shirts and informing students regarding the campaign. Well done to the gang in UCD on running a very good campaign. On the day of the March, like the rest of officer board l assisted in the running of the march and helped in lining up the students before the march started and stewarding the progress of the march.

Policy/Campaign Sheets

I have completed the physical health strategy and have submitted it to USI Congress for consideration. I had a meeting with Ciaran Ó hIarnáin works with Colleges and Universities Sports Association of Ireland (CUSAI). I wanted to first establish a formal relationship with the organisation which was accepted and we agreed to meet twice over the semester and to also have USI Welfare on a subcommittee regarding young people how we can encourage them to be more physically active. This will give the USI Welfare role to have a formal channel in promoting, working on issue relating to physical health. I will also be presenting at their conference in May regarding the new relationship and the need to establishing events and strategy together for the coming year. CUSAI have signal supported towards the USI Physical Health Strategy and felt it was a well written document that will server a good purpose for both organisations. I have met with HSE in regards to the Alcohol Policy and about establishing a substance misuse policy for USI. They have named a number of individuals l can speak to and get input from. I have since completed the Alcohol policy and submitted it to Congress for their consideration. Another input l did this year was the creation of campaign sheets for Mental health week, Sexual Health Week, Exam stress and a finance campaign sheet. These were based from what the last USI Welfare did in relation to sexual health but l further develop them across different areas.

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EDUCATION OFFICER

AENGUS Ó MAOLÁIN

Grants Campaign and Roadshow

The year began with the first coordinated campaign by USI in the late summer, a three week tour of the country, visiting every county at least once presenting to students the opportunity to ask questions about their grants, accommodation issues and general advice from USI officers, local officers and occasionally officials from grant awarding authorities. Parts of the campaign coincided with the regional rent book launches, and many of the events were highly successful. The grants campaign itself was quite successful with the usual distribution of posters to all COs well in time for the new academic year. This year, the posters were co-financed by the HEA student finance section and the entire campaign proved to be of negligible cost to USI, excepting the cost of hours worked and travelled by officer board to facilitate the extensive series of information evenings. The campaign itself would have been impossible without the support and good-will of local officers across the country, officer board, and particularly the area officers, who have my sincere thanks for their work and diligence on this. The roadshow also provided an opportunity for me to travel to many COs and see how things were, to catch up on matters since UOS and helped me know what COs wanted from me. Providing this service to our members and society at large has been of some value for the past few years, as there was no, or next to no single unified source of definitive information for students applying for the grant for the first time. Next year, however, thanks to the provisions of the Student Support Act 2011 there will be a single agency with the competence to carry out this function. I have proposed a motion to this meeting of Congress to change the way USI carries out this campaign in future which will be more efficient and focused than in the past, working within the new agency’s structures.

FE Engagement

While running for election to this position I spoke a great deal about our need to more fully work with students in further education, and not in the colleges we typically seek to represent – be they private, vocational, professional or other types of colleges. I had the pleasure of working with the newly established Monaghan Institute SU and several other students in FE throughout the year, discovering the context in which these representative bodies operate, how they can continue to operate and the significant and unique challenges that face student representatives in further education. Through my work with the FE sector I have come to the conclusion that USI is capable of representing these students, and well, but not within the structures we currently possess. Speaking plainly, we have next to no experience or understanding of the issues confronting these students, and also the most immediate concern is the total absence of unions in the vast majority of FE colleges. Furthermore it should be born in mind that now, more than ever, with the advent of the single quality assurance and qualifications agency (discussed below) that our obligation to adequately represent these students is clear. In order to reach a stage where we can seek to adequately represent our colleagues in FE , I have proposed a motion to this meeting of Congress about which I will speak in more detail when the time comes.

Class Representatives Handbook

Early in the year a number of officers made it clear that there was identified a gap in our training and support regimen for unions when it comes to Class Representation structures. Responding to this we organised a master class in class reps with my predecessor Brighid Breathnach at National Council in GMIT Galway. Brighid did a fantastic job and the workshop was well received. After the session the area officers and I discussed further support opportunities and decided that a handbook

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could be assembled and published by USI for senior officers, class reps themselves and council chairpersons. Drawing on the wealth of experience and past iterations of this sort of document by both USI and COs we authored, edited, compiled and distributed the handbook to COs, where it was well received. It is a substantial document, covering nearly 100 pages and three volumes, but is an invaluable resource. By its very nature the document produced is already slightly out-dated and it is my intention to produce a second edition for next year’s officers before the end of my term.

Student Support Act

Having been pushed, pulled, cajoled, and lobbied for by a generation of local and USI officers, the Student Support Act became law in February 2011 – among the last acts of the previous government. Among the dozens of provisions included in the act is a single national grant administration agency, and changes to the way grants are applied for, processed, paid and decisions appealed. The single agency has been established under the auspices of the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee, called SUSI informally (Students Universal Support Initiative), or SGAS formally (Student Grant Administration Service). I have been and will continue to work closely with relevant CDVEC to ensure the high quality and unquestionable integrity of this service. Approximately half of awarding authorities used the new provisions for monthly electronic payments of the grant this year, which is to be lauded, also nearly all of these agencies allowed students apply for their grant online. The single agency will process all applications online, and will pay all grants monthly and electronically, the trial run offered by the above mentioned authorities has been successful and the few teething problems have been ironed out. Finally, the appeals board was established this year with a skeletal membership. USI nominated former welfare officer Rebecca Murphy to the board and the difference the board’s existence has made is evident, while several authorities remain extremely difficult to deal with. Thankfully, from early summer, those authorities will begin the process of never again having to deal with the grant. For information purposes, Congress will be pleased to know that despite the challenges involved, all authorities paid their first instalments by late February this year, which, incredible though it may seem, is actually a good result under the old process. I look forward to my successor reporting that all first instalments were paid in September in the coming years.

QQAI Bill

Moving ponderously through the legislative process for nearly as long as the Student Support Act is the proposed Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Bill 2011. Simply put, this legislation amalgamates the NQAI, IUQB, HETAC, and FETAC into a single agency, tentatively called QQAAI (Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland). USI is generally very happy with the contents of the bill, but have sought a few small amendments. As we are waiting for the second stage of the Oireachtas debate to begin, I can report no more at this time.

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SParQS Ireland

SParQS is Student Participation in Quality Scotland, an interagency body responsible for ensuring the quality and competence of student inputs into Quality Assurance processes in the Scottish Higher and Further Education sector. As the QQAI nears the end of its legislative maze, this is a wonderful opportunity to propose an Irish version of this structure. The President and I have been working with the HEA and the QA agencies to put together a proposal for establishing the body and are confident that it can be done with relative ease. Work will continue on this until my last day in office, and likely beyond.

Policy work

I have compiled hundreds of thousands of words of submissions to calls for input, complete policy documents, proposals, press releases, reports, studies and opinion pieces since the start of my term. Among the more successful documents I produced on USI’s behalf were our submission on the criteria for Technological Universities, the Public Consultation on Nursing and Midwifery in Higher Education, the Bucharest Declaration, and the National Academy for Teaching and Learning. At times USI has been bereft of specific policy in place while compiling these documents so my sincere thanks go to the officers and students around the country who have put serious effort into assisting me with my enquiries and questions.

Casework

My position has been somewhat unique in that I receive considerably more casework than any other member of officer board, and that when casework reaches me it has already proven itself difficult more often than not. This casework is usually urgent and complex and a cause of distress to the student in question. Often, unfortunately, it can take dozens of hours work to successfully assist a student in trouble, but it is always rewarding on those occasions when I can help someone to a satisfactory conclusion. As the vast majority of the casework I undertake is confidential and highly personal I can not answer specific questions on it, but the range of matters covered range from simple grants enquiries, grants appeals, minor academic difficulties and international student issues to highly complicated disciplinary issues, expulsions, plagiarism and course difficulties.

National Directory

For many years USI produced an extremely helpful diary / directory for officers in COs which included helpful information, contact details and so on. For reasons lost in the mists of time, however the last edition was produced in 2007. Thanks to the diligence of many members of officer board, I very nearly succeeded in completing a new edition of the directory for officers this year, but was stymied by matters outside my control. It is my intention to edit this for next year and produce it before the end of my term for next year’s officers.


Postgraduate Finance

There is no denying that budget 2012 was irresponsible and savage on prospective incoming postgraduate students. The effective destruction of the grant and the complete elimination of maintenance for these students will have a profound impact on thousands of people who will simply not be attending postgraduate education in the coming years. Working with the campaigns officer and the area officers a process of concentrated lobbying and campaigning to reverse this action is well underway. Congress has also mandated us to investigate the provision of a comprehensive loan scheme for postgraduate students. Work on this is advanced, but highly commercially sensitive, so I cannot provide details in this report. We are confident that it will be available at the latest by September 2013, if not before. Working with our colleagues in the European Students’ Union and EURODOC, the European Association of Doctoral Candidates, I have lobbied intensively for the introduction of the so-called EuroMasters programme, designed to provide full support to students following a masters programme in another European Higher Education Area country. There as significant political barriers confronting this matter, but work continues in over 40 countries towards this goal.

European and International Liaison

I have acted as USI’s representative to the European Students’ Union throughout the year and continue to deal with international liaison issues in this highly important year for the European Higher Education Area. The negotiations surrounding the upcoming Bucharest Declaration (discussed below) have taken some time, but we have recorded some significant wins in the latest draft. Along with LSA (Latvia) and ESU we have applied for a significant funding opportunity to host a research and training programme for students and academics for quality assurance in the field of gender equality in European HE. It is also likely that Ireland will have the honour of hosting the meeting of the board and European Students’ Convention of ESU in March 2013, coinciding with Ireland’s presidency of the European Commission and the meeting of the Bologna Follow Up Group in Dublin. I acted as the English-language sub-editor for ESU’s highly regarded Bologna with Student Eyes publication, due to be published by the end of April, and assisted with the research and compilation of this document. I have also worked particularly closely with our colleagues in the Nordiskt Ordførande Møte bloc of the National Unions of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania throughout the year, and was invited to attend their meeting in Oslo in March. Thanks mostly to EC funding, I represented Ireland at a number of conferences overseas both for students and for quality assurance experts and learned a great deal from the experiences.

Bologna Process Bucharest Declaration

Every number of years since the initial meeting of Education Ministers in Bologna in 1999 to construct the so-called Bologna Process (Towards a European Higher Education Area), the ministers meet again to take stock, refocus, and set new priorities for the process. This April in Bucharest, Romania, the 2012 iteration of this ministerial conference will take place. In the lead up to the meeting a huge deal of work has been done by officials in ministries across the European continent, our colleagues in National Unions of Students and ESU towards compiling and agreeing the draft Declaration which will be the tangible outcome of the meeting. I have acted as USI’s negotiator with government and with ESU on the declaration, and have secured some good concessions from the original draft of the document. The most recent draft released is extremely encouraging in some ways, and vague in ways that we want it to be. Specific focus is made on Student Centred Learning, Progression, Recognition of Prior Learning and mobility of students around the EHEA. Governance is mentioned in passing, whereas it was initially given a few paragraphs effectively ruling out stakeholder governance models. Societal obligations and the public good have been bolstered since the initial draft and I would be pleased if the current draft were agreed by the ministers. I am honoured to have been appointed a ministerial advisor for the conference and will be travelling with the Irish government delegation to Bucharest for the duration of the meeting.

Committees and Representation

I have represented USI on many formal committees and working groups this year. I was appointed to the board of HETAC (Higher Education and Training Awards Council) in September, and re-appointed in January. For the second of these terms I was appointed to the audit committee of the Council. Within HETAC I have been actively involved in preparing guidelines for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Education in HE, and with the Institutional Reviews of several HEIs. As one of USI’s members of the Irish Higher Education Quality Network I have been part of three working groups, two of which met formally and one of which suspended its own work until the establishment of the single agency. I am a key member of the working group on guidelines for Transnational and Collaborative Education, and have chaired meetings of the network. I have worked as an expert advisor to the IUQB (Irish Universities Quality Board), a juror for NAIRTL (National Academy for the Integration of Teaching and Learning), and a panel member for several course accreditation boards in the Institute of Technology sector. Along with the deputy president I lead presentations to the Labour Parliamentary Party and the Technical Group, the first in relation to Budget 2012 and the second in relation to postgraduate funding. I have also been engaged in near constant lobbying of various decision

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makers in the Oireachtas and the Departments of Education, Jobs and Agriculture.

Irish National Student Survey

I have represented USI on the Steering Committee of the INSS since December and am happy to report that after some difficult times the survey is now once again on schedule to be carried out in the 2012/13 academic year. My successor will have a great deal of work to do to ensure the smooth facility of this survey as its results and cross-sectoral respectability will greatly benefit our members, and COs when it comes to arguing for improved academic standards in the HE sector.

Future work

I intend to spend the final few months of my term updating several of USI’s policy documents, and creating them where necessary. Specific areas of focus will be the Employment Control Framework, Recognition of Prior Learning and Lifelong Learning, English Language instruction, Pedagogical Education, and Second / ThirdLevel transition reform. I will also be preparing for next year, with the updating of several important documents; the Student Representation Handbook, the National Directory, the Grants Poster, and the incoming VP / Academic’s crossover manual. Finally I will be preparing for UOS 2012 and working on whatever motions Congress sees fit to instruct me to commence work on. The above has been just a selection of highlights of my year’s work, and I look forward to answering your questions. Thanks to National Council for electing me your Education Officer, to Officer Board for the year long support and dedication and thanks to the students of Ireland for never failing to challenge me and inspire me throughout my work.

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DEPUTY PRESIDENT COLM MURPHY

HETAC

Since the beginning of the year I have attended anumber of meetings of the Higher Education Training Awards Council Academic Committee. For a number of years it has been the practice of HETAC to invite the outgoing USI Education officer to sit on the Academic Committee for the year after their term as Education Officer. Some major items dealt with by the Committee this year include include the Institutional reviews of IT Carlow, Cork IT, IADT; validation of new programmes in several HETAC providers and a discussion of transnational programme validation, and creation of a provision for IoTs to convert their existing BA (Hons) in Legal Studies to BCL awards.

LOBBY OF THE OIREACHTAS

With the President and other members of Officerboard I worked on the Lobby of the Oireachtas Document and I worked on organising and I attended the Lobby of the Oireachtas day itself in Buswells Hotel on the 28th of September in Dublin.

NATIONAL CAMPAIGN

I created content or assisted in creating content for a range of posters, flyers, information for www.tellyourTD. com, assisted with the design work for www.tellyourTD. com, arranged for delivery of materials, worked with designers on the Campaign Logo, organised and chaired several meetings of the Campaigns Sub-Group, drafted pencils letters, wrote draft letters to Chairpersons of Parents Councils etc. I worked with other officers on the design of the Advertisement in the national newspapers, responded to media requests about it. COs were divided amongst Officerboard and Therefore I travelled to Limerick Institute of Technology, University College Cork, Tralee Institute of Technology, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway Mayo Institute of Technology and University College Dublin, to assist COs in setting up stands, lecture addressing, forming plans and organising to get the maximum level of turnout. I

sold tickets, t-shirts, spoke with individual students, and assisted COs in whatever way possible. I worked with the president to layout a plan for buses for COs to be able to get their students back one the road home as soon as possible. On the day of the March itself, I spoke with stewards, and assisted in the set up and layout of operations for the day, I worked with stewards in Parnell Square to ensure that students were safe and that the March was ready to proceed in an orderly way. When the march left Parnell Square I worked with the stewards managing the crowd and the speed of the march until we got to Merrion Street where I organised the stewards to form a ‘v’ to get students safely behind the anti-crush barriers. I introduced each speaker in the stage. After the march and speeches were concluded I assisted with clean up, brought equipment back to our staging point, had a de-brief session with stewards, and the proceeded to move equipment to the sleepout that night outside the Department of Education & Skills. I was present at the sleepout, liaised with the Gardaí to ensure the protestors were safe. I did several media interviews, both radio and television as well as speaking to journalists. The following morning I assisted in taking away equipment, cleaning up, more media work etc. In order to keep media interest in the story we organised a media event for the campaign centred around the theme of a funeral for education. For Stage seven we attempted to occupy Labour HQ and then Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation on Kildare Street however we unable to barricade the door as a member of security had their leg wedged in the door and to try forcibly remove him could have caused injury.We regrouped outside and agreed that we would make their way to the Department of Social Protection . The group split up to avoid being easily traceable and the first group arrived while rest of the group were still making their was to this location. While waiting outside the group of 4 saw an opportunity to gain entry and did so. Once they entered the building they ran upstairs to the first floor where they occupied an office which was left open. The Gardaí arrived promptly from Store Street Garda Station (located directly across the road from the department). I dealt with some media outlets requests and spoke with the Gardaí during the occupation. Following the budget together with the Education Officer I met with members of the Dáil Independent Technical Group to discuss cuts to Postgrad Grants. We outlined the current position, the extent of the cuts, the impact that it would

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have on students, gave alternative ways money could be saved/raised, outlined the damage it would do to the Irish economy etc. The members agreed to raise it in the Dáil and co-operate with us in whatever way they could to put pressure on the Government to reverse the cuts. We have done a similar presentation to the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary and are in the process of getting slots to come in and make similar presentation to Sinn Féin, the Labour Party and the Education Committee of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party. We have also written to a large number of external stakeholders urging them to get involved in our campaign from IBEC to Google. I am working on establishing a website where students will be able to upload personal videos allowing them to tell their stories about how this particular cut will affect them and their education.

McCARTHY & ORS v THE MINISTER FOR EDUCATION

Together with the President I worked in relation to getting ready for the hearing of the case of McCarthy & Ors V The Minister for Education and Skills which was heard in the High Court before Mr. Justice Hedigan on the 23rd and 24th of February. The Ministers defence team submitted further document right up until after close of business the night before the case was to be heard. I assisted the President and our legal team in relation to responding to these documents. I was also acting as a liaison between USI and the three plaintiffs and their families. I appeared on a number of radio stations in relation to the case and responded to a large number of media queries.

NON-AFFILIATES

At the start of the year together with the Area Officers I have met with a number of non-affiliated colleges in relation to getting them re-engaged with USI.

SU SUPPORT RE. FINANCE & BUDGETS

With the Southern Area Officer I have been working with a small number of COs using the Freedom of Information Act to establish which Colleges have been following the 1998 HEA Framework for Good Practice in relation to the former Student Services Charge, ex-Registration Fee. This has allowed and will allow Colleges to put pressure on their Colleges to increase funding of their Students’ Unions, or at least maintain it at current levels.

CONFERENCES

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I travelled to Yerevan, Armenia to attend a conference on Funding of Third Level. I gave a presentation and chaired a session on Student Support Systems in the Republic of Ireland. Funding streams such as direct fees, loans and fees, graduate taxes, and other forms of funding were discussed and compared. If anyone would like copies of any of the material please contact me and I will email it out. Particularly important was a discussion of alternative funding streams, in which regard Ireland does

spectacularly poorly. Patenting emergent technologies and earning royalties, tapping into alumni, better utilisation of existing resources, more blended learning, greater levels of flexibility are all things that USI has called for in the past however we can now draw direct comparisons between Ireland and international norms which will bolster and strengthen our arguments that there are alternatives to fees

USI PUBLICATIONS & PROMOTION USI Video

I worked with an external company to prepare a USI video that shows who USI are, where we came from, what we do etc. The video has been used at class rep presentations as well as posted on the USI website and can be used for re-affiliation campaigns etc. I sought quotations from a number of professional corporate video production companies and the contract has been agreed. The video itself is a mix of animation, interviews with Ruairi Quinn, Joe Duffy, Maxine Brady, Colm Jordan, Frank Flannery and John Murray with a professional voiceover.

Class Rep Training Presentation.

I wrote a new presentation for the USI modules at Class Rep Trainings. This module incorporates the videos outlined above.

USI Academic Calendar

I prepared and distributed a USI Academic Calendar to MOs.

PASSPORTS ISSUE

Together with the President I met with officials for the Department of Foreign Affairs to deal with the passports issue where students had made alterations to passports in order to get access to alcohol in the United States. Following that I dealt with a number of queries form parents and from the media

ACTIVIST ACADEMY & PART-TIME OFFICER TRAINING

With the help of other members of Officerboard I organised Activist Academy and Part-Time Officer Training in DIT Aungier Street.


CLASS REP TRAINING EVENTS

I attended Class Rep Training Events including TCDSU, NUIGSU, NCISU, WITSU, IADTSU, DITSU, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, Limerick Institute of Technology (Tipperary Campus), Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Athlone Institute of Technology and delivered the USI Module with other members of Officerboard.

Payments to PreRegistration Nurses Campaign

I met with the INMO on a number of occasions in relation to the situation regarding payments for pre registration nurses. We agreed to work together during the campaign. The INMO wanted to hold an information day for Nursing class reps. I forwarded on their email to COs, a number of teleconferences of COs were organised, however the INMO was unwilling to work with USI in relation to balloting, and informing student nurses about the offer that was on the table from the Minister for Health James Reilly T.D. During the one meeting I did have with the INMO I passed along the concerns of COs in relation to some to the prior actions of the INMO in dealing with COs.

Constitutional Review & Special Congress

Following the a number of drafts and consultation periods the Constitutional Review Group met for its last meeting on the 17th of December 2011. Subsequent to this meeting prepared the final draft of the new constitution and an explanatory guide for Member Organisations outlining the main changes in the document compared with the previous constitutional arrangements. I emailed these out and liaised with a number of MO Presidents to ensure that a Special Congress was called for the 18th January. I worked with other members of Officerboard & USI staff to organise a venue, delegate cards, printed copies of the then current constitution as well as the explanatory guide and Clár. I attended Special Congress. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Constitutional Review Group and the MOs that put in submissions for all their hard work in relation to this project.

Affiliation Referenda

On the 16th of February a USI Affiliation referendum occurred in IADT. I went to IADT previously to address students at a lunchtime and prior to the referendum I prepared materials, tshirts etc for canvassing. Together with the Eastern Area Officer, The Equality Officer and the LGBTRO I spent a day (February 15th) in IADT canvassing and informing students about USI. I also attended a debate on USI in Trinity College Dublin, wrote a number of articles for student publications on USI, attended UCC Class Rep Council which was deciding the working on their USI referendum etc. When the USI affiliation referendum was called in UCC I worked with

other members of Officerboard to prepare and print USI literature, T-shirts etc. I travelled to UCC and canvassed during the election.

Town Hall Meetings

I have attended a large number of USI Town Hall Meetings in colleges across the country. While attendance at these meetings has varied from very good to very poor, I think that they are worthwhile and should be continued in future years, although perhaps a different strategy should be put in place to advertise them. At the last National Council this year I intend to submit a report on the feedback gained through these meetings however in the interim, one theme has come across again and again. USI simply must do more to communicate with students directly. In the majority of instances students were unaware of what work USI had done on their behalf.

Miscellaneous Work

During my term I have also taken part/assisted in: (a) Preparation for USI’s Sexual Health and Guidance Week (b) Representing USI at European Movement Ireland Seminars. (c) Meeting with representatives from the Department of Social Protection in relation to problems with JobBridge. (d) Meeting with the Minister of State for Housing in relation to the proposal for a Deposit Retention scheme. (e) Crossover training for MO officers (f) Assisting MO’s with recruitment of staff. (g) Attended NUS Active Political Leadership Training. (h) Grants and Financial Aid Information evening in a large number of locations across the country. (i) Joint campaign discussions with Campaign for Children & Atlantic Philantrophies. (j) Assisting a number of MOs in relation to constitutional and structural reviews of their Unions. (k) Assisting the President in relation to moving USI’s office. (l) Preparing motions for USI Congress. (m) Various media work. (n) Writing Blogs and articles for a number of publications/websites.


PRESIDENT GARY REDMOND

From the outset I wish to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped USI this year. Whether you are a student, a class rep, a students’ union officer, or a member of staff at a students’ union or a HEI, together we have made many improvements to the lives of current students and begun to shape the educational experiences of students for many generations to come. The ramifications of the decisions that we make as a union and the policies we set at congress are far reaching and reverberate not only throughout the further and higher education sectors but also throughout society as a whole. Of course this year, like last year, was dominated by the state of the public finances and by Budget 2012. From the outset, my team and I were under no illusions that this was going to be a crucial year for students and for Ireland. With the arrival of the troika last November and yet another austerity budget in December 2010 public confidence was at an all time low. However, none of us could have predicted that thousands of students, parents and families would take part in the largest education demonstration in decades for a second year running or that we would organise regionally on an unprecedented scale to take our message to the general public and government alike. There could have been very few people in the country who were unaware of our concerns on education and Ireland’s future. In this report, I hope to focus on the headlines of what we as a student movement have accomplished. The scope of our work is wide ranging and is not simply confined to higher and further education policy. As a movement, we have to recognise that the great majority of our work does not result in headlines. It is our high quality research, training, planning, lobbying and debating behind the scenes that continue to ensure that students’ voices are heard in the correct places, that students’ rights are defended and extended and that students’ unions become even stronger and continue to deliver for their members.

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The Student Assistance Fund (SAF)

The Student Assistance Fund is a financial hardship fund allocated to students experiencing particular or unexpected hardship during their higher education course. Allocations to students can include rent, books, food/heat, medical emergencies etc. The SAF is cofunded by the Irish exchequer and the European Social Fund (ESF). In 2006-07, over €6.2m was allocated to the fund however in recent years this figure has been reduced to €5m despite an increase in the number of applications due to the economic climate. Previously the proportion of the fund allocated to each institution was based purely on student numbers. Following a review of the fund, to ensure the fund was targeted at the most vulnerable students, USI was able to modify the allocation criteria. For the academic year 2011/12 the proportion of the fund that each institution received was based on two criteria, fifty per cent of the allocation was based on total student numbers and the remaining fifty per cent was based on the number access student in the individual Higher Education Institution (HEI) i.e. students with disabilities, mature students, students from lower socio economic backgrounds etc. The SAF is part of an overall vote E21 (budget) allocated by Government for the elevation of disadvantage in Higher Education. Previously the amount of money allocated to each individual fund was ring fenced however through lobbying of both Government and the Department of Education, USI were successful in having the historical under spend in a number of different areas reallocated to the SAF thus increasing the allocation for 2011/12 from €5m to €9m. While there is still significant work to be undertaken on the SAF to open it up to part-time students and students in Further Education, the 80% increase in funds secured in 2011/12 have helped ensure that a greater number of vulnerable students have been able to access the fund and continue in Higher Education.


Student Support Act (SSA) Implementation & Student Grants

In February 2011, USI secured the passage of the Student Support Act after many years of campaigning. Throughout the year the Education Officer and I have been working tirelessly to ensure that the provisions of SSA are implemented in full prior to the 2012/13 academic year. During the summer USI rolled out our Grant Information Road Show, to at least one town in every county, with the aim of providing students and parents with advice and useful tips on completing their grant application forms. As a result of relentless pressure from USI over half of the awarding authorities, accounting for almost 75% of applications, accepted grant applications online at www. studentfinance.ie. Unlike previous years the Department of Education agreed to frontload funds to the awarding authorities to ensure there was no delay in payments to students. USI also secured the continued rollout of monthly direct debt payments by more awarding authorities making it easier and more efficient for students to budget and cover the costs of college. USI research indicating that the state could save up to €5m annually by introducing a single, centralised agency was a significant factor in the introduction many of these innovations. In September, USI scored a major victory with the introduction of the Student Grant Appeals Board. For the first time students who are unhappy with the decision of their grant awarding authority will be able to appeal the decision to an independent, statutory body. USI nominated former USI and UCC SU Welfare Officer Rebecca Murphy as the stduent representative on the board. From May all new grant applicants will apply directly to the cenralised grant agency - Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI). SUSI is a direct result of the SSA and will mean that students will apply for their grants online and will receive their payments on a monthly basis directly into their bank account. Among the new innovations will be a system that where student applies for their grant online they will immediately be given an indication of which rate of the grant that they will receive. SUSI will also be operating a dedicated call centre where students and parents can get advice and support on issues such completing their grant form, application requirements and thresholds etc. USI has strong links with CD VEC (SUSI is a unit of CD VEC) and was involved in providing advice to CD VEC during the tendering process for the centralised grant agency. Over the coming months USI will continue to forge stronger links with SUSI through regular meetings to ensure that any issues that arise can be resolved without delay to ensure students receive their payment on time.

USI Supported Grants Case

Under the measures announced in Budget 2011 a number of changes to the adjacent/non-adjacent criteria were introduced. The first of these changes removed the automatic entitlement to the non-adjacent rate from mature students. The second change was to almost double the distance required to qualify for the nonadjacent rate from 24km to 45km for all existing and new applicants. Figures from the Dept. of Education and Skills suggest that this change affected 25,000 existing students (18,000 traditional students and 7,000 mature students). The change resulted in an average loss of €1,700 to 25,000 students but it was particularly savage for students who are in receipt of the top rate of maintenance and the additional special rate. These students saw their grant reduce from €6,355 to €2,545 a reduction of €3,810 or 60%. Despite the fact that this was a savage, unjust cut that targeted the most vulnerable in society and a large scale campaign the previous Fianna Fáil/Green Party Government and the current Fine Gael/Labour Government refused to reverse the decision. With no other option remaining, USI were forced to turn to the courts to seek a Judicial Review of the Ministers decision. Because the issue did not affect USI directly i.e. USI does not receive a grant, we did not have the locus standi or standing to take the case. In order to proceed with the case USI identified 3 students who had been adversely affected by the policy and supported their action against the Minister for Education. In July our legal team went before the High Court to seek an ex-parte application for a Judicial Review. Mr. Jutsice Peart granted leave for the review and ordered that we serve papers on the Chief State Solicitors Office. As the case was a judicial review, all evidence was sworn in the way of affidavits and replying affidavits. A significant amount of both my time and the Deputy President’s time was spent liaising with our legal team in the preparation of legal submission and background information. The case was eventually heard by Mr. Justice Hedigan on Thursday 23rd and Friday 24th of February in the High Court. Our Senior Counsel Pat Butler outlined our arguments on two counts namely breach of section 6 of the Student Support Act and legitimate expectation. While students accept that the rate of grants varies year on year, existing students had a legitimate expectation that they would not be disqualified from receiving the non-adjacent grant unless their circumstances changed. At the conclusion of the hearing Mr. Justice Hedigan reserved judgement. We are expecting a verdict in the coming weeks. A successful result will ensure that the most vulnerable students continue to receive support to enable to them to progress through Higher Education. USI has again shown the Government that as well as lobbying, campaigning and protesting we are willing to take all necessary steps to protect our fundamental principle of access to education.

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NUS-USI

Following the ratification of the tri-lateral agreement by USI Congress 2011, NUS Conference and NUS-USI Conference, it was decided to undertake a fitness for purpose review of NUS-USI. Upon the competition of the review a complete restructuring of the back office functions of the organisation took place. The transfer of all back office functions to NUS Services has facilitated the introduction of mission focused staff roles within the organisation and a number of new staff have taken up positions in recent weeks. USI is rightly very proud of NUS-USI. NUS-USI is a long standing testament to work of students unions and proof that students’ unions and students are drivers of social change and innovation. I wish to pay particular tribute to the membership of NUS-USI, the current NUS UK President, the NUS-USI President and the senior staff team at NUS UK for their leadership, determination and vision through the change process. I am confident that the new structures in place at NUSUSI will reap huge rewards for the membership and I am particularly proud to have been part of the tri-lateral process. Next month I will have the honour of signing the agreement on behalf of USI during NUS-USI’s 40th birthday celebrations. This is a moment in our history when we should take a step back and admire the foresight of predecessors and the real, tangible influence that both NUS and USI have had on society.

QQAI and Quality Assurance

There are currently four agencies (3 statutory and 1 company owned by the universities) that are responsible for overseeing the QA process. A number of years ago the Government announced that HETAC, FETAC, the NQAI and the IUQB would be merged into a single agency responsible for all aspects of QA across the Higher and Further Educations sectors. A single QA agency will provide many benefits for learners and will ensure that there is a rigorous QA process in place across the board and that Irish awards continue to be recognised internationally. At the beginning of the year, USI set out to ensure that the legislation for the amalgamation was enacted and that the new agency entitled Qualifications and Quality Assurance Ireland (QQAI) was established before June 2012. Overall we are satisfied with the draft legislation. USI has successfully lobbied for the inclusion of a learner representative on the board of the new agency and this is included in the draft legislation. The education Officer and I drafted a number of minor amendments, including an amendment similar that proposed by the current Minister during final stage of SSA to name USI as the legal representative of the learner. These amendments have been submitted by opposition parties on our behalf and will be tabled at committee stage.

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The bill has been moving through the legislative process very slowly but I am confident that it will have completed Seanad Committee Stage prior to Congress.

Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS)

In 2008 there were 84,263 students living in private rented accommodation representing roughly 35% of the total private rented housing market that year. According to research carried out by USI, over 40% of students have had their deposit withheld by their landlord or management company. Of those who had had their deposit withheld, the amounts vary from €100 to over €500 in some extreme cases. Delays in the return of deposits can cause untold misery and financial hardship, especially to those on low incomes who depend on the return of their deposit. Losing their deposit can result in money needed for food, bills, books and other college expenses having to be redirected into the new accommodation. Deposit retention remains the single biggest issue that presents both to the Private Residential Tenancies Board and to Threshold, the National Housing Organisation. As part of our annual accommodation guide, USI launched a major campaign to warn students about the dangers of rogue landlords and to campaign for the introduction of a deposit protection scheme whereby the landlord would be legally obliged to lodge the tenants’ deposit with a third party for the duration of the tenancy. At the end of the tenancy the deposit is returned to the tenant minus any agreed deductions. In the case of a disagreement the dispute resolution process similar to the PRTB’s disputes mechanism would decide the outcome. Following a concerted, high-profile campaign which included the collection of thousands of petitions from students across the country, an overnight sleep out on the lawn of the Department of the Environment, several meetings with the Minister and a presentation to the Joint Committee on the  Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht the Minister for Housing directed the PRTB to carry out a feasibility report on the potential methods of introducing a DPS. The PRTB has completed the tendering process for this report and we expect the Minister to be in receipt of the report by the Autumn.

Payment of PreRegistration Nurses

Towards the end of the last academic year USI in conjunction with the INMO ran a campaign to reverse the Minister for Health’s decision to phase out the payment of pre-registration nurses during their mandatory internship. Traditionally pre-registration nurses were paid 80% of the starting salary of a nurse however; the Government had announced plans to phase this out completely. Following discussions with the Dept. of Health the Minister reversed the decision and nurses will now receive 50% of the starting salary of a nurse during their final year internship. The Department of Health has subsequently announced a complete review of the structure of the undergraduate nursing. The education officer and I are liaising with the INMO and are actively participating in the process.


Transition from 2nd to 3rd Level

In recent months there has been much debate about the method of candidate selection for places in Higher Education. There are currently over 1650 different courses listed in the CAO which compares to just over 60 courses fifty years ago. In September the HEA & the NCCA invited me to speak at the Transition or Transaction Conference. The conference set out to investigate whether the current entry system to HE was fit for purpose and what changes could be made in the short/medium/long term. The following day I was invited to participate in the annual IA/Hero symposium to explore the topics further with a delegation of senior US academics by comparing and contrasting out different recruitment methods. Following conference the HEA & NCCA prepared a paper for the Minister on various options for replacing the CAO and improving the first year experience. Work in this area is on going. While the CAO system is by no means perfect it discriminates against all applications equal and this is a fundamental requirement of any replacement.

National Representation

It is of the upmost importance that students are effectively represented at national level. As president I was appointed by the Government to the boards of the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI) and the Higher Education Authority (HEA). The HEA is statutory planning and funding agency for Higher Education. A long with the HEA board I served as a member of the Finance Committee (responsible for funding allocations) a number of issue specific taskforce and also the appeals committee for university pension appeals. The NQAI is an agency of the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. It has responsibility for developing and maintaining the National Framework of Qualifications and the establishment and promotion of the maintenance and improvement of the standards of awards. I also serve as a director and a member of the management committee of the Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB). The IUQB is responsible for promoting a culture of quality in Irish universities and independently evaluate the effectiveness of quality processes. Along with the Education Officer I am a member of the Irish Higher Education Quality Network (IHEQN). In June, I was elected the chairperson of the IHEQN. The IHEQN is a cross sector colloquium of experts in quality assurance. The membership of the group includes representatives of USI, IUA, IOTI, HECCA, NAQAI, HETAC, FETAC and the IUQB.

Membership Interaction

USI is a membership lead organisation and it is fundamentally important that students can interact with USI. Throughout the year I have tried to spend as much time as possible listening to the views of our members. At the beginning of the year the Deputy President, the Area Officers and I attended as many class rep training events as physically possible to give a USI presentation. The Deputy President and I commissioned a video on the history of USI which will act as an informative and entertaining resource for members while educating them on our past and our current campaigns. After Christmas USI held town hall style meetings in each campus to engage directly with our members and to answer questions on the union or on our campaigns. This was a new departure for USI and I believe should ultimately become an annual event

National Strategy for Higher Education (Hunt Report) The HEA established an internal group to steer the implementation of the Hunt Report. For the last 12 months this has focused on three key areas The Higher Education Landscape, the National Student Survey and lately access for part time learners.

The Higher Education Landscape

The Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn T.D. asked the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to develop and advise him on the future of the higher education sector and appropriate criteria/associated application process for designation as a technological university. Initially an Australian expert, Professor Simon Marginson from the University of Sydney was engaged by the HEA to prepare an initial overview of TU criteria. Professor Marginson’s report was then sent out was consultation across the sector. The HEA executive used Professor Marginson’s report, the feedback from the consultative process and statistics provided by the IoTs to prepare draft criteria for designation as a TU. As a member of the taskforce on strategy implementation, I was involved in reviewing the draft criteria and various iterations prepared by the HEA executive. At its meeting on January 31st the Board of the HEA approved the HEA criteria and proposed application process for designation as a technological university. Following approval by Government, the HEA published the agreed the guidelines on February 13th along with papers on the future higher education landscape and regional cluster. There will be a four stage application process for designation as a TU. Each stage must be independently completed before an applicant can progress to the next stage.

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Stage 1 – Expression of Interest Institutions wishing to apply for designation must submit an expression of interest to the Higher Education Authority. The expression of interest will be considered by the HEA in the context of a system wide analysis of Ireland’s higher education needs and the strategic implications arising from the establishment of a new university. Stage 2 - Preparation of Plan to Meet Criteria At this stage a plan will be prepared by the applicant, addressing how it is proposed to meet the criteria for a technological university and the process requirements and related timelines. Stage 3 - Evaluation of Plan The plan will be assessed by the Expert Panel who will have regard to the existing position of the proposed consortium in relation to each of the technological university designation criteria. Stage 4 - Application for Designation as a Technological University Where the applicant considers that all requirements for designation have been met, the applicant may apply for designation as a technological university. The application for designation will be evaluated by the Expert Panel. Irish National Student Survey (INSS) Both the Education Officer and I represented USI on the steering group of the INSS. The INSS aims to measure student engagement and satisfaction in HEIs across the country. The proposed question bank was based on international best practice and modelled on a number of existing international student surveys with modifications to make them relevant in an Irish context. It was initially envisaged that a pilot would run in a number of IoTs and Universities throughout March and the results of the pilot would then be used to finalise the INSS for rollout nationally in the next academic year. Unfortunately there has been some time slippage in the date for the pilot due to concerns from the Universities about the questions. However, all HEIs are now committed to taking part in the INSS process next year and a pilot of circa 500 students will be conducted in the Autumn with a full rollout of the INSS in March 2013.

Finance, Governance & Operational Issues

In the last twelve months I have lead a complete root and branch review of USI’s operational and financial procedures. In recent years USI’s committees had become stale and in some cases ceased to function. Initially I appointed a new finance committee. The membership consisted of a solicitor, an accountant and a company director as well as the two representatives of national council. The chairperson is the business development of a NGO representative body. Below I have listed some of the operational and procedural changes that have been introduced in the past year spearheaded by the new finance committee

Office Re-Location

USI moved into our current home on St. Agnes Road in Crumlin in the height of the property boom as city centre rents had become unaffordable for USI. In the coming months there is an opportunity for USI to break our current lease without attracting a penalty. Given the current state of the property market, now is an ideal time for USI to move back into Dublin City Centre in a bid to ensure that officers’ time is spent in the most efficient manner by avoiding long commutes between meetings, to provide a larger office with better working conditions and to secure a cost saving for USI. At the Waterford National Council, the decision of the Finance Committee to serve notice on the landlord was approved. Following this, USI engaged the services of a property consultant to prepare a list of potential offices based on criteria provided by the finance committee. We initially received a proposal for 19 separate spaces across the city centre. This list was short listed to six which were viewed by the General Manager and I. This list was further shortlisted to 3 for a second viewing. Following initial negations with the respective vendors, a final proposal of two properties was sent to Finance Committee for approval. National Council in March approved the signing of a lease on Portview House, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 4. In the coming weeks USI will move into a modern, purpose built office building in the heart of Dublin located close to transport links, Government buildings, state agencies and NGOs.

New Constitution

The constitutional review group brought a new draft of the proposed USI constitution to a special congress in January. I wish to express my gratitude to the members of the review group and particularly the chairperson for their dedication and determination to ensure that USI continues to be an organisation that is fit for purpose and can delivering for members.

USI Structure

Currently USI is an unincorporated association, offering little structure and protection to officers, the finance committee and trustees. USI is currently in the process of restructuring to a more appropriate model and applying for charitable status.

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Finances

In order to add a greater level of accountability to our members, I have insisted that all USI accounts be externally audited. For the first time congress will be asked to approve independent accountants and separate auditors. I hope that this level of financial control and accountability will reassure the members that their money is being spent appropriately and that strong financial procedures/controls are in place.

Student Contribution Review Group

As a result of evidence produced by USI showing that the student services charge was not being spent in accordance with the previous framework for good practice, the former Minister for Education & Skills asked the HEA to investigate and prepare a report. The report recommended that a group with nominees of USI, IUA, IOTI and DIT be established to update the framework and bring it in line with new developments. Both the current & former education officers and I represented USI on the group. The group met on a number of occasions and the final report has been approved by the board of the HEA. The final report and new framework was recently issued to all HEIs and SUs. The new framework provides for greater student representation in how funding for student services is decided, an agreed reporting structure across the sector and also ensures that each HEI must publish a breakdown of spending on student services by the end of each calendar year.

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FUNDING PREFERENDUM

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INTRODUCTION Each year delegates from USI member Students’ Unions across the island gather for Congress to elect the Officer Board to work full-time on behalf of the members and to set USI’s policies. USI Congress is the supreme decision making body of USI. The number of delegates from each member union correlates to the number of members of that union. One of the fundamental principles of USI is that it strives for an education and training system open to all, irrespective of any consideration so that each individual can realise their full potential. USI’s current policy in relation to the funding of the Higher Education is that the Exchequer i.e. the taxpayer should bear the entire cost of tuition fees for Irish/EU students through progressive taxation. This policy has been reaffirmed by USI Congress on a number of occasions most recently in 2009. In light of the fact that the Student Contribution will be €2,250 in September 2012 and the Minister has signalled that it is the Government’s current intention to increase the contribution to €3,000 by 2015, USI National Council has decided to consult the membership to determine if USI’s current funding policy is the most appropriate policy to achieve equity of access. At USI Congress in April delegates will be asked to decide USI’s position on the funding of Higher Education taught programmes i.e. taught courses at levels 6 – 9 of the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). Delegates will be asked to express their preference from 1 to 6 on a number of proposed funding positions. The text of the question is as follows; Please rank in order of preference, what should USI’s position on the funding of Higher Education taught programmes be?

• GRADUATE TAX. • ONE HUNDRED PERCENT EXCHEQUER FUNDED. • ONE HUNDRED PERCENT UPFRONT FEES. • STUDENT CONTRIBUTION / REGISTRATION FEE (CURRENTLY €2,250).

• STUDENT LOAN SCHEME. • NONE OF THE ABOVE. The ‘preferendum’ will be conducted by means of a secret ballot via a single transferable vote (STV). If, on the first or subsequent counts, none of the positions have reached the quota, i.e. have attracted more than 50% of the total poll, the position/s which have attracted the lowest number of votes shall be eliminated and the votes redistributed in accordance with the second and subsequent preferences. This process will continue until such time as a position reaches the quota.

Following the result of the ‘preferendum’, the successful position will become USI’s official position on funding Higher Education taught programmes superseding any previous conflicting policy. The successful position will be used by USI to formulate a comprehensive policy the funding of Higher Education taught programmes.

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BACKGROUND In 1995/96 the ‘Free Fees’ scheme was introduced for full-time undergraduate students. This scheme replaced up front fees paid by students with a payment from the Exchequer on their behalf. This scheme applied to all students attending full-time courses in public Higher Education Institutions in Ireland who were:

• of EU/EEA or Swiss nationality, • were first-time undergraduates • and had been living in the EU/EEA or Switzerland for at least three of the five years preceding their entry to an approved third level course.

When the ‘Free Fees’ scheme was introduced, an annual student services charge or ‘Registration Fee’ of £150/€190 was also introduced which was intended to pay for other student services such as Careers, Chaplin, Counselling, Clubs and Societies along with registration and examination fees. However, over the next 14 years, the ‘Registration Fee’ increased almost annually and each time a similar amount of money was taken out of the funding provided to institutions. In Budget 2011, the ‘Registration Fee’ or ‘Student Services Charge’ was abolished and replaced with a direct ‘Contribution Charge’ thus ending the requirement for the funding to be spent on registration, examinations and student services. The contribution currently stands at €2,250. The number of students in Higher Education in Ireland has increased dramatically since the introduction of the ‘Free Fees’ Scheme and Ireland now has the highest percentage of second-level students continuing on to third level anywhere in the EU.

THE POSITIONS THE FOLLOWING PAGES CONTAIN AN UNBIASED, FACTUAL SUMMARY OF EACH OF THE POSITIONS ON THE PREFERENDUM. EACH POSITION ALSO CONTAINS A TABLE LAYING OUT THE PROS AND CONS OF EACH.

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GRADUATE TAX If a graduate tax were introduced in Ireland, students would not pay any fees upfront i.e. Higher Education would be completely free at the point of entry. Under the current model where it is anticipated that the student contribution will increase to circa €3,000 per year by 2015, families are finding it increasingly difficult to afford to pay for the costs of education. By ensuring Higher Education is totally free at the point of entry it means that students from all backgrounds have access to a third level education. A graduate tax could be implemented in two ways. Firstly, a graduate would repay an additional rate of tax for their entire working life however this could lead to a graduate repaying the cost of their course many times over. Alternatively a system could be implemented where a graduate would be asked to repay for a set period of time perhaps 15 years or until such as they have repaid a certain percentage of the cost of their course this ensuring that the burden for education is borne mostly by the Exchequer but contributed to by the graduate. In a graduate tax funding model the Exchequer would borrow money to cover the cost of Higher Education and the graduate would pay an additional amount of tax after a certain threshold when they begin earning. If the graduate earns below the threshold or is unemployed they don’t pay anything. The additional income from repayments by graduates will provide additional revenue for colleges & universities to invest in additional resources. In a graduate tax model similar to the second option above modelled by the National Union of Students in the UK (NUS UK), a teacher would repay approx £7 per week. Unlike a Student Loan Scheme, the individual graduate has no personal debt burden i.e. they do not owe any money. This is a particularly important distinction as students from lower socio economic backgrounds are often debt adverse and may avoid Higher Education as they are uncomfortable taking on any level of personal debt. Secondly, by having no personal debt it has no impact on the graduate’s ability to obtain a mortgage, car loan etc. One major drawback to a graduate tax model is that a graduate may decide to emigrate in order to avoid repayments. A second issue is that the repayments are collected through the general taxation system and there is no guarantee that the money wouldn’t be diverted elsewhere and not be spent on education. Given the state of the public finances and Ireland’s debt to GDP ratio, it may be difficult for the Exchequer to borrow the funds necessary to run the scheme as there is a lag of a number of years for repayments to begin as the student must graduate and begin earning above a minimum threshold. Like a student loan scheme, the issue of initial funding may not insurmountable and could be advanced by the European Investment Bank or perhaps by borrowing money from the National Pension Reserve Fund.

PROS is open and accessible to all • Education as it is free at the point of entry and there is no upfront cost.

resources will be available • Additional for maintenance grants as the state will no longer need to cover the student contribution under the existing system.

revenue may be available • Additional to colleges/universities and/or the Exchequer to invest in additional facilities or to deliver additional supports to students.

are income contingent, • Repayments graduates pay an additional levy or percentage through taxation.

have no personal debt. This • Graduates resolves the issue of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds avoiding Higher Education as they are debt adverse and also the issue of graduates being unable to obtain mortgages, car loans etc. due to personal debt burden.

graduates do not have a personal • As debt there is no interest to be paid on repayment.

are based on the • Repayments graduate’s earnings and not their parents as is the case under the current means test

CONS

may emigrate to avoid • Graduates repayments. administrative and • Significant implementation costs. revenue is collected through • Additional general taxation and may not be spent on education.

tax could involve rolling • Graduate Exchequer borrowings and debt servicing costs which may not be possible in the current climate.

may be a significant time lag • There before any additional funding is

available to colleges/universities as graduates must graduate and begin earning before repaying.

some graduate tax models • Ingraduates repay for life and thus

repay the cost of their programme many times over however; this may be negated by introducing a maximum length of payment and/or maximum repayment amount.

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ONE HUNDRED % EXCHEQUER FUNDED

Higher Education is a public good and having increased numbers of graduates benefits all of society; economically and otherwise. Ireland has a progressive taxation system which is designed to fund our public services. Third level education is a requirement for many professional careers; similar to how second level was viewed a generation ago. Graduates will, on average, get better jobs, generate more economic activity and pay on average 70% more tax over the course of their working lives than non-graduates and therefore repay the cost of their education. However, given the state of the public finances, the numbers of students currently in Third Level education, and the expected rise in that number over the next decade, it would be extraordinarily difficult for the Exchequer to take on even greater percentage of the cost. With a huge percentage of the funding available going to paying for tuition fees for every student, it is likely that less money would be available for grants. Therefore while College would theoretically be free, students without the money to afford living expenses associated with college may still be unable to access Higher Education. Ireland is an extremely attractive location for EU students to come and study as it is a safe, English speaking country with lower fees than England, Northern Ireland and Wales. This can be seen from the 20% increase in UK students applying to study in Ireland next year. As a result, we have a disproportionate number of EU students coming to study here compared with the number of Irish students going abroad to study. This puts even more pressure the system and is a factor in CAO points for courses. Colleges/Universities in Ireland are already suffering from lack of funding, if this funding model was to be implemented, i.e. the Student Contribution removed it is likely that general taxation would have to increase to avoid a severe reduction in the quality of education.

ONE HUNDRED % UPFRONT FEES

The re-introduction of upfront fees transfers the burden for funding Higher Education from the Exchequer to the individual student/family and may release Exchequer funds to be spent in other areas of the economy. Students would be charged fees in line with the full economic cost of their courses. In essence this would be a return to the position in universities prior to the introduction of the ‘free fees’ scheme. Programme

EU

Non-EU

Arts

€5,784

€14,850

Science

€7,478

€20,000

Medicine

€8,862

€39,200

The additional funding generated by the introduction of upfront fees would likely be available immediately to Higher Education institutions to invest in additional infrastructure and services. Internationally, where upfront fees are charged to students a provision is made to provide scholarships/bursaries/grants to enable students from lower socio-economic to attend Higher Education. The introduction of upfront fees would pose insurmountable challenges for many students from low to middle income backgrounds and it is likely that significant numbers of potential students would be unable to afford Higher Education potentially leading to both societal and economic issues.

PROS

number of school leavers • The attending third level courses has

increased dramatically to almost 7 out of 10 and would likely continue to increase.

is open and accessible to all • Education as it is paid for by the Exchequer. do not make course decisions • Students based on the cost of courses and instead select a discipline of genuine interest.

CONS

additional revenue will be available • No to colleges/universities and/or the Exchequer to invest in additional facilities or to deliver additional supports to students potentially affecting the quality of education and future employment prospects.

from other EU countries • Students may chose to study in Ireland due to low fee rates and return home after graduation providing no return on investment for the Irish taxpayer.

the current climate Exchequer is • Inunable to cover cost. additional funding will be available • No for maintenance grants. increase in general taxation to • Likely cover ongoing costs.

PROS

additional revenue will be • Significant available to colleges/universities and/

or the Exchequer to invest in additional facilities or to deliver additional supports to students.

disparity between different • Reduces categories of student e.g. full and parttime undergraduate students would both pay fees.

CONS

• revenue may be retained by • Additional central Government and not used for Potential for student migration i.e. students choosing to study abroad.

additional facilities or services.

equity of access issues for • Significant students from low and middle income backgrounds – fees may only be affordable to students from wealthy backgrounds and would result in access issues.

tests are based on the parents • Means incomes and not the future income of the graduate.

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STUDENT CONTRIBUTION/ REGISTRATION FEE

PROS number of school leavers • The attending third level courses has

increased dramatically to almost 7 out of 10 and continues to increase.

(CURRENTLY €2,250)

means tested maintenance grant • The system ensures that students from

The current system of students paying a percentage of the costs of their education by means of the Contribution Charge spreads the costs of Higher Education between the Exchequer and the student/family but the burden is primarily borne by the Exchequer. The current Higher Education Grants system pays the Student Contribution on behalf of approximately 44% of students on the basis of their family income.

in all courses pay the same • Students contribution irrespective of course

The Contribution Charge, formerly the Registration Fee, has increased substantially since its introduction along with the ‘free fees’ scheme in 1996/1997.

YEAR

COST

YEAR

COST,

1996/1997

€190

2006/2007

€800 ,

1997/1998

€317

2007/2008

€825

1998/1999

€330

2008/2009

€900

1999/2000

€353

2009/2010

€1500

2000/2001

€371

2010/2011

€1500

2001/2002

€396

2011/2012

€2000

2002/2003

€670

2012/2013

€2250

2003/2004

€670

2013/2014

€2500*

2004/2005

€750

2014/2015

€2750*

2005/2006

€775

2015/2016

€3000*

costs ensuring that students who opt for more expensive courses do not suffer a financial penalty.

CONS

additional revenue will be • No available to colleges/universities

and/or the Exchequer to invest in additional facilities or to deliver additional supports to students potentially affecting the quality of education and future employment prospects.

become increasingly difficult • Itforhasfamilies to afford to pay the contribution as it has increased potentially affecting access rates.

numbers of students • Increasing are having the contribution paid on their behalf as they are in receipt of a grant thus putting additional pressure on the grant system.

Anticipated increases as announced by the Minister for Education & Skills in February 2012

The majority of the full economic cost of Higher Education is still bourn by the Exchequer and it is likely given the state of the Irish economy and the public finances that the Government will seek to continue to increase the Student Contribution in future years resulting in it becoming increasingly difficult for families to meet the cost of the contribution. Students who are just above the maximum threshold for the Maintenance Grant get no assistance in paying the Student Contribution and in the current climate it is likely that this is having a substantial impact on their ability to obtain Higher Education qualifications. Since the introduction of the ‘Free Fees’ scheme and the Student Contribution, formerly Student Services Charge or Registration Fee, access rates to Higher Education in Ireland have increased enormously, however the proportion of students from lower socio economic backgrounds has not increased in line with other categories of students. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of students and a decrease in funding by the Exchequer which has been partly offset by the increase in the Student Contribution. This raises concerns about the lack of funding affecting the quality of education in Irish colleges/ universities.

70

lower socio economic backgrounds have the contribution paid on their behalf.

means test for availing of the • The state payment under the grants system is based on parents’ income and not future income of the graduate.

is a huge disparity where • There full-time undergraduate students

pay the contribution while parttime undergraduate and taught masters students pay full upfront fees.

is likely that the contribution will • Itcontinue to increase. from other EU countries • Students may chose to study in Ireland due to low fee rates and return home after graduation providing no return on investment for the Irish taxpayer.

the current climate Exchequer is • Inunable to cover cost of additional students and will likely have to implement a cap on student numbers.


STUDENT LOAN SCHEME Student loans schemes exist in several countries across the globe where the Government has decided that to ensure a high quality of education the Exchequer and the graduate should jointly bear the cost of Higher Education. To ensure access to Higher Education the State puts in place a loan scheme which is open to all students and does not require a guarantor. The student pays no money upfront and does not begin repayments during their studies. Under this scheme Higher Education is free at the point of entry and thus accessible to all. If a loans scheme was implemented in Ireland, it is likely that it would be ‘income contingent’. That means, that after graduation, no student would have to starting repaying their loan until their income was above a certain threshold and not at all if they were unemployed. Following graduation a graduate would start repaying the loan after they earn above a defined threshold until either; the loan was paid off or a fixed number of years had passed in which case the remainder of the loan would be written off. The more a graduate earns, the faster they would repay the loan however, if the graduate was unemployed they would make not any repayments. The revenue raised through a student loan scheme could be used to provide additional resources or student supports and to increase the quality of education offered to students. There are however some drawbacks to a student loan scheme, for example graduates could emigrate to avoid paying the loan thereby leaving the system with a significant shortfall. Research has also shown that students who are coming from lower socio-economic backgrounds are ‘debt averse’ meaning they are less likely to take out loans to pay for Higher Education, even when, on average, it is in their long term economic interest to do so. Students with student loans may find it harder to get other loans to such as mortgages as they already have a significant debt burden. In some loan schemes interest on the unpaid balance is added on annual basis until the loan is written off or repaid. Because the State no longer has to pay the student contribution on behalf of students receiving a grant, this releases additional money to extend the maintenance grant to additional students to help them cover the costs of attending Higher Education such as transports, books, accommodation etc. Finally, given the state of the public finances and Ireland’s debt to GDP ratio, it may be difficult for the Exchequer to borrow the funds necessary to run the scheme as it takes a number of years for repayments to begin. The issue of initial funding may not be insurmountable and could be advanced by the European Investment Bank or by borrowing money from the National Pension Reserve Fund.

PROS

is open and accessible to all • Education as it is free at the point of entry and there is no upfront cost.

resources will be available • Additional for maintenance grants as the state will no longer need to cover the student contribution under the existing system.

revenue may be available • Additional to colleges/universities and/or the Exchequer to invest in additional facilities or to deliver additional supports to students.

are income contingent, • Repayments graduates only repay what they can afford based on earnings after a threshold.

are based on the • Repayments graduate’s earnings and not their parents as is the case under the current means test.

CONS

income groups are debt • Lower adverse and may decide to avoid Higher Education to avoid debt.

carry significant personal • Graduates debt burden potentially leading to

issues obtaining mortgages, car loans etc.

may emigrate to avoid • Graduates repayments. administrative and • Significant implementation costs. system could involve rolling • Loan Exchequer borrowings and debt servicing costs which may not be possible in the current climate.

may be a significant time lag • There before any additional funding is

available to colleges/universities as graduates must graduate and begin earning before repaying.

graduate’s personal debt may be • The subject to an annual rate of interest.

NONE OF THE ABOVE If the position of none of the above is successful, delegates will have decided that none of the five options for are acceptable as USI’s funding positions.

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OFFICER BOARD ELECTIONS

72


VP GAEILGE

PEADAR DE BLUIT

Is mise Peadar de Blúit, an t-Oifigeach Gaeilge reatha. For the past year I have been working closely with the majority of Cumainn Gaelaigh, and Irish Officers around the country to cater for the Irish Language communities in CO’s, in order to fulfill USI’s commitment to the Irish Language. As well as this I have worked closely with Irish Language organisations, such as Conradh na Gaeilge, Seachtain na Gaeilge, and Oireachtas na Gaeilge – all of whose governing boards I sit on. The benefit of this to USI being that it offers our students a chance to get involved with Irish, as well as the most important thing – a chance to use, and practice their Irish. Tá mé tar éis a bheith ag obair ar go leor rudaí éagsúla i gcaitheamh na bliana, i measc na rudaí seo bhí traenáil na gcumann, turas go Oireachtas 2011, Rith 2012, agus Seachtain na Gaeilge 2012. I have also endeavoured to develop a substantive Irish Language policy for the USI, so as to make it clear to all of our members, sabbats and students alike, what our position on the Irish Language is. I have also tried to bolster the complement of Irish Officers in USI. Although there is yet to be a breakthrough I believe that it is feasible for the Irish Language Officer to a achieve in the coming year. Táim tar éis an-thaitneamh a bhaint as an mbliain seo. Tá éirithe liom le rudaí áirithe, agus ní chomh maith céanna le rudaí eile. It is my hope in the coming year to complete tasks that remain unfinished from this year. As well as this I want to undertake new projects in the coming year foremost among these is setting down a specific job of work on a year-to-year basis for the Irish Language Officer. It was a victory for the Irish Language community to retain an Officer. By the end of this year I want to show that that decision was the correct one and that there will be no question as to the benefit of this office in the future.

73


VP BMW REGION

BREFFNI GORMAN

Becoming a student activist was not something I ever saw myself doing before I ran for ITSSU and once I became involved I became one of the biggest critics of USI. The lack of action and the lack of engagement with any county outside Dublin led me to run for election to officer board and I stood before my colleagues and asked them to vote me in because I wanted to fix what I saw wrong in the organisation. This year as Western area officer I made it my business to ensure that discussions at officer board level covered small and large colleges alike no matter their geographical location. I think this has filtered through in the engagement from COs with me and it has been such an honour to work with unions and see them flourish throughout the year. Leaving the Students’ Unions aside, I personally felt my next task was to develop the USI brand on campus so students would know what USI is. It is clear from the criticism of USI on social networking sites that there is still a lot of work to do but there have been some improvements in this area. Throughout my year I have hosted information stands and clinics on main and satellite campuses reaching a diverse population across my region. As a direct result I meet with students regularly and they have interacted with me as their USI rep and many people are more aware of USI. This year has been a rollercoaster in terms of the demands of the job, but it is something I have thrived on. I wont lie and say its been an easy year without its mistakes I acknowledge these mistakes and I acknowledge the additional work that needs to be done by next years Officerboard. Despite the rollercoaster I have enjoyed every moment, and I know I am lucky to have a role that excites me so I am motivated to work and this is why I now am asking for the opportunity to be Vice President of Regional Development in the BMW region. 

74


VP SOUTHERN REGION

BEN HONAN

My name is Ben Honan and I am currently the Students’ Union President at UCC. I’m a 24 year old graduate of law and politics from UCC and I’m running to be the next USI Vice President for the Southern Region. As president of the biggest HEI in the South I had a steep learning curve coming into the job. I came into a union which was rife with infighting and animosity, and struggled early on with certain team dynamics. In overcoming this challenge, I feel I improved in my leadership ability and gained invaluable skills in conflict resolution. As someone who has played basketball and hurling to the highest level, I put an extremely high premium on teamwork. I feel that as VP for the South I would be able to use this experience to ensure that group goals are identified early and individuals prioritise these and ensure a healthy working environment. The area officer remits have been the source of much debate in recent years. The question of whether area officers should prioritise hands on work within MOs or concentrate more on facilitating USI campaigns and lobbying at a regional level still goes on. I would like to see the position as a means to encourage channels of communication between regional MOs through the use of video conferencing. I also think there is massive potential for area officers to co-ordinate campaigns at a local level in terms of local media relations and maximising input from local MOs. If you would like to find out more about these ideas then read my manifesto or don’t hesitate to get in contact with me on 0868554031.

75


VP EQUALITY

JUSTYN MCKAY

Hi Guys, My name is Justyn Mackay and I want to be your VP for Equality and Citizenship this year, hopefully this will give you a quick introduction as to why I am the best candidate for this position – but please do read my full manifesto! With this new position, we face challenges of ensuring that current and long standing campaigns are continued and improved, as well as embracing new and fresh ventures. As your VP for Equality and Citizenship, I will strive to promote see this position flourish and be an effective brand that students can relate to. I am currently a final year student at Queens University Belfast, as well as this, I act as the Deputy President of NUS-USI, the national Students’ Union for the North, giving me valuable experience in working with the USI and making me the only candidate with national union experience. Having attended many national councils, protests and conferences throughout the year. With this I will also bring a wealth of experience, knowledge and resources through the strong links I have built up with the NUS liberation campaigns, bringing a new perspective and tried and tested ideas. There are too many areas of my manifesto to cover here, but whether its improving opportunities for non LGBT students to get more involved in liberation campaigns, highlighting the severe lack of legal recognition for trans people in Ireland, calling for a National Disability Advocacy Service or producing a Green Guide, the one thing you can rely on is that I will not let any area of this role fall behind or get neglected. We need to engage more with our grassroots members, as a regular blogger and tweeter, I will ensure that all members are kept up to date with the campaign, as well as holding regional forums across the Island. To ensure this year is the most effective and efficient year yet, we need someone who can efficiently organize and plan large-scale national events over the course of the year and realistically timetable them into the contact time we have with students. I am the only candidate that can provide your colleges with the knowledge, experience and passion needed for this role! At USI Congress this year, Vote Justyn Mackay #1 for VP Equality and Citizenship

76


VP EQUALITY

LAURA HARMON

This is our chance to make the USI Equality campaign as effective as it can be. A new role requires someone who has successfully pioneered new projects. It requires someone with vision and the initiative to shape the role into the best it can be for students. I have set down strong precedents for my work in previous roles and have proven my ability to innovate. My work ethic has been tried and tested and in my manifesto, you will see that I have a broad base of experience that is directly related to the role. A vote for me is a vote for a commitment to inclusion and equality. I want to make a difference for students. Having consistently demonstrated my passion and knowledge of equality issues, I am confident that I can hit the ground running if elected. If you elect me as your Vice President for Equality and Citizenship, you will be electing someone you can trust to act as a strong advocate for your rights. You will be electing someone who has lobbied TDs and Government advisors and who has extensive experience in engaging with the media. You will be electing someone who has won awards and been recognised for the strength of her leadership skills. Increasing student civic engagement and participation is something I am committed to. I am one of 25 participants selected for Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Wave Change/Youth Civic Action Initiative. While registering students to vote is important, I believe that citizenship goes beyond this. Increasing student engagement with the issues is vital. I also believe that the USI can play a part to provide a platform for the ideas that students have for changing Ireland for the better. Equality is as much an ethos as it is a campaign. As your officer, I will ensure that member organisations are treated equally within the USI regardless of size or geographical location. I will ensure that the USI sets the example. I want to work hard for you. I want to work hard to make equality and active citizenship a reality for students.

ďżź

77


VP WELFARE

DENISE MC CARTHY

My name is Denise McCarthy, I’m a 23 year old from Tipperary and a WIT Social Care Honours Degree Graduate. I am currently in my second year as Deputy President for Welfare (Welfare Officer) with WIT Students’ Union. As a person, I feel I am an approachable individual and also work very well within a team. I have great communication skills and the ability to tackle any challenge head on. I first got involved with WIT Students’ Union in 2006 as a Class Representative and remained actively involved in the Student Movement throughout my time while studying. I was always active with the Students’ Union and have helped with various events and Welfare campaigns. I have also had the opportunity to sit on various boards and committees such as WIT Governing Body, Clubs and Societies Finance Committee and WIT Community Liaison Committee all adding to my experience of communicating and dealing with various people. During my time as WITSU Welfare Officer, I have introduced many initiatives, improved all Welfare Campaigns on campus and have brought WITSU Welfare to a new level; something I believe I can now do for USI Welfare. I am running for the position of USI Vice President for Welfare. I am fully aware of what is involved in this position and I feel that I am the best person for to do the job. For the past two years I have worked diligently as WIT Students’ Union Welfare Officer where I have gained a lot of experience and knowledge which if elected, I can bring forward to this position. With my passion and dedication to Welfare I believe I can bring this position from strength to strength and maintain the continuity that has been previously established. I feel it is a challenging position and this is something I thrive on. I would like to work on a number of key areas and have ideas and plans for areas of priority. Some of these include; Campaigns, Finance & Support, Training and Support for Officers, Accommodation, Sexual Health and Mental Health. Please have a read of my manifesto and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to come talk to me during USI National Congress.

78


VP CAMPAIGNS

KATE ACHESON

My name is Kate Acheson and I am running for the position of Vice President for Campaigns of USI. USI is an organisation I have devoted my time and energy into since July 2009 when I became IT Carlow Students’ Union President. Having completed two years as a MO President I ran for the position of Southern Area Officer where I thoroughly enjoyed the role liaising with, working with and co-ordinating the Southern Region. Having completed 8 months in this position, thus far, it has been a worthwhile experience and learning curve where I actively sought to improve areas of USI and utilised my role to its full potential. The decision to run for Vice President for Campaigns came after deep thought and consideration. I wanted to be sure I could throw all my energy and enthusiasm into filling the role to the best of my ability. My previous three years’ experience has laid the foundations for what I know would be a very productive year in an exciting new role. The coming year will bring many challenges and battles for the USI team in its mission to represent the students of this country. We will need to be innovative, diligent and fresh in our thinking. I aim to be the campaign co-ordinator that will organise, plan and incorporate all mandates that come from Campaigns Working Group and National Council. The depth of experience and knowledge which is present in our colleges across the Country will be reflected in each USI led Campaign next year. I will set up a Sub Group for the National Campaign that would be formed in the summer where a clear strategy will be set out and I will ensure that Sabbatical Officers, Executive Members and students across the country have had an input and are fully informed about the campaign. There is a need to be self-critical and look at how we can improve upon the positive work that has already been done. I will take on board all feedback from each MO to ensure that next year we strive together in rejuvenating USI and fight for the rights of students. Please have a look at my manifesto for more details on my ideas for the coming year where I aim to bring new concepts to the table, change the running of many USI events and incorporate the ideas from MOs across the Country.

79


VP CAMPAIGNS

ROBERT MUNNELLY

Not available at time of going to print

80


VP ACADEMIC AFFAIRS & QA

CAT O’DRISCOLL

Hello, my name is Cat O’Driscoll, I am 24, from Cork and graduated from UCC last September with a degree in Microbiology. I am running to be your VP for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance as I have the energy, experience and enthusiasm to be a strong voice for students, an efficient worker producing valuable results and an experienced support for all of the Officers in each MO working for their students. Throughout my years in UCC I have been heavily involved in Societies and the Students’ Union with slightly less involvement in Clubs and volunteering yet somehow managed to finish my degree whilst holding down a part time job. The experience I have built up during my time on the committees of various Societies has equipped me with valuable skills allowing me to be a very organised, managed and hardworking Student Representative. I started out as a Class Rep. for one simple reason; we had a lot of problems and I wanted to fix them. Since then I have always aimed to address the issues facing students in their daily academic activities whilst creating a strategy for an efficient and transparent system. I also held the positions of Science, Engineering and Food Science College Rep and Council Chairperson before running for my current position of VP Education. As Education Officer this year I have fulfilled a role which I believe has prepared me for the diversity of a role such as Academic Affairs & Quality Assurance Officer. As a member of the Quality Promotion Committee I have been involved in the different parts of Quality Reviews including sitting on the Steering Committee for our Institutional Review. I have the experience and expertise to equip the Education Officers of 12/13 with the skills and knowledge needed to fulfil their role whilst offering a support system for them. Working with our executive whilst negotiating and working with the Academic and Administration Staff of UCC and helping students everyday has been the best nine months of my life. I hope you find my passion, work ethic and experience worthy of your vote. Please see my Manifesto for information on my ideas for the year ahead.

81


PRESIDENT

CIARÁN NEVIN

A proud Leitrim man, Ciarán has two degrees in Engineering from DIT. Ciarán has a keen interest in reading, cycling, socialising, driving, technology, comedy, and current affairs. In 2006, Ciarán founded the DIT Comedy Society. The society went on to win a number of awards, with Nevin at the helm. The focus of Ciarán’s two years as DITSU President has been reform, sustainability in challenging times, and making the Union accessible to students. As President of USI, Ciarán will lead a strong team through what will be another difficult year for students. Central to his plan is to strengthen the Union - so that your voice is heard. More Bang for Your Buck - Ciarán will focus on increasing the transparency and accountability of the Union to members, while also developing sustainable growth - ensuring that USI is future-proofed. These reforms will create suitable conditions for the Union’s strength to grow. Connecting With Students - Ciarán recognises that the strength of the Union is measured by the collective strength of its members, and so the glue that keeps the Union together is communication. Only through connecting with the student body and local students’ unions, can USI grow in strength and influence. Radically Different Campaigning - Universal access to education is fundamental to a sustainable economy and a fair society. As an organisation, our battle must be to win the hearts and minds of the public - not just the Government. 32 Counties Strong - USI is a 32 county organisation and its time that it made that count. Students from the south should be helping students from the north with their struggles and visa versa. Unions in the south should be learning form unions in the north and visa versa. Ciarán’s experience ensures that he will be able to deliver on the above. While in DIT, Ciarán has been a Class Rep, Governing Councilor, Parttime Officer, Societies Chairperson, Class-Rep (Faculty) Convenor, Member of 3 College Boards, Delegate to 6 consecutive USI Congresses, President and Director of DIT Students’ Union, Director of DITSU Trading Limited (more detail contained in manifesto).

82


PRESIDENT

JOHN LOGUE

Having served as USI Deputy President and Eastern Area Officer last year, John is seeking the Presidency of USI after returning to college to complete his degree. During his short time in USI, John had many notable achievements and was known for his leadership and strong work ethic.

Following a six month campaign, John secured 5,000 places for graduates on JobBridge- the national internship programme. JobBridge provides valuable work experience to unemployed graduates along with an increase in their unemployment benefit. John produced the initial policy calling for the scheme to be created and implemented the lobbying and campaign strategy that saw it included in Budget 2011. John orchestrated USI’s ‘Your Future, Your Vote’ campaign that successfully registered over 15,000 students to vote prior to the general election in 2011. He also co-ordinated the USI/INMO Protest which saw over 10,000 nurses and midwives take to the streets in protest at payment cuts for students while on placement. With the USI President out of the county and the grant situation escalating, it was John as Acting President who engaged with solicitors regarding the decision of the Minister for Education & Skills to cut grant payments. These initial meetings led to the High Court case that is still on going. If successful, his actions may result in students receiving millions of Euro in retrospective payments. Throughout his time in USI, John forged strong links with the Department of Education having met the Minister and his staff on numerous occasions. He also developed strong relationships within the Higher Education Authority, having been a content advisor on student grants with the organisation this year. The USI President needs to be able to work closely with these bodies to deliver for students and John will be ready to do so from 1st July. John believes USI needs to change its entire campaigning strategy if it is to deliver for students. He believes that USI is not a headquarters in Dublin but rather a strong bond of students’ unions across the country. He believes that now, more than ever, the organisation needs a new direction. John has the experience, ideas and drive to take USI in that new direction. Vote for Experience. Vote for a Vision. Vote Logue for President 2012”

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MOTIONS & POLICIES

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CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS CA1

External Organisations Proposed by: DKIT SU Seconded by: President

Insert after Article 7 and renumber accordingly

Article 8: External Organisations 8.1 USI shall be a member of the European Students’ Union (ESU). 8.2 USI’s membership of any organisation, group or external campaign other than those listed at 8.1 above shall require the approval of 2/3 of the membership of National Council. At least 7 days notice of any such motion must be provided to the members of National Council.

CA2

Typographical Changes Proposed by: USI Deputy President Seconded by: USI President

Delete:

7.1.2 The five Committees shall be:

And replace with:

7.1.2 The ten Committees shall be:

Delete

5.1.8 The Vice President for The Irish Language & Culture

And replace with:

5.1.8 The Vice President for The Irish Language

Delete:

5.9.4 The VP/Southern shall work with all Colleges in the Southern and Eastern Region to develop their Unions focusing on Unions who have been suspended or where a College does not have a functional Union, to assist the students of that College to establish one.

And replace with:

5.9.4 The VP/Southern shall work with all Colleges in the Southern Region to develop their Unions focusing on Unions who have been suspended or where a College does not have a functional Union, to assist the students of that College to establish one.

Delete:

4.1.5 The Annual Congress shall elect all members of the Officerboard excluding the NUS-USI President. Any ordinary member is entitled to contest and elected position at Congress. All registered delegates are entitled to vote in each election at Congress except in the case of the elections for the Vice Presidents for Union Development and Liaison. The electorate for the positions of Vice President for the Border, Midlands and Western Region and the Vice President for the Southern Region shall be the registered delegates from Member Organisations located wholly or mainly in that Officer’s region, as defined by Schedule G and the relevant Vice President.

And replace with:

4.1.5 The Annual Congress shall elect all members of the Officerboard excluding the NUS-USI President. Any ordinary member is entitled to contest and elected position at Congress. All registered delegates are entitled to vote in each election at Congress except in the case of the elections for the regional Vice Presidents. The electorate for the positions of Vice President for the Border, Midlands and Western Region and the Vice President for the Southern Region shall be the registered delegates from Member Organisations located wholly or mainly in that Officer’s region as defined by Schedule G, and the relevant Vice President.

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CA3

Seconding Motions

Proposed by: USI Deputy President Seconded by: USI President

Delete:

C6.1 Member Organisations may submit five motions each and may second seven motions. All members of the Officerboard and each Committee they chair may all submit three motions, and may second five motions each. To be placed on the Clár, each motion must be proposed and seconded by a different Member Organisations or a member of the Officerboard. A member of Officerboard may not second a motion proposed by a Committee that they Chair or vice versa. From time to time National Council may establish ad hoc Committees/Conferences who shall have the power to submit up to five motions. These motions must still be seconded in the manner above.

And replace with:

C6.1 Member Organisations may submit five motions. All members of the Officerboard and each Committee they chair may all submit three motions. From time to time National Council may establish ad hoc Committees/Conferences who shall have the power to submit up to five motions.

CA4

Finance Committee Proposed by: USI President Seconded by: DIT SU

Delete article 8 and replace with below, replace all references in schedules as appropriate.

Article 8: Union Finances

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8.1 The Finance Committee 8.1.1 The Finance Committee shall be responsible for overseeing the finances of the Union and shall advise National Council and Congress accordingly of any developments or initiatives taken. 8.1.2 The role of Finance Committee is to: 8.1.2.1 Draft the annual Union budget in consultation with the President who shall present it for approval not later than the second National Council meeting of the academic year. 8.1.2.2 Monitor the budget on a quarterly basis. In the event of a significant deviation the Chairperson of the Committee shall submit a written report to the next meeting of National Council. 8.1.2.3 Examine the Union’s audited annual accounts and submit them with a detailed commentary to Congress for approval. 8.1.2.4 Determine, set and regulate the Officerboard’s terms and conditions of employment. 8.1.2.5 Oversee the general financial management and commercial development of the Union. 8.1.2.6 All decisions other than those specifically outlined in Article 8 or Schedule B taken by the Finance Committee must be referred to National Council for notation. To overturn the decision and/or action taken by the Finance Committee a two-thirds plus one vote of National Council is required. 8.1.2.6 Set expenses rates for all officers, committees, staff and panels of the Union 8.1.2.7 Recommend the union’s auditors and accountants to National Council for ratification on an annual basis. 8.1.3 Finance Committee shall meet as often as necessary but at least once per quarter and not less than six times annually. 8.1.4 Finance Committee shall consist of at seven members who shall be: 8.1.4.1 The President of the Union. 8.1.4.2 The Chairperson of the Committee who shall serve a three year term and be nominated by the Board of Trustees and ratified by National Council. The Chairperson may only be removed from office during that term by a two-thirds plus one vote of National Council, provided that at least one month’s notice of such motion is given. 8.1.4.3 Two members, who must be members of the National Council at the time of their election, but not members of the Officerboard and are directly elected by the National Council. The first member shall be elected at the last meeting of the academic year and shall hold office for the following twelve months. The second member shall be elected at the first National Council of the academic year and shall hold office for the following twelve months. These members may be dismissed by a two-thirds plus one vote of National Council, provided that at least one month’s notice of such motion is given. In the event of a vacancy of either of these members it must be filled at the following National Council.


CA4

(cont.) 8.1.4.4 Three qualified people from outside the Union, who are not members of the Union but may be serving Trustees, who can contribute by virtue of their experience. They shall be nominated by the President and ratified by National Council. Such persons shall hold office for three year terms. These members may be dismissed by a two-thirds plus one vote of National Council, provided that at least one month’s notice of such motion is given. In the event of a vacancy in respect of any of these three position it shall be filled as soon as practicable. 8.1.4.5 One former President of the Union, proposed by the President and ratified at National Council and shall have a three year term and may only be removed from office during that term by a two-thirds plus one vote of National Council, provided that at least one month’s notice of such motion is given. 8.1.4.6 Staff members of the Union may attend at the invitation of the President when they deem appropriate and shall act as a secretariat to Finance Committee. 8.1.5 In the interests of continuity and cohesion, the President shall endeavour to arrange appointments to Finance Committee under Article 8.1.4.4 in such a manner as to avoid the likelihood of all three appointees departing from Finance Committee at or around the same time. 8.1.6 The Finance Committee shall have an audit and governance subcommittee who shall be responsible for ensuring that appropriate practices and procedures are in operation in the areas of corporate Governance. 8.1.6.1 The membership of this committee shall be 3 members of the Finance Committee other than the chair and the President. The President and senior staff shall have the right of attendance at meetings. 8.1.6.2 The sub-committee shall meet as often as necessary but at least twice annually. 8.2 The Board of Trustees 8.2.1 The President may seek the advice of the Trustees on any aspect of the Union’s affairs. 8.2.2 All the real property and investments of the Union shall be vested in the Trustees (whether directly or though vesting in the trustees the shareholding of any limited company holding assets of the Union) who shall deal with such property as directed by resolution of National Council or Congress. 8.2.3 There shall be no less than three Trustees of the Union who are ratified by National Council on the recommendation of the President. Trustees can only be removed by a twothirds plus one vote of a quorate National Council. They shall continue to hold office unless they resign, are removed or are incapacitated. 8.2.4 The Trustees, from among their members, shall elect a chairperson and shall meet as a Board when necessary but not less than once per year. Prior to Annual Congress, the Board, shall satisfy themselves as to the financial state of the Union. They shall communicate their satisfaction or otherwise to the Finance Committee and Congress. 8.2.5 The President and a Trustee shall sign all property leases upon resolution of National Council or Congress or in the case of a lease being entered into by a limited company for the benefit of the Union any such lease shall be signed by at least two directors one of whom shall be the President qua company director. 8.2.6 The Board of Trustees shall be indemnified against risk and expense out of the assets of the Union. 8.3 Financial Responsibilities 8.3.1 As the executive of the Union, National Council shall ultimately be responsible for the finances of the Union. 8.3.2 National Council shall have the power to borrow, raise or secure the payment of money for the purposes of the Union and with a view there to, to direct the Trustees to mortgage or charge any of the real or personal property of the Union. National Council for the purpose of such borrowing or raising or securing the payment of money for the purpose of the Union shall be empowered to authorise the Trustees and the President to act on its behalf and enter into the necessary agreements and sign guarantees 8.3.3 The Trustees and the President in acting on behalf of National Council shall be indemnified against risks and expenses out of the assets of the Union. 8.3.4 The Union shall keep an up to date governance manual including but not limited duties and responsibilities of trustees, duties and responsibilities of members of Finance Committee, procurement procedures and an internal operations procedure to be drafted by Finance Committee and approved by National Council at least annually and shall be included as Schedule J. 8.4 Incorporation 8.4.1 The Union may form such limited company or companies as shall be determined from time-to-time to be expedient for the administration of the Union’s financial affairs. 8.4.2 The Board of Directors of any such company or companies shall be the members of the Finance Committee together with such other persons, if any, as the Finance Committee

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may from time-to-time nominate for appointment with such nominations to be approved by National Council and the implementation of such appointment to be undertaken by the relevant Board of Directors. 8.4.3 Departing members of Finance Committee shall be obliged to resign their position(s) on any Board(s) of Directors of any such company or companies upon ceasing to be a member of Finance Committee. 8.4.4 Any articles and memorandum of association shall be attached to this constitution as a schedule. 8.4.5 USI shall aim to seek charitable status.

CA5

Officer Conditions

Proposed by: USI President’s Working Group Seconded by: USI Deputy President 5.12.3 – Delete the word ‘starting’ in the first sentence 5.12.3 – Delete the remainder of the paragraph after the sentence ending with ‘one grade higher.’

CA6

Leas-Uachtarán don Ghaeilge Proposed by: Oifigeach na Gaeilge Seconded by: USI Education Officer

Insert into Article 4, paragraph 1, sub-paragraph 5, after “NUS-USI President”; “and the Vice-President for the Irish Language.” 

Insert after sub-paragraph 5.10.3

“5.10.4 The VP / Irish shall be elected annually at an Irish Language standing conference. It will be the responsibility of the VP / Irish in co-operation with the Irish language working group and steering committee to organise the Irish language standing conference.”

CA7

Vice President for Equality and Citizenship Proposed by: IT Tralee Students’ Union Seconded by: IT Carlow Students’ Union

Delete:

Article 5.7.2 as currently appears: “The VP/Equality shall assist the VP/Campaigns in relation to campaigns for the defence and promotion of student’s rights in the 12 areas of equality and citizenship with special focus on LGBT rights including carrying out the Union’s policy on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, encouraging the participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in the Union and working to eliminate prejudice against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.”

And replace with:

“The VP/Equality shall assist the VP/Campaigns in relation to campaigns for the defence and promotion of student’s rights in the 12 areas of equality and citizenship.”

88


ACADEMIC AFFAIRS & QUALITY ASSURANCE MOTIONS AA1

Technological University Status

Proposed by: Dublin Institute of Technology Students’ Union Seconded by: Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union

Congress Notes:

Section 8.7 of the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 (The Hunt Report), which relates to the evolution of the Institutes of Technology in Ireland. The strategy makes the case for a new type of University, known as a Technological University, which would have a different focus to those Universities established under the Universities Act 1997.

Congress Further Notes:

That this development would help to bring about a parity of esteem between both the sectors, whilst recognising that they are different in nature.

Congress Notes with Concern:

The risk of the Higher Education Sector becoming divided over this proposal.

Congress further notes with Concern:

The impact of this potential for division on the education sector, and the reputation of the education of our members.

Congress Acknowledges:

A move by a number of Institutes of Technology to work together to establish Technological Universities on a regional basis.

Congress Welcomes:

Efforts by the Department of Education and Skills to plan for Higher Education provision in Ireland over the next two decades.

Congress Stresses:

The importance of engagement with appropriate student representative organizations throughout the implementation process.

Congress Mandates:

All appropriate members of Officer Board to meet and discuss the impact of Technological University status with the Member Organisations involved in each potential Technological University on a case by case basis and to make representations on their behalf, at a national level. This mandate shall be fulfilled as required, and shall be presented for review on its expiration.

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AA2

Establishment of Agency for Student Training in QA Proposed by: DKIT SU Seconded by: USI President

Congress notes:

That SPARQS was created in 2003 to support the greater engagement of students in the management of quality assurance and enhancement in Scotland’s Colleges and Higher Education Institutions. SPARQS is hosted by NUS Scotland and is funded by the Scottish Funding Council for Further and Higher Education.

Congress further notes:

The advancement of student participation in the QA process in Scotland since the establishment of SPARQS.

Congress notes with regret:

That little training is provided to students who are involved in the QA process in Ireland.

Congress welcomes:

The amalgamation of HETAC, FETAC, NQAI and IUQB into QQAI.

Congress mandates:

The President and the Vice-President for Academic Affairs and QA to attempt to secure funding and lobby for the establishment of an agency similar to SPARQS to be managed by USI. This mandate shall expire after a period of 3 years if it is not re-approved by Congress.

AA3

Grant Campaign

Proposed by: Education Officer Seconded by: Oifigeach na Gaeilge

Congress notes:

That for the past several years USI’s officers have carried out a campaign of information evenings across the country in the months of late summer for those applying for the student grant.

Congress also notes:

That this has been a valuable service to society generally and to our members.

Congress also notes:

That a single governmental agency would be able to commit significantly more human and financial resources to such a campaign that this Union, and that with the creation of the single national grants awarding agency that such an agency now exists.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance, Vice President for the Southern Region and the Vice President for the Border, Midlands and Western Region to work with the above named agency toward jointly provisioning the grant awareness and information campaign in the future. The first of these recurring campaigns shall be completed by October 2012.

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AA4

Technological Universities Proposed by NUI Galway Students’ Union Seconded by GMIT Students’ Union

Congress recognises

That many Institutes of Technology are aiming to become Technological Universities (TU) in coming years.

Congress further recognises

That should the number of Institutes of Technology which have currently declared their intention to seek TU status actually achieve that status, this would create a situation where almost every major provider of third-level education in Ireland would be some form of university. This could have a big impact on quality assurance as future students may not be certain of what courses and colleges are most suitable to their needs and interests.

Congress notes

That the international recognition of all of our qualifications is vital in ensuring our graduates have a decent chance of employment, regardless of whether those qualifications are from a University, an Institute of Technology, or any other provider of third-level education.

Congress mandates the USI Officerboard

To ensure that the National Council and the Member Organisations in general are kept fully informed of developments regarding the possible re-designation of Institutes of Technology as Technological Universities over the next three years To lobby the Government over the next three years to maintain the current criteria for the re-designation of an Institute of Technology as a Technological University, and to include this issue in future Lobby of the Oireachtas documents

AA5

Continued Improvements to the Lecturing Standards in HEI’s Proposed by: Dublin Institute of Technology Students’ Union Seconded by: Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union

Congress Notes:

The importance of continued monitoring of the teaching standards of 3rd level courses, which contribute to the degree awarding abilities of all HEIs.

Congress Further Notes:

The importance of lectures and tutors/mentors in students’ time in 3rd and 4th level education.

Congress Notes with Concern:

That any short comings in lecturers’ attempts to continually develop their teaching methodology and knowledge in their chosen area will have seriously detrimental effects on their ability to assist their students’ learning.

Congress Further Notes with Concern:

That, currently, no legislation exists which governs the need for lecturers to develop their teaching methodology and knowledge in their chosen area.

Congress Mandates:

The USI President, following consultation with any representative union with 3rd level lecturing staff among their membership, to lobby the HEA to introduce and implement criteria based, Peer led Performance Review scheme to monitor the performances of lectures on an annual or biennial basis. Independent student feedback is to be an integral element of these criteria. This mandate should be fulfilled by June 2013.

Congress Further Mandates:

That the President lobby the HEA to establish a working group to form the framework and criteria for this performance review scheme, which includes, but is not limited to, representatives for students, lecturing staff and a national 3rd level Quality Assurance organisation. This mandate should be fulfilled by June 2013.

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AA6

Re-institution of Gaeltacht Grant for Teachers Proposed by: Oifigeach na Gaeilge Seconded by: An t-Oifigeach Oideachais

Congress notes:

The benefit that time in the Gaeltacht affords trainee teachers

Congress notes with concern:

Steps taken by government to remove the grant for teaching students to go to the Gaeltacht as part of their course.

Congress mandates:

The Vice-President for Academic affairs and Quality Assurance and the Vice-President for the Irish Language to lobby the department, and minister for education to reverse the decision to remove the grant, in order to ensure that trainee teachers may continue to attend the Gaeltacht during their course.

AA7

Grant reform (Estranged parents) Proposed by: Education Working Group Seconded by: Welfare Working Group

Congress applauds:

That the Student Support Act 2011 has come in to effect and that from summer 2012 the administration of the student grant scheme will be significantly more streamlined, and the application process more clear and user friendly for those applying.

Congress notes:

That for those whose parents are informally separated, or who have no tangible connection to one or both parents for whatever reason, and who are under the age of 23 applying for a grant remains impossibly burdensome due to the onerous documentary evidence obligation on the applicant.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance to propose an alternative method of proving independence for adoption by National Council before the end of December 2012.

And

That a detailed submission be made by the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance and the President to government on this subject before April 2013.

AA8

Merging of Higher Education Institutions Proposed by: STACS SU Seconded by: IT Sligo SU

Congress notes:

That discussions for regional clustering and merging of Higher Education institutions are currently on going.

Congress recognises:

The positive developments these institutions will bring to research, teaching & learning and provision of facilities and services.

Congress notes with concern:

That the individual nature of an institution’s ethos, identity and traditions may be lost in the creation of mergers and amalgamation of institutions.

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AA8

(cont.)

Congress mandates:

Officer Board to keep an institution’s ethos in mind when in discussion with the HEA and all relevant stakeholders to ensure that that they are protected and to report back to National Council and the MOs who will be affected. The mandate shall lapse after three years from being passed at congress as discussions will be on going with regard to the future of Higher Education in Ireland.

AA9

Implementation of the HEA report from the Working Group on Student Contribution Proposed by: TCD Students’ Union Seconded by: DIT Students’ Union

Congress Commends:

The work done by the group and the report it has compiled.

Congress Notes:

The financial strain that student services are facing across the country, even with the increased contribution charge by students.

Congress Notes with Concern:

Varying practices between HEIs, which directly contradict the General Principles outlined in the report, much to the detriment of student services and students’ unions alike.

Congress Mandates:

That all USI Vice Presidents and President, where relevant, lobby the HEA to ensure that all HEIs adopt the general principles and recommendations of the report. By arranging meetings with the relevant senior HEA officials before the end of December 2012.

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EQUALITY MOTIONS EQ1

USI seat on the board of Mature Students Ireland Proposed: USI Equality Officer Seconded: USI Eastern Area officer

Congress notes:

That this year the Equality officer has obtained a seat on the board of Mature Students Ireland.

Congress further notes:

The importance of this seat for maintaining good links with Mature Student Support Staff in all our Higher education institutions.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Equality Citizenship Officer to seek re-election to this board on a yearly basis.

EQ2

Longitudinal Survey of students with disabilities Proposed by: USI Equality Working Group Seconded by: USI Western Area officer

Congress notes:

The 2010 Survey of Students with disabilities which was facilitated by USI and Ahead.

Congress further notes:

The importance of continuing a similar survey on yearly basis. This will allow us to evaluate how services are changing for students with disabilities across the country on a yearly basis. This will allow us to campaign and lobby more effectively.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Equality and Citizenship Vice president to work with ahead to conduct this survey on a yearly basis.

EQ3

International Student training DVD Proposed by: USI Equality Working Group Seconded by: USI Western Area officer

Congress notes:

That this year USI has begun an extensive project in conjunction with ICOS, Irish Council for International Students and the Department of Education and Skills.

Congress further notes:

How important this project is for training staff working with international students in the HEI sector.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Equality and citizenship Vice president to continue to work on this project as a major aspect of their work over the coming year.

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EQ4

LGBT

Proposed by: UCDSU Seconded by: DKITSU

Congress notes with grave concern:

That despite our claims to be a progressive nation we do not recognise the rights of LGBT members of the community as being fully and unequivocally equal to those of heterosexual orientation.

Congress further notes:

The failure to recognise equality in our legislation undeniably leads to a failure to see people as equals in our classrooms, our lecture theatres, our campuses and our workplaces.

Congress believes:

This failure to lead both directly and indirectly to a lesser standard of living for members of the LGBT community. That it leads to the denial of rights to children raised by same sex parents and to gross negligence on the part of the state by indirectly condoning bullying and torment for people who identify as LGBT.

Congress therefore mandates:

The President and the Campaigns officer to vehemently campaign on the full equalisation of rights regardless of sexual orientation, for full and equal marriage rights, full and equal adoption rights and for this Union to recognise LGBT members as full and equal members of society in recognition of the rights as laid out above.

Proposed Amendment:

Under the sub heading ‘Congress therefore mandates’, remove ‘The President & the Campaigns Officer’ and replace with ‘The President, the Vice-President for Campaigns and the Vice-President for Equality & Citizenship’.

EQ5

Students with Learning Disabilities Proposed by: TCD Students’ Union Seconded by: DIT Students’ Union

Congress Notes:

The excellent work done by USI in the area of representation for students with disabilities.

Congress Further Notes:

That, in the past, campaigns re students with disabilities have tended to focus primarily on students with physical disabilities.

Congress Notes with Regret:

The lack of attention which has been paid during this campaigning to students with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, autism, etc.

Congress Further Notes with Concern:

That, for students with learning disabilities, services in universities and institutes of technology can be sorely lacking in some cases, thus placing a great barrier between such students and their access to education.

Congress Reaffirms the Notion:

That every student has a right to access to third-level education.

Congress Mandates:

The Vice President for Equality & Citizenship to co-ordinate campaigns before March in each academic year on support services for students with learning disabilities and to lobby the Minister for Education to improve support services for students in these areas.

EQ6

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Gender Recognition Legislation Proposed By: USI LGBTRO Seconded by: USI Welfare Working Group

Congress notes:

That the Government’s commitment to introducing Gender Recognition Legislation is overdue and an important step in improving the lives of many Transgender people in Ireland.

Congress believes:

That the recommendations presented to the Minister for Social Protection by the Gender Recognition Advisory Group (GRAG) do not contain many of the concerns and issues raised by USI and other groups such as Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) and are not in line with the Yogyakarta Principles.

Congress further believes:

That the Irish Government has an opportunity to introduce Gender Recognition Legislation that that is fair and reflects the real life lived experiences of many Transgender people in Ireland.

Congress mandates:

The VP for Equality and Citizenship and the VP for Campaigns to campaign for Gender Recognition Legislation that will reflect the real life lived experiences of Transgender people in Ireland and is line with the Yogyakarta Principles.

EQ7

LGBT Mental Health

Proposed by: USI LGBTRO Seconded by: USI Welfare Working Group

Congress notes:

That the results of the Supporting LGBT Lives Study of 2009 showed serious issues for LGBT people in Ireland with regards to mental health and bullying.

Congress notes with concern:

That these results showed that “ Almost 20 per cent of gay, lesbian, bisexual and Transgender people have attempted suicide and almost all saw this as related to their sexual identity and the experiences of being abused and feeling isolated”

Congress further notes:

The high levels of self harming within the young LGBT community and the levels of homophobia that still exist in many areas of Irish society.

Congress mandates:

That the VP for Equality and Citizenship and the VP Welfare engage with various LGBT organisations like BeLonG To, TENI and GLEN and develop policies for LGBT mental health and best practice for promotion of positive mental health for LGBT people.

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EQ8

Direct engagement with students on LGBT campaigns Proposed by: USI LGBTRO Seconded by: USI Campaigns Working Group

Congress notes:

The important role the LGBT Campaign within USI has played in the on-going fight for equal rights for all LGBT people in Ireland and the world.

Congress further notes:

That through events such as USI Pink Training the LGBT Campaign has always been effective with engaging with students on grassroots level.

Congress notes in particular:

Campaigns focusing on Civil Marriage, the MSM Blood Ban, anti-homophobia and Gender Recognition Legislation campaigning have been successful but are still active and must remain so.

Congress believes:

That following the changes to the USI constitution and the merger of the LGBT Rights Officer Position into VP Equality and Citizenship role in order to continue the impact the course of LGBT rights in this country it is vital that forward planning takes place for the future LGBT Campaigns in consultation with students on a grassroots level.

Congress mandates:

The VP Equality and Citizenship and VP Campaigns to write a campaign plan for the LGBT Campaign year at the beginning of every term.

Congress further mandates:

The VP Equality and Citizenship to hold consultation days in early July with LGBT students to access what the relevant campaign issues are for that year and to devise the year plan in conjunction with the rest of the consultation.

EQ9

Gender neutral welfare campaigns Proposed by: TCD Students’ Union Seconded by: DIT Students’ Union

Congress notes:

That gender and sexuality norms can have significant negative effects on some students particularly in the LGBT community.

Congress also notes:

That these norms can be reinforced and propagated unintentionally by USI publications such as the illustrations on the SHAG Week Packs for 2012

Congress believes:

That USI should lead by example in getting society to treat all students equally

Congress therefore mandates:

That Vice President for Welfare  seek the advice of The Vice President for  Equality & Citizenship to ensure that USI welfare campaign materials are gender neutral, in advance of 5th February 2013.

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS MOTIONS IA1

South African Student Leader’s Project Proposed: USI Equality Officer Seconded: USI Eastern Area Officer

Congress notes:

That USI has begun a new project Santrust South Africa and ICOS, the Irish council for International students regarding a South African student leaders project which allow for the development of longstanding connections Irish and South African Student leaders.

Congress further notes:

That this project is useful for promoting USI as an organization that has a strong social conscience and as an organization which is concerned with perusing international links.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Equality and Citizenship Vice President to continue to work on this project over the coming years pending successful funding application.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS MOTIONS NA1

Childrens’ Rights

Proposed by: Campaigns Working Group Seconded by: USI President

Congress notes:

The absence of legislation in Ireland in relation to the protection of children

Congress further notes:

The contents of the Cloyne, Ryan and Murphy Reports.

Congress recognises:

That we, as a society, fail to protect vulnerable children.

Congress therefore mandates:

USI Officerboard to actively support the proposed referendum on childrens’ rights, to work with Campaign for Children and other organisations in favour of the referendum, and to actively encourage and facilitate MOs to get involved in the campaign. This motion shall continue to be in force for the next three years or until such time as the referendum has passed.

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NA2

Croke Park Agreement Proposed by: UCDSU Seconded by: DKITSU

Congress notes:

The 2011 Croke Park agreement imposes a moratorium on public sector recruitment and guarantees no compulsory pay cuts to public sector staff until at least 2014.

Congress notes with concern:

The lack of employment for graduates resulting from the recruitment freeze stipulated by the Croke Park agreement and that the public sector pay freezes have resulted in less money being available in the budgets of Educational Institutions for non-pay expenditure such as student services.

Congress believes:

That the Croke Park agreement has had a negative effect on students’ education and employment prospects.

Congress mandates:

That USI calls for the renegotiation of the Croke Park Agreement.

Proposed Amendment:

Under the sub-heading ‘Congress Notes’, remove ‘The 2011 Croke Park Agreement’ & replace with ‘the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 (Croke Park Agreement)’. Add in an additional sub-heading at the end which should read:

Congress further mandates:

The President to pursue a renegotiation of the Croke Park agreement at the Lobby of the Oireachtas & to propose a more student-friendly alternative which will still endeavour to respect the rights of public sector employees.

NA3

Private Schools

Proposed by NUI Galway Students’ Union Seconded by GMIT Students’ Union

Congress recognises

That we as a student movement we must strive for true equality of opportunity at all levels in the Irish education system.  We also recognise that whether or not a child will make it to third-level education is very often determined by the quality of their secondary education.

Congress further recognises

That many potential students have not made it to third-level because they come from areas of socio-economic disadvantage, and thus cannot afford private schooling, or because the public schools in their areas are not adequate.

Congress notes

The growth of grind schools and private secondary schools in Ireland in the past two decades, and that this growth of the private school sector has led to a divided student body at second-level and beyond, and has also resulted in many good public schools struggling to fill places and stay open.

Congress further notes

That students attending private schools have access to an education that is to a large extent publicly-funded, but which is only accessible to those who can pay the private fees which run into the thousands each year. This means that all taxpayers are being asked to subsidise an education system that is only accessible to those children lucky enough to be born into relatively well-off families, and that this private education puts them at a great advantage in attaining higher CAO points and thus places on third-level courses.

99


Congress mandates Officer Board

To campaign for the removing of state funding for private primary and secondary schools, and for any monies saved in this process to be ring fenced and re-invested in the wider, publicly-funded and publicly-accessible education system including primary, secondary and third level education. This should be completed within the next year.

NA4

Reform of the Irish Constitution

Proposed by: Dublin Institute of Technology Students’ Union Seconded by: Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union

Congress Notes:

The inherently Catholic ethos of the Irish Constitution/Bunreacht na hÉireann.

Congress Further Notes:

USI policy in the areas of marriage equality and abortion.

Congress Notes with Concern:

That the Catholic nature of the Constitution prohibits any legislation which may seek positive, fair and just advancement in these areas, areas in which USI has campaigned tirelessly for decades.

Congress Believes:

That the Constitution of Ireland should be wholly secular in nature, and that no one religion deserves constitutional supremacy over all others, nor should any one religion influence the laws of the State.

Congress Mandates:

The Vice President for Campaigns and the Vice President for Equality & Citizenship to lobby for a seat for USI on the soon-to-be established National Constitutional Review Committee and to make known USI’s desire for a secular Constitution, lobbying to ensure that areas such as the definition of marriage etc. are in line with USI policies. This mandate must be fulfilled prior to the national Constitutional review taking place.

NA5

Unsecured Bondholders Proposed by: USI President Seconded by: USI Education Officer

Congress notes:

That during election 2011 the current Government, while in opposition, proclaimed that not a single additional cent would be given to the banks.

Congress notes with concern:

That over the past year the taxpayer has paid billions of euro to unsecured, unguaranteed bondholders in the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (formally Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society).

Congress further notes:

That at a time when Ireland’s debt to GDP ratio is one of the highest in Europe, the Government plans to continue paying billions of euro to unsecured, unguaranteed bondholders.

Congress mandates:

The President and VP Campaigns to campaign against any additional repayment to unsecured bondholders in the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.

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NA6

ECF and Front-line Staff

Proposed by: USI Education Working Group Seconded by: USI Welfare Working Group

Congress notes:

That higher education remains under intense financial pressure in the context of the State’s current budgetary policy.

Congress also notes:

That rates of remuneration to certain ranks within higher education are uncommonly generous within a European or OECD context, and that this is unsustainable when the entire system is barely coping with the strain of budget reduction.

Congress however notes:

That is many cases it is not those described above whose contracts are not renewed under the terms of the Employment Control Framework, but rather those who might be called frontline learning support staff.

Congress mandates:

The President and the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance to lobby for the special protection of Library Staff, Laboratory Technicians, Demonstrators and Tutors within the Employment Control Framework, either in its third iteration, or as an amendment to the current framework by June 2013.

NA7

Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) Proposed by: Campaigns Working Group Seconded by: IADTSU

Congress notes:

The importance of copyright law and the protection of intellectual property rights and the need of the Irish government to act on this.

Congress notes with concern:

The lack of public discussion on the ACTA Treaty and how it would be implemented in Ireland.

Congress further notes with concern:

The potential impact of any legislation around ACTA on students’ work, freedom of speech and civil liberties.

Congress therefore mandates:

The VP/Campaigns to campaign and lobby on behalf of the students of Ireland to prevent the ratification of the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement and the introduction of legislation to enforce it in Ireland.

Congress further mandates:

The VP/Campaigns to lobby and campaign for the next three years for a wider discussion on the issue of copyright infringement and counterfeit trade prior to the Irish government putting in place any legislation in this area.

NA8

Public & Civil Service Recruitment Embargo Proposed by: USI Deputy President Seconded by: USI President

Congress notes:

The difficulties caused by the current Public & Civil Service Recruitment Embargo and the employment control framework in operation in the Higher Education Sector.

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Congress further notes:

That Ireland has a huge problem with Graduate Unemployment and that many of our best and brightest are being forced to emigrate.

Congress therefore mandates:

The President and VP/Campaigns to lobby for a root and branch review of all areas of the public and civil service. This review would enable the Government to create a public and civil service that is appropriate for a modern Ireland. By creating a modern civil and public service the Government would be in a position to lift the embargo and recruit graduates into frontline services and other areas appropriate for a modern Ireland.

NA9

Graduate Unemployment & Emigration Proposed by: DKIT SU Seconded by: USI President

Congress welcomes:

The progress made to the date on the implementation of the USI Reigniting the Smart Economy Policy adopted at Congress 2011.

Congress also welcomes:

The announcement of the Job Bridge, National Internship Scheme in June 2011.

Congress notes with grave concern:

Recent figures that over 100 Irish people are emigrating every day. Large scale emigration has hugely negative social and economic consequences for communities across the country.

Congress mandates:

The President and VP Campaigns to launch a large scale campaign to force Government to tackle the problems of Graduate Unemployment & Emigration and to create the appropriate environment for job creation.

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Congress further mandates:

The President and VP Campaigns to lobby for the following amendments to the Job Bridge Scheme. • • • •

A reduction in the Job Bridge criteria from 12 weeks to 4 weeks. The modification of the Social Welfare Code to enable employers to give a modest stipend to interns. That Job Bridge interns under the age of 25 qualify for the maximum rate of Job Seekers Benefit. Vetting of Internships on Job Bridge site.

This mandate shall expire after a period of 3 years if it is not re-approved by Congress.

NA10

National Property Services Regulatory Authority Proposed by: Seconded by:

IT Sligo Students’ Union St. Angela’s College Students’ Union

Congress notes:

The findings of the Auctioneering/Estate Agency Review Group established by the Minister for Justice and Law Reform, that the existing statutory framework for the property sector in the Republic of Ireland is outdated, inappropriate and inadequate for the present day market and does not provide any ongoing official supervisory, disciplinary or consumer redress system.

Congress further notes:

That to address these shortcomings, the Review Group recommended the establishment of a Regulatory Authority to achieve uniformity and transparency in licensing, regulation and provision of information to the public in relation to the property sector.

Congress understands:

That the Minister for Justice and Law Reform has established the National Property Services Regulatory Authority (NPSRA) as the agency to carry out this function.

Congress believes:

That this is a hugely positive step by Government to regulate the property sector. At a time where many businesses are facing liquidation, receivership, and other financial difficulties, adequate governance is required more than ever. Furthermore, the enactment of this legislation to empower this regulatory authority would provide a significant support to our members along with all tenants nationwide.

Congress mandates the President and Vice President for Welfare:

To voice the support of the USI; before the end of the calendar year 2012, for the establishment of the National Property Services Regulatory Authority (NPSRA).

Congress further mandates the President and Vice President for Welfare:

To lobby the Minister for Justice and Law Reform; before the end of the calendar year 2012, to ensure the swift and secure enactment of this legislation.

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NA11

Mortgage Repayments Proposed by: USI President Seconded by: USI Welfare Officer

Congress notes with concern:

Recent figures that 1 in 7 householders are struggling to repay mortgages due to the economic crisis.

Congress further notes:

That many students and families across the country have to make stark choices as to whether to pay the mortgages, pay colleges fees or simply put food on the table to provide for their families.

Congress also notes:

That many families are not in a position to meet mortgage repayments because they have been made redundant or have had to close their business due to the economic crisis. At present, families are bearing the full responsibility, that is losing their homes, for what can now be described as excessive lending by financial institutions. It is estimated that 36,000 mortgages are in arrears of three months or more and that 17,000 households are receiving mortgage interest supplement.

Congress is concerned:

That the financial crisis being experienced by students and families across the country is resulting increased levels of stress, anxiety and mental health issues.

Congress mandates

The President, VP Equality and VP Campaigns to work with external organisations to campaign and lobby the Government to introduce measures that support families in situations where they are unable to repay their mortgage and to ensure that families do not lose their homes.

NA12

Employability Skills Campaign Proposed by UCCSU Seconded By IT Tralee SU

Congress notes:

The focus being put on producing work-ready, world-ready graduates by the 3rd Level sector.

Congress further notes:

The lack of clarity for many students around what graduate recruiters and employers are actively seeking in graduates

Congress Mandates:

The Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance Officer and the Campaigns Officer to roll out a nationwide campaign before June 1st 2013 with the aim to inform students on what skills make them more employable and opportunities they have to develop them.

Congress further mandates:

The Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance Officer to investigate the feasibility of a national career guidance database/website for 3rd and 4th level students.

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UNION ORGANISATION MOTIONS UO1

Codes of Conduct

Proposed by NUI Galway Students’ Union Seconded by GMIT Students’ Union

Congress recognises:

That there can often be disagreement and conflict within Students’ Unions, and that there should ideally be a system in place to deal with such situations.

Congress notes:

That the behaviour of elected Students’ Union officers can be seen to reflect the behaviour of the student body of that college as a whole.

Congress mandates the USI Officerboard:

To compile a proposed Code of Conduct for both the USI Officerboard and the Member Organisations, which the Member Organisations would have the option of adopting within their own organisation. This Code should be completed and presented to National Council by 31st December 2012.

UO2

Promotional material sent out to MO’s Proposed by: IT Sligo Students’ Union Seconded by: St. Angela’s College Students’ Union

Congress notes:

Throughout the year a number of campaigns will require promotional material to be sent out to MO’s.

Congress recognises:

In the past there have been a significant proportion of materials wasted unnecessarily.

Congress mandates the Vice President for Campaigns:

To review in the first three months of their term the amount of materials each MO will need per campaign and ensure they adhere to this during the year.

UO3

National Campaign Subcommittee Proposed by: IT Tralee Students’ Union Seconded by: IT Carlow Students’ Union

Congress Notes:

The increasing financial pressure on students due to the increase of the Student Contribution Charge, and the rising cost of third level education. The national campaign subcommittee was extremely beneficial in the organisation and implementation of our anti-fees strategy.

Congress further notes:

The added pressure on the subcommittee due to time constraints.

Congress therefore mandates

USI Officer board to organise and elect members of National Council from each of the regions onto the national campaign subcommittee at the second meeting of National Council (August) during the next academic year; 2012/2013.

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UO4

Students’ Unions Merger Working Group Proposed by: USI President’s Working Group Seconded by: USI Deputy President

Congress notes:

The recent publication by the HEA of a series of papers that outline the future landscape of Higher Education.

Congress further notes:

That a number of HEIs are at advanced stages of mergers and that many other HEIs will shortly begin the application process for designation as a Technological University.

Congress recognises:

That designation as a technological university requires HEIs to have formed one single legal entity prior to the proposed technological university entering the final stage of the process. This single legal entity would have obvious ramifications for the students’ unions in HEIs who are considering a merger.

Congress mandates:

That the President and the Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance present a proposal to the first National Council of the academic year 2012/2013 for the establishment of a working group to prepare guidelines for students’ union mergers and to facilitate students’ union undergoing this process. The membership of this working group may include, but is not limited to, members of officer board, representatives of member organisations and external persons with relevant expertise. The work of the working group shall take into consideration international best practice in this area.

UO5

Summer Internship Programme Proposed by: UCCSU Seconded by: WITSU

Congress notes:

Employers are seeking graduates with skills and experience gained outside of the classroom. The National Strategy for Higher Education states repeatedly that generic and transferable skills are essential for our future workforce and must be developed by the student alongside their academic learning.

Congress also notes:

The skills available in the collective student body are vast and impressive. USI undertakes and runs a huge number of campaigns covering a wide variety of topics each year which requires research and preparation. USI Officers are expected to keep up to date with legislation affecting students.

Congress further notes:

That successful summer internship programmes have been run in local MO’s in July and August 2011. This programme elevated the workload of the sabbatical officers, allowed the students involved to gain valuable insights into the running of an organisation and development of essential generic skills and the cost to run the programme was very low. Work included website development, national policy reviews, campaign planning and class representative system review. Congress Mandates: The President to co-ordinate a summer internship programme to be completed by September 30th 2012 in consultation with MO’s who have successful run programmes.

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UO6

Quality Review of USI Proposed by UCCSU Seconded by WITSU

Congress notes:

The strategic and quality review mandate (10/UO 1) for the President is a valuable exercise in evaluating the position, strategic direction and fitness for purpose of USI

Congress believes:

Quality reviews should include a self-assessment report as well as a peer review exercise.

Congress further notes:

The Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance Officer has the relevant knowledge and training to co-ordinate such a review, which should focus on the both the strategic and operational structures of USI.

Congress Mandates:

The Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance Officer to co-ordinate a Quality Review of USI to include a self-assessment report and peer review group visit to be completed by March 31st 2013 and presented to Congress 2013. The peer review group is to include but not be limited to; • One former Officer Board Member • One Officer from an NUS UK CM • One student (non-sabbatical) from an affiliated Union • One Sabbatical Officer from an affiliated Union • One student from a non-affiliated college

UO7

Further Education Student Representation Proposed by: USI Education Officer Seconded by: USI Oifigeach na Gaeilge

Congress notes:

That the provisions in the proposed Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Bill 2011 would create a single agency from the functions previously assigned to HETAC, FETAC, NQAI and IUQB. This consolidation impacts on student representation as USI should be recognised as the sole national student representative body for students at all levels and in each sector of further and higher education.

Congress notes:

That work has progressing by recent Education Officers and Area Officer in the field of Further Education Student Representation, but that this Union currently is ill-equipped to deal with the significant demands that this places on the Union.

Congress asserts and acknowledges:

Its moral obligation to provide the means for students in Further Education to represent themselves to their own institutions, to national agencies, and to this Union to the same extent as students in higher education.

Congress therefore mandates:

The VP for AA & QA to organise the creation of a Further Education Student Representative Sub-group of USI, made up of officers of Students’ Unions, Representative Committees and Guilds in colleges of further education nationally. This Sub-group will be responsible for the promotion of, affiliation of, training, development and liaison between the Union and students in Further Education.

Congress further mandates:

The Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance Elect to develop a five year implementation strategy for USI’s FE sub-group, leading towards a fully autonomous FE campaign within USI, if appropriate at the end of that five year period.

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Congress acknowledges:

Its own dearth of experience or expertise in this field, and

Congress additionally mandates:

The President to allocate staff resources, as resources permit, to professionally manage this strategy, implement its recommendations and deliver its aims until such a time as the Union may elect a person to perform this role.

USI Education Officer Proposed Amendment:

After ‘Congress Further Mandates’ insert ‘The Education Officer and’

U08

USI Publication

Proposed by: USI Deputy President Seconded by: USI President

Congress notes:

That USI has longstanding difficulties communicating directly with its members.

Congress further notes:

The difficulties caused by this lack of communication in terms of accountability and getting students involved in campaigns.

Congress therefore mandates:

The President and the Officerboard to create a regular, professional standard publication, to inform students about the activities of the Union and events in the Higher Education Sector, to be distributed in time for Freshers Weeks in MOs, and to continue publication of issues until the end of the first semester when a cost/benefit analysis shall take place.

UO9

Promoting the USI Proposed by: Seconded by:

USI Eastern Area Officer USI Deputy President and Campaigns Officer

Congress Notes

The good work done by the Officer Board of the Union of Students in Ireland in promoting student rights and views and in advancing the student movement across the country

Congress notes with concern

That many ordinary members of Union of Students in Ireland are unaware of much of the work done by their national union and in many cases are unaware of whom their national elected representatives are

Congress notes

That the Union of Students in Ireland attends and addresses all Class Representative Trainings in each of the Member Organisations, however this represents a small cohort of our members

Congress mandates

The Vice President for Campaigns, the Vice President for the Border, Midlands and Western Region and the Vice President for the Southern Region to run a comprehensive USI awareness campaign for ordinary students incorporating Town Hall Meetings detailing the structures, purpose and functions of the USI and including information on the members of Officer Board for the next three years.

Congress further mandates

The Officer Board to produce a short monthly report for the next three years which shall detail the current achievements, objectives and the month ahead in the Union of Students in Ireland to uploaded on a monthly basis to the USI website and links will be available from the various forms of social media used by the USI and circulated to all Member Organisations for optional inclusion on their website or in their union publications.

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UO10

Promotional Materials for the USI Proposed by: Seconded by:

USI Eastern Area Officer USI Deputy President & Campaigns Officer

Congress Notes

The importance of producing promotional goods to promote the USI in each Member Organisation

Congress further notes

The importance of producing these goods in a timely fashion to coincide with Freshers Weeks across the country

Congress mandates

The Vice President for Campaigns, the Vice President for the Border, Midlands and Western Region and the Vice President for the Southern Region to produce such goods by the end of July for the next 3 years

UO11

Access & Inclusivity

Proposed by: USI Equality Working Group Seconded by: USI Western Area officer

Congress notes:

That this year USI has made a conscious effort to create an inclusive working environment to all Officers.

Congress Further notes:

How important it is to be at the forefront of an access and inclusivity for all officers. Congress therefore mandates: The President to ensure that USI continues to ensure that it achieves appropriate and reasonable accommodations for all.

UO12

Mature Students Conference Proposed by: IT Tralee Students’ Union Seconded by: IT Carlow Students’ Union

Congress Notes:

The increase in the number of mature students returning to 3rd level education, and welcomes the national mature student conference held this year.

Congress further notes:

The national mature student conference will have less of an impact on mature students if it is held near the end of semester 2.

Congress therefore mandates:

The VP Equality and Citizenship Officer to hold the mature student conference in Semester 1.

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UO13

Video Debates

Proposed by: IT Tralee Students’ Union Seconded by: IT Carlow Students’ Union

Congress Notes:

The increased level of interest amongst our grass root members in USI and the election process for new Officerboard candidates.

Congress further notes:

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union hold a very open and public Election Process that is well documented and welcomes interaction from all members along with a debate between candidates held.

Congress therefore mandates:

USI Elections Subcommittee to organise video debates between Officerboard candidates at least 2 weeks prior to the Election at Annual Congress.

UO14

Communication with Membership Proposed by: UCDSU Seconded by: DKITSU

Congress notes:

The lack of direct communication USI and its officers have with its members.

Congress believes:

That students will feel a greater part of USI and that they are receiving sufficient benefit from their membership fee if USI Officerboard regularly communicate with and inform the general student body of the work they are doing.

Therefore congress mandates:

That the President, Vice Presidents and Area Officers make and publish online videos detailing their work. These videos shall be published at least once per month.

UO15

Establishment of a USI Working Group for Member Organisation Administrators Proposed by: USI Presidents’ Working Group Seconded by: DIT Students’ Union

Congress Notes:

That USI provides many opportunities for Students’ Unions to learn from one another, and share experiences, leading to a stronger student movement nationally.

Congress Further Notes:

That staff provide invaluable support and continuity to Students’ Unions throughout the country, often with a breadth of knowledge, which stretches over many years.

Congress Notes with Regret:

That at present, there is no USI forum by which staff of Students’ Unions can share information and experiences, for the benefit of Students’ Unions and the student body.

Congress Mandates:

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The President to establish a working group of USI, which shall have membership consisting of the staff of each Member Organisation. The working group shall be chaired by a member of USI staff and shall regulate its own affairs, but shall operate within the policies and procedures of USI.


UO16 Union Organisation

Online promotion and web development strategy Proposed by UCCSU Seconded by USI Welfare Officer

Congress notes:

The importance of an effective online presence in today’s world of social media and daily internet users

Congress regrets:

The attempts thus far made by USI to take advantage of the internet have been far from effective most notably the poor website layout and Facebook followers.

Congress therefore mandates:

The President and VP Campaigns to compose an online promotion and web development strategy by October 1st 2012 and report to Congress 2013 on the implementation progress.

UO17

Crossover Training

Proposed by: USI Welfare Working Group Seconded by: USI Eastern Area Officer

Congress Notes:

The crossover period for incoming and outgoing officers is a significant training for the preparation for incoming officers.

Congress further notes:

USI have a national council in June, which has the potential to facilitate appropriate training for outgoing officer in how best they can prepare their own crossover with the incoming officer.

Congress Recognises:

The importance of UOS as it provides important preparation for incoming officers and allows them to grow in confidents in their new role.

Congress mandates:

USI President and Officerboard to develop a crossover programme at the last national council every year to best prepare outgoing officers in delivering their own crossover. This motion shall apply for 3 years.

UO18

Mature Students Conference Proposed: USI Equality Officer Seconded: USI Eastern Area Officer

Congress notes:

That USI has run its first Mature Student Conference in 2012.

Congress further notes:

The importance of running such an event for allowing for active engagement with mature students who are an important and valuable assist to our organization.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Equality and Citizenship Vice president to run such an event on a yearly basis.

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UO19

LGB T Societies

Proposed by: IT Blanchardstown Seconded by: TCDSU

Congress notes:

That the LGBT societies are the main source of contact and support for LGBT students

Congress also notes:

The great work done by USI in providing Pink Training which supports the LGBT community

Congress believes:

That this training is a great advert for USI reaching out to students across the country

Congress also believes:

That all LGBT students (and indeed many non LGBT students) could benefit from attending Pink Training

Congress therefore mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to make contact with all LGBT societies about Pink Training at least 4 weeks prior to the date for the event, and offer non-affiliate rates directly to the society where relevant.

UO20

Equality Campaign Launch and Handbook Proposed by: UCCSU Seconded by: WITSU

Congress welcomes:

The creation of the new role of the Equality and Citizenship Officer

Congress believes:

That the creation of this new role will provide USI with the opportunity to reshape and rebrand the USI Equality campaign

Congress believes:

It is vitally important to raise awareness of the Equality campaign within USI and among the organisations and community groups that the Equality and Citizenship Officer will be liaising and working with

Congress mandates:

The Equality and Citizenship Officer to organise an official re-launch event for the USI Equality campaign this autumn no later than November 1st.

Congress mandates:

The Equality and Citizenship Officer to fulfil the previous mandate of creating an Equality Handbook (09/UO 29) and to have this handbook ready to distribute at this launch

Congress mandates:

The Equality and Citizenship Officer to ensure that representatives from all relevant organisations are invited to attend this launch

UO21

Social Media Strategy

Submitted by: USI Western area officer Seconded by: USI Southern area officer

Congress notes:

The significant increase in the use of social media globally and as an organisation USI has lagged behind in using social media as a communications tool with its members.

Congress commends:

112

The on-going work by Officerboard and the social media working group in the creation of a social media strategy that will bridge the gap between where the organisation is and where it should be, to be working to the best of its ability.


Congress mandates:

The incoming officer boards over the next three years to implement the social media strategy when they start their positions with each member of Officerboard interacting on a daily basis with the USI social media outlets. This would include but not exclusively the VP of regional developments and the VP of campaigns keeping the news on each forum current with pictures of all relevant events that take place.

UO22

Ógra Conferences

Proposed by: USI Southern Area Officer Seconded by: USI Western Area Officer

Congress notes

The diverse range of political parties that exist in Ireland and acknowledges that many of these parties have Ógra branches operating in our members organisations.

Congress acknowledges

That such a diverse organisation as USI represents members with a wide variety of political opinions and beliefs.

Congress mandates

The President or Vice President Campaign of USI to attend all Ógra Conferences for the next three years when invited to do so for the next three years.

WELFARE MOTIONS WEL1

Student Assistance Fund Harmonisation Study Proposed by: USI Education Working Group Seconded by: USI Welfare Working Group

Congress notes with approval:

The recently announced increase in government funding to the Student Assistance Fund.

Congress however notes with concern:

That the source of this funding was reallocated from other student support funds, where the broad picture remains one of desperate underfunding.

Congress further notes:

That the Student Assistance Fund varies dramatically in its methodology of administration from institution to institution, and in some cases within institutions themselves.

Congress asserts:

That best practice in this area can be made common practice only with accurate data knowledge and effective monitoring.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance and the Vice President for Welfare to carry out a complete study of the administration of the Student Assistance Fund (to be complete by the 31st of December 2012) and author a best practice framework for adoption at USI Annual Congress 2013.

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WEL2

Student Accommodation Proposed by: STACS Seconded by: IT Sligo SU

Congress notes:

That a number of student accommodation villages have gone into receivership in the past couple of years.

Congress notes with concern:

That this has caused financial uncertainty for students and their families and that the welfare of students has been put at risk.

Congress congratulates:

The Welfare Officer and Officer Board for their dedicated hard work with regard to the introduction of the Deposit Protection Scheme and the production of the useful annual resource of the USI Rent Book.

Congress mandates:

The VP / Welfare to formulate a policy document on the entitlements of students when their designated student villages go into receivership. This should involve offering support and advice to MOs if the situation arises and some points of information on the issue should be included in the USI Rent Book. The mandate shall lapse after three years from being passed at congress.

WEL3

Sexual health web site

Proposed by: USI Welfare Working Group Seconded by: USI LGBT Officer

Congress Notes:

There is large amount of paper material distributed in conjunction with sexual health campaigns.

Congress recognizes:

The lack of a one-stop shop for sexual health information and support services on line

Congress mandates the Welfare Vice President:

To develop an all-inclusive web site which will contain relevant information about sexual health that can be used in conjunction with sexual health campaigns. Motion shall apply for 3 years

WEL4

Alcohol Abuse Proposed by: Seconded by:

IT Sligo Students’ Union St. Angela’s College Students’ Union

Congress notes:

That alcohol consumption in Ireland doubled between 1970 and 2003, one the largest increases in the world during that period (Byrne, 2010).

Congress recognises:

Though consumption has fallen slightly since 2003, Irish consumption at 13.4 litres of pure alcohol per person is the second highest in the OECD (Mongan, 2007).

Congress notes with concern:

114

That the increase in alcohol consumption has caused a corresponding increase in alcohol related harms in Irish society, including alcohol related accidents and illnesses, alcohol related crime, alcohol related domestic abuse and alcohol related absences from work (Hope, 2008).


Congress understands:

That the Department of Health (RoI) and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (NI) have held a North South conference on alcohol misuse in January to explore some of the common issues in relation to the alcohol culture on both sides of the border. Both Departments recognizing the scope for sharing information and evidence based material, on an all-island basis, in a number of areas including the tackling of alcohol abuse.

Congress believes:

That the issue of alcohol abuse significantly impacts on the welfare of our members. Furthermore, that we as representatives; entrusted with protecting the interests our members, should be proactive in addressing the issue of alcohol abuse.

Congress mandates the President, the Vice President for Welfare, and the NUS-USI President:

To engage with the Department of Health (RoI), the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (NI), before July 2013 in addressing the issue of alcohol abuse.

WEL5

Exam Stress Packs Proposed by: Seconded by:

IT Sligo Students’ Union St. Angela’s College Students’ Union

Congress notes:

That many students experience, incidences of elevated stress and anxiety around the examination period.

Congress notes with concern:

The affects of increased stress and anxiety on students’ physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, and the subsequent impact on their examination performance.

Congress congratulates:

The Welfare Officer and members of Officerboard for their hard work in tacking issues surrounding students’ physical, mental, and emotional welfare.

Congress believes:

That students should be provided with adequate support and guidance around the issue of stress and anxiety, including how to diagnose the condition, what affects it has on students, what self help techniques are recommended, and general management advice.

Congress mandates the Vice President for Welfare:

To develop and source a stress pack and booklet to be distributed to MO’s before the winter and summer exams. These should be available for December 2012.

WEL6

Drink Responsibly Campaign

Proposed by: IT Sligo Students’ Union Seconded by: St. Angela’s College Students’ Union

Congress notes:

That alcohol consumption has increased substantially in the past number of years and Ireland now consumes more alcohol per adult than most of its European counterparts.

Congress is saddened:

By the linkages drawn between alcohol and related harm, with reference to a report by the HSE in 2008, including; injuries, hospital admissions, mortality, driving, street violence, domestic violence, and road injuries.

Congress applauds:

The Welfare Officer for engaging with Drink Aware, and other related groups in creating awareness about excessive alcohol consumption, and promoting the responsible consumption of alcohol.

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Congress believes:

That the issue of alcohol abuse significantly impacts on the welfare of our members.

Congress further believes:

That as student representatives we should be proactive in creating awareness around the issue of excessive alcohol consumption, and campaign for responsibility in this area.

Congress mandates the Vice President for Welfare:

To develop and implement a USI National Drink Responsibly Campaign before July 2013, and to carry out same on an annual basis thereafter in order to create awareness around alcohol consumption rates, and encourage its responsible consumption.

WEL7

Suicide Prevention Campaign Proposed by: IT Tralee Students’ Union Seconded by: IT Carlow Students’ Union

Congress Notes:

The level of work the previous Welfare Officer has put into the Mental Health Campaign for the student population.

Congress also notes:

The difficulty in designing a campaign or highlighting the issue of suicide prevention/ awareness which is not threatening to students.

Congress recognises:

That suicide remains a key issue for students.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Welfare Officer to organise, design and run a National Suicide Prevention Campaign that would be rolled out right across the Country on a Specific Day.

WEL8

Student Assistance Fund Proposed by: UCDSU Seconded by: DKITSU

Congress notes:

That the HEA allocated an additional €4million to the Student Assistance Fund this year.

Congress further notes:

That this funding was allocated on a one-off basis.

Congress believes:

The additional funding secured for the Student Assistance Fund had a very significant positive impact on the financial supports available to students struggling financially.

Therefore congress mandates:

That the President, Campaigns Vice-President and Welfare Vice-President lobby the HEA, TD’s and other relevant parties to ensure that this amount is again allocated to the Student Assistance Fund for the 2012/2013 academic year.

WEL9

Physical Health Strategy for USI Proposed by: USI Welfare Officer Seconded by: USI Welfare Working Group

Congress notes

11/WEL 02 mandating the creation of a USI Physical Health Strategy.

Congress therefore adopts the proposed USI Physical Health Strategy 2012-2015.

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Congress Mandates:

The Welfare Vice President to both follow the USI Physical Health Strategy and assist local officers in following through with its recommendations by disseminating the strategy at the start of the year as well as providing support and training throughout the year. This motion should apply for three years

WEL10

Alcohol Policy for USI Proposed by: USI Welfare Officer Seconded by: UCCSU

Congress notes:

11/ Wel 4 mandates the creation of strategy documents in the main areas of work for the welfare officer, including sexual health, finance, physical health, accommodation, alcohol awareness, substance abuse and any others that are appropriate.

Congress therefore adopts the proposed USI Alcohol Policy 2012-2015

Congress therefore deletes:

11/ Wel 11 Anti Social Behavior Campaign 10/ Wel 3 Student and Alcohol 10/ Wel 8 Anti-Social Behavior 09/ Wel 8 Drug Awareness 09/ 13 Alcohol Awareness Campaign

Congress Mandates the Welfare Vice President:

To both follow the USI Alcohol Policy and assist local officers in following through with its recommendations and action points by disseminating the policy at the start of the year as well as providing support and training throughout the year. This motion should apply for three years

WEL11

Abortion Rights Campaign

Proposed by: USI Welfare Officer Seconded by: USI Education Working Group

Congress notes:

USI is mandated to lobby the government and other relevant bodies to develop greater access to abortion services for all women within the state (06/WEL 6 Abortion & 09/Wel 2 Abortion Rights Campaign.).

Congress recognizes:

Many Students Unions and Organisation view the issue of abortion as an issue of equality and women’s rights across the world. Twenty years have passed since judgment of the X case and the government is yet to legislate in accordance with the judgment.

Congress further recognizes:

That the issue is one of concern for Student Union Officers around the country.

Congress acknowledges:

The establishment of the Safe and Legal (in Ireland) Abortion Rights Campaign which aims to end the hypocrisy of exiling women in crisis pregnancy that choose to have an abortion. The campaign includes various strands, including a litigation strand, a public awareness strand and a national and international advocacy strand.

Congress mandates:

The Welfare Vice President and Equality & Citizenship Vice President to work with the Safe and Legal (in Ireland) Abortion Rights Campaign and Irish Family Planning Association to once again make this issue a priority for Irish Women and a priority for the country.

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Congress further mandates

The Welfare Vice-President and Equality & Citizenship Vice President to raise awareness of the Safe and Legal (in Ireland) Abortion Rights Campaign to USI members and ensure the Government enact the measure set about from the X Case judgment. This motion should apply for 3 years.

WEL12

HEA Support of an efficient and student friendly Student Assistant Fund (SAF) Application process. Proposed by: Dublin Institute of Technology Students’ Union Seconded by: Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union

Congress Notes:

The essential role the SAF plays in the lives of many students studying in HEI’s across the country.

Congress Notes:

That, with increasing number of applicants, paper and un-student friendly application forms increases the administration work load and slows down the process for students.

Congress Applauds:

Students’ Unions and HEI’s that have adopted an online and/or student friendly application process.

Congress Notes with Concern:

The fact that the HEA requires over 50 items of information on each applicant and the high level of time spent adhering to this requirement, due to the fact that this feedback is not online.

Congress Mandates:

The USI Vice President of Welfare to lobby the HEA to encourage the adoption of an online, student friendly application process by providing technological support, training and resources to services that administrate the fund. This mandate must be fulfilled by the end of June 2012.

Congress Further Mandates:

The USI Vice President of Welfare, to lobby the HEA to facilitate an easier and less time consuming forum by which the feedback of information on the applicants can be done. This mandate must be fulfilled by the end of June 2012.

WEL13

Substance Abuse

Proposed by: USI Welfare Working Group Seconded by: USI Southern Area Officer

Congress notes

That substance abuse is a growing problem in Irish society.

Congress further notes

09/Wel 5 – Counselling Service and 09/Wel 8 – Drug awareness mandates as these demonstrate the need for a formulated strategy document to be created in the area of substance abuse.

Congress mandates the Welfare Vice President

To create a Substance abuse strategy document that would contain information in relation to drug awareness, campaigns, how to combat addictions and other items deemed essential to be included by welfare working group. Appropriate training should be provided for Welfare Officers over the summer period so they can handle cases in this area. This motion shall apply till December 2012.

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WEL14

Exam Stress Campaign

Proposed by: USI Southern Area Officer Seconded by: USI Welfare Officer

Congress notes

The work that MOs put into Exam Stress Campaigns across the Country in the run up to Exams.

Congress further notes

The lack of support on a National Level to the roll out of these Campaigns and the lack of an overall Exam Stress Campaign.

Congress mandates the VP/South, VP/BMW and the Welfare Officer

To investigate the possibility of sourcing the materials, supplying and distributing ‘Exam Stress Packs’ to the MOs along with a resource pack that contains information on support services for the students.

RÚIN NA GAEILGE IL1

Support of Teaching through Irish Proposed by NUI Galway Students’ Union Seconded by GMIT Students’ Union

Congress recognises

The special status of the Irish Language in the National University of Ireland, Galway and also the special recognition of the language in the USI.

Feictear don Chomhdháil seo

Go bhfuil meath leanúnach ag tarlú bliain i ndiaidh bliana ar líon na n-��bhar a mhúintear trí Ghaeilge ar phríomh champas Ollscoil na hÉireann Gaillimh. Anuas air sin, tá imeallú fisiciúil agus tíreolaíochta ag tarlú don Ghaeilge, tá sí á brú amach go dtí campais an Acadaimh sa Ghaeltacht agus de réir a chéile tá sí le cluinstin níos lú agus níos lú i hallaí léachta an phríomh champais. Cé go bhfuil líon mór scoláirí ag déanamh staidéir trí Ghaeilge sna campais Gaeltachta, is cúrsaí de chineál eile ar fad atá iontu siúd agus tá an teanga á ruaigeadh amach as na daonnachtaí agus na heolaíochtaí i gcampas chathair na Gaillimhe.

Congress opposes

The move away from teaching through Irish on the main campus in NUIG over recent years, and furthermore the USI commits to supporting all campaign efforts to retain and restore the teaching of academic subjects through the Irish language.

Congress notes

That under the 1929 University College, Galway Act NUIG has a special responsibility towards teaching in the native language. While it is no longer a requirement of the University to give priority to Irish speakers when recruiting academic staff, it is none the less required to support, promote and expand on the teaching of academic subjects through Irish.

Congress therefore mandates

The USI Oifigeach na Gaeilge to campaign on this issue and to support the NUIG Irish language community and SU Oifigeach na Gaeilge in this campaign, within the next year.

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Congress furthermore mandates

The President to raise this concern on the board of the HEA within the next year.

IL2

Subjects in Irish in NUIG Proposed by: Oifigeach na Gaeilge Seconded by: NUIGSU

Congress notes: The key role NUIG has in the Stráitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge, in terms of providing subjects both in Irish and English. Congress applauds: The work done by an t-Oifigeach Gaeilge, NUIG, to increase the amount of subjects available through Irish. Congress mandates: The Irish Language officer and the incoming Vice-President for the Irish Language, to coordinate with and maintain the campaign to increase the amount of subjects in Irish in NUIG.

CITIZENSHIP MOTIONS CZN1

National Charity Fundraising Day Proposed by: USI Eastern Area Officer Seconded by: USI Welfare Officer

Congress Notes:

The importance of raising money for USI’s national charity.

Congress Further Notes:

USI’s ability to attract media attention, and organise mass student participation in groundlevel events.

Congress Notes with Concern:

The lack of publicity and fundraising currently given to USI’s national charity.

Congress Mandates:

The Vice President for Campaigns, the Vice President for the Border, Midlands and Western Region and the Vice President for the Southern Region to explore the feasibility of a National Fundraising Day for the next 3 years, with the aim of involving all Member Organisations in dedicated fundraising activities once a year.

CZN2

Students in the Workplace

Proposed by: Dublin Institute of Technology Students’ Union Seconded by: Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union

Congress Notes:

That in order to help fund their education, many students take up a part time job.

Congress Welcomes:

The decision to reverse the cut to the minimum wage, which targeted students in part time jobs who are already struggling financially.

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Congress Notes with Concern:

That in many of these jobs, trade union membership is absent and in some places discouraged. Furthermore, many students are unaware of what their rights and entitlements are in relation to time off, payment and hours.

Congress Mandates:

The Vice President of Equality and Citizenship to better inform students of their rights in the workplace by providing information that is set out by the LRC, NERA and Employment legislation. This mandate should be completed within the first quarter of the Academic Year.

CZN3

USI Student Participation Awards Proposed by: USI Southern Area Officer Seconded by: USI Western Area Officer

Congress recognises

A lot of unrecognised valuable work is completed by MOs of USI each year across a wide range of areas and that many students work tirelessly for the betterment of Students’ Union and Clubs and Societies.

Congress acknowledges

That the range of work completed is diverse and covers a vast area of extracurricular activities and that there is little recognition for these students in a formal capacity.

Congress notes

The success of the BICS Awards and NUS Awards in the UK.

Congress believes

That the students who work hard in these extracurricular activities should be recognised and acknowledged.

Congress therefore mandates Officerboard

To organise USI Student Participation Awards whereby students will be accredited for their involvement in local Students’ Unions, USI Campaigns and involvement in Clubs and Societies. The President and Officer Board to bring forward to the first National Council of 2012/2013 a cohesive plan for the Student Participation Awards which should include the categories that will be included in the Award Ceremony, who will be eligible, how they will be run and judged, deadlines and any other preparation needed.

CZN4

Voting Rights for Citizens Living Abroad Proposed by: USI Western area officer Seconded by: USI Southern Area Officer

Congress recognises:

That high unemployment has meant many of our friends, relatives and neighbours have been forced to leave Ireland in search of work elsewhere, and that as in generations past, we are exporting many of our best and brightest individuals, and that many of these will settle in their new homes and spend the rest of their lives there. This legacy of forced emigration has had an extremely detrimental effect on the life of our nation and our State, and that indeed; Ireland is the only country in the world which has a lower population now than in 1845.

Congress further recognises:

That over the past twenty years, the various holders of the office of President of Ireland have reached out to the Irish abroad, and that Article 2 of the Constitution states how “the Irish nation cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry living abroad who share its cultural identity and heritage”. Despite this, Ireland is one of the very few countries in the world which still denies voting rights to those citizens who are not resident in the State.

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Congress notes:

That there are over a million Irish citizens currently living outside the State, including many in Northern Ireland, alongside another two to three million people who have a claim on Irish citizenship. Congress also notes that as a community, these people are no less Irish and care no less about Ireland because they have emigrated, and that accordingly, they should not be unreasonably excluded from the life of the nation and the State.

Congress mandates the USI:

To adopt a policy which calls on the government to extend the right to vote in elections for the President of Ireland to all Irish citizens living outside the State. The exact mechanism to be used in such elections should be determined by the government, as long as it encourages as wide a participation among the Irish abroad in these elections as is reasonably possible, but with particular regard to the opportunities which technology offers in reaching these people. To include this policy in future Lobby of the Oireacthas documents and to approach all the registered political parties seeking support on this policy.

Congress mandates the USI President:

To write to each of the elected officers of each member organisation in September 2012 asking them to present this policy for approval at their decision-making body of students, such as a class representatives council.

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PRIORITISED POLICIES 09/ED 6

Maintenance Grant Congress notes

That the maintenance grant is one of the most important issues for students in further and higher education as it is the primary source of financial support available.

Congress recognises

That since the introduction of the maintenance grant in 1973, USI has been at the forefront in campaigning for changes to the maintenance grant to ensure that it assists as many students as possible, provides a decent level of financial support and that the administration of the maintenance grant is flexible, efficient and student-friendly.

Congress recognises

That these priorities have been consistently re-affirmed at numerous congresses through different mandates, highlighting the commitment of USI and constituent organisations to reforming the maintenance grant system so that it serves those who need it.

Congress regrets

That while each of these mandates is laudable it has created a patchwork of twelve motions that, in parts, contradict each other and make the creation of a co-ordinated and effective maintenance grants campaign more difficult than necessary.

Congress recognises

That in order for a campaign to be effective it requires clear, concise goals and a defined, unitary policy

Congress therefore mandates

The repealing and deletion from the USI policy manual of 08 / ED 3, 08 / ED 13, 08 / ED 18, 07 / ED 1, 06 / ED 1, 06 / ED 4, 06 / ED 20, 05 / ED 4, 04 / ED 1, 04 / ED 7, 08 / UO 28, 07 / EQ 3, 05 / WEL 10.

Congress further mandates the education officer and deputy president

To conduct the maintenance grant campaign, under the auspices of the education officer, in accordance with the following policies: Grant payment levels & reckonable income limits Maintenance grant payment levels to be raised to that of unemployment assistance and to parallel any and all increases in it. Income limits to be increased in line with average annual growth in income as determined by the central statistics grant office and, if annual incomes decline, for the limits not to be decreased. All payments to be made the same day to all recipients of the maintenance grant via electronic payment every month with a bonus payment in September to allow students to meet deposits for rented accommodation. Family status The recognition of the circumstances of single parents and students with dependents A new category of ‘independent learner under 23’ to be created which will allow students under the age of 23 who are estranged from their parents and/or living independently to be assessed on their own personal income.

123


Approved courses & institutions The distinction between full-time and part-time courses to be removed and the term replaced with approved courses in order to allow students on part-time courses to apply for the maintenance grant. Students in private colleges to be allowed apply for the maintenance grant Nationality status Dependents of refugees to be eligible to apply for the maintenance grant A change in the regulations to allow the non-national parents of Irish born children apply. Residency requirement The ‘residency requirement’ for the maintenance grant to be abolished for all applicants with EU nationality The ‘residency requirement’ for the maintenance grant to be abolished for all applicants who is a spouse of an EU or Irish national and is or has been employed in the state The ‘residency requirement’ for the maintenance grant to be abolished for all applicants who is a child of an EU or Irish national and does not have emu nationality The ‘residency requirement’ for the maintenance grant to be abolished for all applicants who are nationals of the EEA or Switzerland Application process & awarding authorities The creation of a single agency to handle all aspects of the maintenance grant and for this agency to be under the auspices of the department of social & family affairs The application form to be revised, streamlined and simplified in consultation with USI Method for means testing eligibility for the maintenance grant to be reformed A simplified process of re-applying for students in receipt of the maintenance grant should be devised and they should be informed of a decision before the start of the academic year Applications for the maintenance grant should be opened immediately after the CAO closing date in February 1st and all applicants should be notified of a decision before the start of the academic year Official application forms should be made available online and an online application process offered Maintenance grant regulations The four schemes within the maintenance grant to be merged into a single scheme with the ‘best practice’ elements of each preserved Abolish the ‘continuous stream of education’ regulation and permit the status of a candidate to change once they meet the criteria for the new status Student support bill USI officer board shall continue to lobby the department of education & science and politicians for the enactment of the student support bill as a matter of urgency It shall also campaign for amendments to the student support bill in accordance with the above principles and lobby the department of education & science and politicians for this. It shall also work with relevant stakeholders to build momentum to reform the student support bill. Information for constituent organisations Provide a module on the maintenance grant/student support bill at UOS for education and welfare officers Update the USI education handbook annually with information on the maintenance grant and/or produce a short guide for CO’s

124


Information for students Produce the USI grants poster and distribute to all third-level institutions Produce a USI guide to applying for the maintenance grant and distribute to second-level students through (where possible) ISSU, guidance counsellors, principals, teachers’ unions and the department of education & science Campaigning for change USI to lobby TDs, ministers and councillors to reform the maintenance grant in line with the above policies All awarding bodies that are late paying the maintenance grant to be publicly named and shamed. The deputy president/campaigns officer shall, with the assistance of the education officer, be responsible for the public aspect of the campaign including any and all public demonstrations, protests, poster campaigns, letter-writing campaigns etc.

09/ED 15

Quality Assurance Congress notes

That quality assurance is an increasingly important issue facing higher and further education and one which USI needs a strong, coordinated campaign on.

Congress also notes

That USI currently has eight existing motions relating to the area of quality assurance, each with different mandates and emphases.

Congress recognises

That while each motion covers an important topic, it has created a disparate and sometimes sectoral approach to quality assurance that prohibits the development of a coherent campaign that could affect real change.

Congress also recognises

That as USI represents students across all sectors of further and higher education, it must establish a common set of principles that will underpin and inform the organisation’s approach to quality assurance

Congress therefore mandates

The repealing and deletion from the USI policy manual of 08 / ED 11, 07 / ED 8, 07 / ED 9, 07 / ED 17, 06 / ED 3, 06 / ED 19, 05 / ED 20 and 05 / ED 24 with immediate effect.

Congress further mandates

That USI adopts the following guidelines as its policy on quality assurance to be implemented by the education officer:

Aims and principles:

‘Quality assurance’ includes processes such as evaluation, accreditation and audit. Students have a right to a high quality of education and to have that education reviewed and assessed regularly The interests of students as well as employers and wider society are served through good quality higher education Institutional autonomy, tempered by a recognition that this brings with it heavy responsibilities The need for external quality assurance to be fit for its purpose and to place only an appropriate and necessary burden on institutions for the achievement of its objectives Centrality of student involvement and representation at all levels of the quality assurance process

125


QA mechanisms should result in demonstrative improvements and that these improvements should be communicated back to students All elements of the QA process shall be transparent and accountable Quality Assurance of Modules, Programmes and Academic Units (General Principles) Institutions should have policy, procedures and formal mechanisms for the quality assurance of their programmes and awards Institutions should have a culture which recognises the importance of quality, and quality assurance, in their work Each institution should have a central quality assurance office and/or committee that oversees the implementation of QA; this body shall have student representation All panels formed to conduct a QA review should have student representation All panels formed to conduct a QA review should have expert external representation The quality of teaching staff shall be periodically reviewed as part of any programme, academic unit or institutional review and shall be commented on in the final report The quality of education provided should be the central element in a review and each module and programme shall be assessed as to whether it is meeting its stated learning outcomes The appropriateness of the stated learning outcomes as they support a high quality education should also be reviewed Any and all QA reviews should also examine the quality of resources to support student learning including information systems, library resources and any and all other relevant services Modules should be assessed annually with programmes and academic units reviewed on a cyclical basis with programmes reviewed at least once every three years and academic units at least once every five years All quality assurance evaluations (module, programme, academic unit) should be made available online and all module and programme reviews be distributed to the students affected Following each assessment an action plan and timeline to implement the recommendations should be produced and communicated to students External Quality Review of Institutions (General Principles) All institutions should be subject to review at least once every seven years Panels should be chosen and overseen by the accreditation and/or awarding body All panels should have student representation from a different institution with the pool of student representatives drawn up in consultation with USI All panels formed to conduct an institutional review should have expert external representation All panels should be fully independent and free of any influence or conflict of interest Guidelines for institutional reviews should be drawn up by the accreditation agency based on standardised best practice, such as ENQA’s ‘standards and guidelines’ As part of the review process the institution should produce a self-assessment report which should include progress on the recommendations of the previous report The effectiveness and suitability of the institution’s internal QA policies, procedures and mechanisms should be assessed The review should also examine the overall quality of the student experience, learning resources, information systems, institutional culture (academic and professional) and academic structure

126

All institutional review reports should be made available online and all module and


programme reviews be distributed to the students affected Following each assessment an action plan and timeline to implement the recommendations should be produced and communicated to students and the institution

National Quality Assurance Agency

USI will lobby for the establishment of one quality assurance and accreditation body for the further and higher education sectors There should be at least one USI representative on its main committee, and USI representation on all relevant sub-committees The body should have statutory powers with regards to quality assurance in the whole third-level sector and accreditation and delegation of authority in the IOT sector The body should be responsible for commissioning and carrying out all institutional reviews It should draw up a series of best practice guidelines for assessment and QA mechanisms and these should form the basis of QA policies and procedures in the third-level sector This body should seek membership and accreditation through the European Quality Assurance Register (EQAR) It shall be subject to review once every 7 years and this shall involve consultation with USI

Student Participation in Quality Assurance

Student participation in quality assurance is essential in order to ensure that any QA system is credible The institution seeks to enshrine the value of student participation in quality assurance activities at module, programme, departmental, faculty and institutional level. Each institution should produce a guide for new students and should aim to produce a quality assurance handbook Student representation on all QA fora is essential The student representation system should be designed to afford opportunities for student engagement in decision-making and quality management arrangements USI Campaign on Quality Assurance USI will campaign to ensure high quality teaching and QA standards throughout the further and higher education sectors in accordance with the policies above USI will engage with the department of education & science, FETAC, HETAC, HEA and the NQAI and all other relevant stakeholders to ensure the above A survey regarding the different forms of QA used and level of implementation throughout further and higher education in Ireland will be conducted and the results distributed to CO’s USI shall produce, or work with any sectoral body producing, a handbook for students on quality assurance detailing the rights of students and the importance of student involvement in QA The USI education officer shall assist constituent organisations in developing and implementing QA policies in accordance with the above principles The USI education officer shall assist constituent organisations in designing and producing materials to inform students about QA procedures and their right to a high quality education.

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09/ED 8

Teachers Standards Congress recognises

That in a significant number of cases the quality of 3rd level teaching is suffering as institutions place emphasis on other areas, such as 4th level education which can act as a source of income.

Congress also recognises

That refresher training in the latest techniques and practices for effective 3rd level teaching leads to improves quality in teaching practices and a better experience for students.

Congress notes with concern

The fact that 3rd level quality assurance reviews are in many cases inadequate and in some cases, such as that of the university sector, are not mandatory.

Congress mandates

The president and education officer to lobby the HEA to introduce mandatory quality of teaching reviews for all third level institutions

Congress also mandates

The president and education officer to lobby for the government to implement a nationwide policy of refresher training for all new academic staff in 3rd level institutes based on similar pilot schemes, such as that implemented in the Dublin institute of technology

Congress also mandates

The president to seek the support of other relevant unions, such as the TUI and IFUT, in accomplishing these goals

09/ED 1

Tuition Fees Congress notes

That it has long been a core principle of the student movement that education should be accessible to all people.

Congress recognises

That tuition fees constitute a serious barrier to entry into third level education.

Congress strongly believes

That education is a public and social good, which benefits not only the individual but the wider society. It should therefore be paid through progressive taxation like all public services. Investing in education is one of the most important investments we can make; not only does having an educated population strengthen our economy, but graduates pay on average 70% more in tax and have thus directly repaid the cost of their degree through taxation within ten years. Importantly, providing a college education to all is an important factor in creating a fair and more democratic society with equal opportunity for all.

Congress further notes

That the OECD’s “education at a glance 2008” lists Ireland at the top of selected industrialised countries for “providing the most equitable access to higher education”. This shows that the abolition of fees has had a significant impact on increasing equity of access, despite successive governments’ failure to follow up the success of free fees with a corresponding commitment to educational equality across the board.

Congress further notes

That in two decades Ireland has seen an increase in access to third level education from 20% to 55%, and that a large factor in this has been the abolition of third level fees.

Congress believes

128

That the economic crisis means that now, more than ever Ireland must make education accessible to all, in order to equip our people with the skills and knowledge that will help them innovate, create new jobs and attract foreign investment. Ireland’s future depends on investing in its people.


Congress notes

That the cost of going to college in Ireland is, according to bank of Ireland’s cost of college survey, €38,000 for a four year degree. This cost will rise significantly if fees are introduced.

Congress condemns

The proposals by minister for education and science to reintroduce third level fees, and his attempts to raise the registration fee to €1,500 per year, which is a tuition fee higher than almost any other European country charges for their public universities and colleges.

Congress hereby reaffirms

Its commitment to an equal, fair and accessible education system, and to the complete abolition of tuition fees, including the registration fee.

Congress notes

The huge campaigns in 2002/03 and 2008/09 run by USI to oppose tuition fees.

Congress mandates

USI officer board to redouble its efforts to fight fees in any guise and to continue to place this issue at the centre of its lobbying and campaigning efforts.

Congress calls for

A commitment by the government to fund third level education and all essential services through progressive taxation, where those on higher incomes pay the most.

Congress urges

All local students’ unions to recognise their central role in the national campaign against fees, and to make fees their priority as students’ union representatives and as members of the national union. The usi is not officer board – it is all members. Therefore all members are responsible for engaging with the campaign.

09/ED 2

Student Loans/Graduate Tax Congress notes

That the principle that education should be accessible to all people, has always been a core value of the student movement.

Congress strongly believes

That education is a public and social good, which benefits not only the individual but the wider society. It should therefore be paid through progressive taxation like all public services. Investing in education is one of the most important investments we can make; not only does having an educated population strengthen our economy, but graduates pay on average 70% more in tax and have thus directly repaid the cost of their degree through taxation within ten years. Providing education to all citizens equally is fundamental principle for any fair society.

Congress notes

The 2005 study in the UK by Professor Claire Callender and Jonathan Jackson that shows that for those on lower or middle income backgrounds in the UK, the fear of debt is a significant barrier to entry to third level education in the UK. This is a result of the student loans system in the UK.

Congress also notes

The research by Professor Kathleen Lynch of UCD’s equality studies centre on the Australian HECS system, that shows the detrimental impact that a deferred loans system can have on equity of access to third level and on increasing student impoverishment.

Congress notes

That Australia’s education minister Julia Gillard has described the HECS student loans system as “at best complex and at worst anomalous, inconsistent and irrational”.

Congress notes

That the cost of going to college in Ireland is, according to bank of Ireland’s cost of college survey, €38,000 for a four year degree. This cost will rise significantly if a loans system is brought in, placing third level education out of reach for many.

129


Congress also notes

That the fairest and most egalitarian way of paying for higher education is through a progressive taxation system.

Congress condemns

The suggestions by minister for education Batt O’Keeffe that an Australian-style student loans system might be introduced in Ireland, at the same time as the Australian government itself is recognising that the system doesn’t work.

Congress also opposes

The suggestions by some politicians for a graduate tax. Graduates already pay 70% more in tax than non-graduates, therefore a graduation tax is not necessary nor is it fair.

Congress mandates

USI officer board to continue to oppose fees in any guise, including student loans and a graduate taxation system.

Congress calls for

Investment through progressive taxation in a fair, equitable education system from primary to third level, whereby those on higher incomes pay higher taxes which funds all essential services. This is an investment in strengthening our economy as well as creating fairness in our society. 

09/ED 11

Bologna Process Congress notes

That the bologna process has, since its inception in 1999, become one of the most important and dominant themes in further and higher education in Europe with significant reforms being introduced throughout Europe and here in Ireland as a result of the bologna process.

Congress further notes

That the reforms introduced as part of the bologna process have seen a dramatic transformation in further and higher education, much of which has been positive.

Congress recognises

That these reforms have, however, also introduced considerable uncertainty into further and higher education and there is a need to ensure that as part of the bologna process, the quality of education is not undermined.

Congress welcomes

That the union of students in Ireland has been involved at both a national and European level in the formation and development of policy in the key areas of the bologna process.

Congress regrets

That on an issue as critical as the bologna process, which is now entering second decade, USI does not have official, formalised policy on the bologna process.

Congress believes

That it is imperative that the national students’ union develop policy on an issue that is having and will have a profound impact on its membership.

Congress therefore mandates

The immediate repealing and deletion from the policy manual of 08 / ED 6, 07 / ED 12, 06 / ED 7, 06 / 21, 05 / ED 9, 04 / ED 8 And 04 / ED 13.

Congress further mandates USI to adopt the following principles on the Bologna process to be implemented by the president and the education officer

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Bologna process (general principles) USI welcomes the creation of the bologna process and the importance of education and educational co-operation in the development and strengthening of stable, peaceful and democratic societies


The bologna process should be based on creating opportunities for mobility within higher education in Europe and should not be focused on purely developing a higher education system that suits the needs of enterprise and employers USI strongly believes that the over-arching goal of the bologna process should be to create a student-centred learning environment that is flexible, transparent, accessible to all and encourages the development of lifelong learning Future development of the bologna process must be driven through consultation and cooperation with all relevant stakeholders, which must include student representatives The bologna process should aim for significant and continuous improvement in the standard of education provided to students and that students are full and complete partners within institutions and at sectoral, national and European levels. Education must also be transparent with embedded and appropriate QA mechanisms focused on improving standards and academic provision Social dimension Participation in further and higher education must be widened and the demographic of these sectors should reflect the diversity of the population of the signatory countries to the bologna process Further and higher education is a public good and should primarily be publicly funded USI is opposed to any and all attempts to privatise further and higher education USI strongly welcomes the commitment enshrined in the bologna process to student services and will work with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that student services are adequately resourced and improved in line with the needs of students All obstacles to participation further and higher education should be removed and USI will campaign strongly on this The social dimension of the bologna process must continue to be one of the central action lines of the bologna process Mobility Increased opportunities for student and staff mobility as a result of the bologna process is to be welcomed and contributes positively to the academic and personal development of students There should be a mobility target of 20% of the student population by 2020. The participative equity within this 20% must be improved and institutions must create measures to ensure that credits gained during mobility are recognised on return A central mobility fund should be created and contributed to by EHEA countries and financed according to the principle of public financing USI believes that higher education institutions should provide extensive language tuition to students to encourage and promote mobility The USI education officer and the USI equality officer shall campaign and lobby for the simplification of visa and work permit rules and procedures to allow for greater mobility and to prevent mobile students being subject to undue stress, difficulties and discrimination Qualifications frameworks and recognition USI supports the adoption and implementation of the ECTS credit system whereby each academic year is comprised of 60 ECTS with each module being in multiples of 5 ECTS (e.g. 5, 10, 15 etc.). An ECTS credit should represent 20 – 25 hrs of student input including, but not limited to, lectures, assignments, self-directed learning, study and practical classes and placements USI welcomes and supports the development of modularisation where a module represents a block of teaching and learning with a combination of linked modules constituting a programme. Semesterisation, whereby the academic year is comprised of two equal length teaching

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terms, is welcomed by USI. However, there should not be a nationally standardised set of term dates. USI welcomes the introduction of learning outcomes, defined as “learning outcomes are statements of what a student is expected to know, understand and/or be able to demonstrate after completion of a process of learning�. All modules, subjects and programmes must be designed around learning outcomes which are regularly quality assessed to ensure they are appropriate and fir for purpose. Learning outcomes must be used to create a studentcentred learning environment and may not be used to create a b0ox-ticking environment USI continues to support the national framework of qualifications and shall campaign to ensure that learning outcomes align with the knowledge, skills and competencies associated with the relevant level of the NFQ. All qualifications in further and higher education should be comparable and readable so that a student’s qualifications can be mapped on to both the European qualifications framework and the qualifications framework of all countries in the bologna process with ease. The comparability should be verified for the student by the relevant authority (such as ENIC-NARIC) free of charge. The USI education officer shall run a campaign, in conjunction with constituent organisations, to raise awareness of the NFQ and to ensure that no student is disadvantaged by its operation

The Bologna Process after 2010

The bologna process must continue as a intergovernmental, non-legal framework based on cooperation A fund should be created to support common projects and events on relevant topics approved by the bologna follow-up group, so that a more diverse group of countries to participate and take the lead in the follow-up activities ministers should acknowledge that there has been inconsistent implementation of the reforms at a grassroots level, and develop checks and measure to ensure the implementation of the bologna process at the national and institutional level is in a comprehensive and integrated manner. Ministries must not only make a firm commitment to inclusion of students as full partners in their national reforms, but must ensure that this is also being implemented. Moreover, a commitment must come from ministries and institutions to include students in all decision making processes at all levels. A sustainable way of financing the bologna process by the member states must be developed.

USI Bologna Process Campaign

USI reaffirms that the bologna process is of extreme importance to the education that students will receive USI shall undertake all necessary effort, under the direction of the USI education officer, to assist constituent organisations in ensuring the proper implementation of all bologna process related reforms USI will promote awareness of the bologna process and of related reforms and opportunities to students through constituent organisations USI will work with all relevant stakeholders sectorally, nationally and internationally to ensure adequate student representation and that the bologna process develops in lines with the above principles The USI education officer will develop and regularly update a USI strategy on the Bologna process

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09/ED 14

Lifelong Learning Congress notes

That in recent years, the demographics of further and higher education has undergone rapid change with increased participation from mature students and adult learners.

Congress welcomes

This development as it has opened up the opportunities afforded by further and higher education to whole sections of the population who previously did not have this option.

Congress regrets

That despite this progress and the publication of the national access plan for equity of access to higher education 2008 – 2013, there are many obstacles that prevent adult learners from accessing further and higher education.

Congress recognises

That there has been much work in the area of lifelong learning (ll) and the recognition of prior learning which allows adult learners to re-enter education at any stage and to receive certification for the knowledge, skills and competencies that they have acquired outside of the sphere of formal education.

Congress reaffirms

That further and higher education should be open to all, irrespective of age and socioeconomic status. Furthermore, students should be able to benefit from flexible method of delivery for education.

Congress believes

That those who avail of flexible methods of education, such as distance or part-time education, should not be required to pay fees and that any such fees should be abolished.

Congress regrets

That at present, USI does not have a coherent policy on the issue of lifelong learning.

Congress believes

That as the sole national representative body for students, USI needs to develop a coherent and strong approach on this issue. Doing this will aligns with the fundamental principles of USI as laid down in the constitution.

Congress therefore mandates

The immediate repealing and deletion from the policy manual of 08 / ED 8, O7 / ED 4, 07 / ED 10, 06 / ED 5 And 04 / ED 10.

Congress further mandates

The adoption of the following principles as the USI policy on lifelong learning and recognition of prior learning to be implemented by education officer: Lifelong learning All individuals should have the opportunity to enter further and higher education at any stage of their life post-secondary level USI recognises that the process of learning and education does not stop in the classroom or at a certain age – it is a lifelong, enriching process As an organisation, USI is committed to opening up the opportunities that further and higher education offer to all individuals and shall campaign for an education system built on this principle There should be no tuition fees for those seeking to avail of lifelong learning through parttime or distance education and USI will lobby and campaign to have all such fees abolished USI supports the target of mature students representing 20% of full-time students by 2013 and 27% of full and part-time students by 2013 USI will campaign for a national lifelong learning strategy and to ensure the development

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of ‘programme for access to higher education’ (path) meets the needs of lifelong learners USI will campaign for adequate provision and funding of back to education programmes for lifelong learners and for adequate social welfare payments to ensure that those benefiting from ll are not placed in financial hardship by doing so Recognising that those from a minority background get particular benefit from ll, the USI education officer shall work with the USI equality officer to develop a campaign to ensure that they can benefit from the opportunities ll offers USI will work with all relevant stakeholders and organisations to progress lifelong learning and open further and higher education to all USI will work to increase its representation amongst the lifelong learning community and the USI education officer shall draw up a strategy to achieve this, in consultation with the area officers Recognition of Prior Learning USI believes in the concept of recognition of prior learning whereby individuals can receive credit and/or a supplementary, minor or major award within the national framework of qualifications for knowledge, skills and competencies acquired in a non-formal education environment USI shall lobby to ensure that the department of education & science introduces a national RPL policy A national RPL policy should focus on the creation of an environment in which individuals are empowered to have their learning recognised and where this recognition is embedded into employment culture USI will work with all relevant stakeholders and organisation to embed the culture of RPL in both the further and higher education sectors and the employment sphere

09/ED 24

Grinds Database Congress recognises

The value and benefit that extra tuition or ‘grinds’ in subjects can be to students, especially in relation to exams.

Congress notes

The existence of grinds databases in many constituent organisations which serve as invaluable resources for students.

Congress recognises

That the full-time nature of area officers means that they are an invaluable resource for co-ordinating regional campaigns and for liaising between constituent organisations and officer board.

Congress therefore mandates the education officer and area officers

To create a USI grinds database for each region based on the grinds lists which shall be provided by each constituent organisation that has one. These databases shall then be distributed to each constituent organisation in the relevant region for use by their students.

09/ED 7

Capitation Tax Deductibility Congress notes

That traditional tuition fees are tax deductible whilst the capitation fee is not tax deductible

Congress further notes

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That the recent increases in the capitation fee, and planned future increases, have brought it on a par with traditional tuition fees


Congress strongly opposes

The consistent increase in the capitation fee which has been done in such a manner as to bring no additional benefit or funding to higher education institutes in Ireland and is a severe financial burden on students

Congress criticises

The government for continuing to increase the capitation fee, which was introduced only as a temporary measure, and for not improving the grants scheme or changing the means tested level to assist those students who currently find the capitation fee a significant financial restriction

Congress mandates

The officer board to lobby the government that the capitation fee should be made tax deductible

09/UO 11

Part Time Officer Networks Congress Notes

That issues which come under the remit of the part-time officers are highly important in the operation and relevance of the Union.

Congress acknowledges

That any campaign is at its strongest when coherent and presenting a unified message, and that the sharing of ideas and methods between CO’s leads to a mutual improvement of campaigns throughout the country.

Congress thus mandates

The Part Time Officers to compile a list of their respectively similar Officers in CO’s throughout the country, as well as national and international institutions and agencies who operate in their respective areas of interest, and to establish forums for Officers in all CO’s to network and share their opinions and experiences for their mutual betterment.

09/UO 17

Increasing CO Participation Congress notes

The USI Participation Working Group investigated the participation of CO’s within the structures of USI.

Congress recognises

That for many officers USI represented creating links with officers in other unions and that the creation of such links was hugely beneficial as officers could brainstorm and problem solve together.

Congress also recognises

That the geographical location of some student unions creates a barrier to their participation within the democratic structures of USI.

Congress is also aware

That in order to ensure participation from student unions in Northern Ireland, USI Campaigns, particularly Welfare & Equality, must be more relevant to students in Northern Ireland.

Congress therefore mandates

The President to ensure a specific team bonding event, inclusive of all CO Officers and Officer Board, is organised to take place at UOS; Area officers to organise area specific team bonding events before September of each year; Officer Board to receive an induction training on NUSUSI before UOS takes place; Officer Board to consult the Northern Area Officer on modules being organised at UOS, in

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particular modules related to Welfare & Equality, to ensure that UOS remains relevant to our members from Northern Ireland; The Welfare & Equality Officer to consult NUSUSI when compiling materials for their respective campaigns; The Deputy President to gather feedback from CO’s once per year on the barriers and incentives to participating in USI and to bring any recommendations coming from this feedback to Congress.

09/UO 8

Reporting on National Meetings Congress notes

The importance of student representation on national committees.

Congress believes

That COs should be better informed as to the business of these meetings and its relevance to the membership.

Congress mandates

USI Officer Board to inform COs of upcoming meetings and where possible to convene working group and sectoral meetings to canvas opinion on upcoming agenda items.

Congress further mandates

USI Officer Board to circulate brief reports on these meetings to COs within a fortnight of the meeting, taking due notice of any and all potential confidentiality issues associated with disclosing the business of a meeting.

09/UO 34

Policy Manual Congress notes

The lack of a printed policy manual this year.

Congress also notes That the policy manual is currently unavailable through the USI website

Congress therefore mandates

The President to ensure that the USI Policy Manual is emailed out to each CO President before the 1st of October each year.

09/UO 2

Assistance to FEC Students’ Unions Congress notes

The under representation of students across the FE sector on a local level due to a lack of students’ union in FE colleges.

Congress believes

That many students unions set up in FE colleges lack sustainability simply due to the short length of course undertaken by the students who are active in the running of these unions.

Congress mandates the Area Campaigns Officers

To actively participate in the establishment of students unions within FE colleges in their area and to assist and support the running of these unions throughout the academic year in order to facilitate sustainability of said unions.

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Congress further mandates the Area Campaigns Officers and Education Officers

To ensure an effective and appropriate class representative system is developed within each union so as to increase student participation within the institution’s Students’ Union and to ensure continuity of the representative structure

09/UO 20

Communication Success Congress believes

SU officers are the best placed to communicate the successes and strengths of USI to its members

Congress notes

That it can sometimes be difficult for SU officers to list off successes and on going work within USI for various reasons.

Congress mandates

The President to compile a brief list of achievements for distribution to all COs before the end of January in the second semester

09/UO 26

Promoting USI Congress Notes

The good work done by the Officer Board of Union of Students in Ireland in promoting student rights and views and in advancing the student movement

Congress notes with concern

That many ordinary members of Union of Students in Ireland are unaware of much of the work done by their national union and in many cases are unaware of whom their national elected representatives are

Congress mandates

The Officer Board to run a comprehensive USI awareness campaign for ordinary students detailing the structures, purpose and functions of USI and including information on the members of Officer Board

Congress further mandates

The Officer Board to produce a short monthly report which shall detail the current achievements, objectives and the month ahead in the Union of Students in Ireland to be provided to all Constituent Organisations for optional inclusion on their website or in their union publications

09/UO 15

Education Crossover Congress notes

The importance of documents for Education Officers across the country relating to Class Reps, cross-over, quality promotion and other critical Education matters.

Congress believes

That these documents have significant benefits, but only if they are provided in good time for the local Education Officers to learn from them and use them to their full extent.

Congress recognises

That the casework faced by Education Officers is different to that of Welfare Officers and often requires an understanding of their institution’s relevant educational safeguards which can be difficult to grasp without experience.

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Congress also recognises that

UOS training provides a seminar on casework but that it is geared towards Welfare Officers with little or no relevance for Education Officers.

Congress mandates

The Education Officer to ensure that the relevant crossover, casework and class rep documents are provided to local Education Officers before the start of the academic year.

Congress further mandates

The Education Officer to produce a casework guide for local Education Officers and to organise a relevant casework seminar for Education Officers at UOS training.

09/WEL 7 HEADSUP

Congress notes

The inclusion of student services on the HEADSUP text service which is run by Rehab.

Congress further notes

That ease of access to information is important for students in difficulty. This services offers information on resources that are available when students services are closed.

Congress mandates the Welfare Officer

To continue to work with and promote the HEADSUP service as part of the mental health awareness campaign.

09/WEL 11

Crisis Pregnancy Agencies Congress notes

That there is no legislation controlling crisis pregnancy agencies in Ireland.

Congress notes with concern

That as a result a number of rogue crisis pregnancy agencies have started up

Congress recognizes

That a rogue crisis pregnancy agency is one where the sole purpose of the agency is to prevent a pregnant woman from having an abortion. They misinform and intimidate women to achieve their aim, using methods such as harassment, bullying and been given blatantly false information. [Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA)]

Congress acknowledges

The work done this year by Choice Ireland in campaigning against rogue crisis pregnancy agencies

Congress mandates the Welfare Officer

To work with Choice Ireland, and other relevant agencies, to protest against these rogue crisis pregnancy agencies  

Congress further mandates the Welfare Officer To lobby for the introduction of legislation in this area

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09/WEL 2

Abortion Rights Campaign Congress notes

That USI is mandated to lobby the government and other relevant bodies to develop greater access to abortion services for all women within the state (06/WEL 6 Abortion).

Congress further notes

That USI’s involvement in this debate in the past (SPUC vs. Grogan) led to the changing of legislation so that information about abortion could be distributed freely in the state. Congress recognises That in many student unions abroad and indeed in many organisations worldwide the issue of abortion is viewed as an issue of equality and women’s rights.

Congress further recognises

That the issue is one of concern for Welfare Officers around the country.

Congress is disappointed

By the silence of USI on this issue for the past number of years.

Congress acknowledges

The establishment of the Safe and Legal (in Ireland) Abortion Rights Campaign which aims to end the hypocrisy of exiling women in crisis pregnancy that choose to have an abortion. The campaign includes various strands, including a litigation strand, a public awareness strand and a national and international advocacy strand.

Congress mandates

The Welfare and Equality Officer to work with the Safe and Legal (in Ireland) Abortion Rights Campaign to once again make this issue a priority for Irish Women.

Congress further mandates

The Welfare and Equality Officer to raise awareness of the Safe and Legal (in Ireland) Abortion Rights Campaign to USI members and to support the campaign in any of its actions.

09/WEL 9 Shag Week

Congress notes 06 / WEL 6

Congress recognises

That throughout the year, and particularly during SHAG week, material is distributed by USI to students that contains contact information for crisis pregnancy agencies that only provide two choice information. Congress mandates the Welfare Officer To only provide information from three choice agencies.

09/NA 4

Elections Campaign Congress applauds

The current USI policy on increasing the student vote

Congress notes

That a general election in the near future is very likely

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Congress therefore mandates

The President to immediately begin lobbying all political parties with regard to student issues, specifically funding of third level education

Congress further mandates

Officer Board to prepare information regarding each party’s policies which relate to students so as to inform USI’s members

Congress also mandates

The President and Officer Board to immediately begin a campaign to improve student access to voting – through lobbying for weekend voting, on campus polling stations and re-instating the right to be registered at home and at college.

09/NA 3

Organ Donor Status Congress notes

08/ NA 1 (Organ Donors) which mandates the area officers to promote the distribution of organ donor cards and organ donor information leaflets to each student member of USI.

Congress also notes

The successful implementation of this mandate by the Eastern Area Officer this year

Congress believes

That organ donor status should be included on student identity cards

Congress therefore mandates

The President and Welfare Officer to lobby HEI’s and any other relevant agencies for the inclusion of organ donor status on student identity cards.

09/LGBT 3

LGBT Mental Health Conference Notes

That the results of the LGBT Lives Mental Health Survey have been published.

Conference Notes With Concern

That these results showed that “Almost 20 per cent of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have attempted suicide and almost all saw this as related to their sexual identity and the experiences of being abused and feeling isolated”

Conference Further Notes

The high instance of self-harming within the young LGBT community.

Conference Mandates

That the LGBT RO and WG engage with various LGBT organisations like GLEN and develop policies for LGBT mental health and best practice for promotion of positive

EQ6

Gender Recognition Legislation Proposed By: USI LGBTRO Seconded by: USI Welfare Working Group

Congress notes:

That the Government’s commitment to introducing Gender Recognition Legislation is overdue and an important step in improving the lives of many Transgender people in Ireland.

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Congress believes:

That the recommendations presented to the Minister for Social Protection by the Gender Recognition Advisory Group (GRAG) do not contain many of the concerns and issues raised by USI and other groups such as Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) and are not in line with the Yogyakarta Principles.

Congress further believes:

That the Irish Government has an opportunity to introduce Gender Recognition Legislation that that is fair and reflects the real life lived experiences of many Transgender people in Ireland.

Congress mandates:

The VP for Equality and Citizenship and the VP for Campaigns to campaign for Gender Recognition Legislation that will reflect the real life lived experiences of Transgender people in Ireland and is line with the Yogyakarta Principles.

09 / EQ 10

International Students Congress notes

That the numbers of EU and non EU students in the Irish Higher Education have increased steadily over the past number of years

Congress further notes

That while these students share the same concerns as their Irish counterparts, they also need specific support in certain areas

Congress recognises

That these students receive a lot of support from both international education offices and international student societies

Congress is aware

That very few structures exist within both local students union and USI to cater for the specific needs of both EU and non EU students and that this has lead to very poor participation by international students at all levels of student representation (see USI Participation Working Group Final Report)

Congress believes

That Students Unions must cater for the needs of all their membership and that USI has a responsibility to support local unions in this and to lead by example

Congress further believes

That the current structures employed by students unions, both local and national, may need to be reviewed in order to serve the needs of these students more effectively

Congress therefore mandates the Equality Officer

To continue to sit on the board of the Irish Council of International Students (ICOS); To work with ICOS to create support structures for EU and non EU students within local unions and within USI; To compile best practice guidelines for local unions on how to make their union accessible for EU and non EU students; To continue to monitor changes in governmental & HEI stipulations for EU and non EU students; to publicise these changes to the membership; to lobby against changes which will have a negative effect on students and to be proactive in seeking changes which will have a positive impact.

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OTHER POLICIES & MANDATES DUE TO EXPIRE 09/ED 3

Grant Information Evening Congress notes

The highly successful ‘grants information evening’ held in Galway this year.

Congress therefore mandates

The area officers, with the aid of the education officer, to arrange at least one grant information evening in their region, to be held after the first round of CAO offers but before the start of term for the CO’s involved.

09/ED 4

National Higher Education Strategy Group Congress cautiously welcomes

The establishment of the national higher education strategy group by the minister for education and science

Congress believes

This offers a good opportunity for USI to have a strong impact on education policy in Ireland

Congress mandates

The president and education officer to ensure that all CO’s are given the opportunity to contribute to this strategy, through email questionnaires, focus groups and informal discussions

Congress also mandates

The president to report to each national council on the progress of this group

09/ED 5

Education Forum Congress notes

04/ED 6 (education forum) which expires this year.

Congress believes

That an annual forum on the issues facing third level education would be of great benefit to USI and its members.

Congress believes

That current circumstance makes such a forum essential

Congress therefore mandates

The education officer to arrange a usi education forum that shall be open to students, co officers, politicians, representatives of key stakeholder groups in further and higher education and members of the media and the general public. The usi education forum: Will be held during the first semester

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Shall be convened with the purpose of stimulating debate and discussion on an educational


issue that is deemed to be of critical importance to the membership of the union over the coming academic year The issue which shall be the focus of that year’s USI education forum will be decided upon by national council, following a recommendation by the USI education officer The USI education forum will be the primary responsibility of the USI education officer with s/he having the right to nominate at least one and up to three deputy convenors from amongst officer board (excluding the USI president) and USI staff (excluding the general manager). The USI education officer shall allocate specific areas of responsibility to the deputy convenor(s). The USI education forum shall be comprised of a series of presentations by experts on the chosen topics and panel discussions chaired by these speakers with USI officer board to act as the rapporteurs for each panel discussion The final panel discussion of the USI education forum shall be an open discussion, to be chaired by the USI education officer, which shall take on board the issues raised in the panel discussion and shall seek to summarise the work of the USI education forum. The USI education officer shall collate the findings into a presentation to be made to national council outlining the proposed USI response to the issues raised by the USI education forum, subject to the policy manual Sponsorship from external agencies shall be the primary method of financing the USI education forum. However, at the discretion of the USI education officer, and based upon the recommendation of the general manager, a fee may also be charged for participation solely in order to cover the cost of staging the USI education forum. Such fee will be as low as possible for USI members and the general public All administrative and logistical arrangements shall be the sole purview of USI officer board under the direction of the USI education officer The holding of the USI education forum in any particular year is subject to its financial sustainability and the financial position of the union as determined by finance committee.

09/ED 9

Registration Fee Congress notes with concern

The increase in the registration fee to €1,500.

Congress is aware

That each institution can decide to increase the charge by up to €600 and that the increase is not being enforced sector-wide.

Congress is also aware

That the extra money gained by increasing the registration fee is not being spent on registration, examinations and student services as it should be as outlined by the HEA, but instead is being spent on tuition and other costs.

Congress aggress

That the fact that money for student services is being spent elsewhere is something that should be more widely known.

Congress therefore mandates

That the campaigns officer, area officers, president and education officer conduct a nationwide information campaign informing students, their families and all other that the money that should be spend on examinations, registration and student services is going elsewhere.

Congress also mandates

Officer board, in particular the campaigns officer, to offer guidance, help and support to all CO’s in running campaigns on an institution by institution basis, lobbying them to refrain from increasing and indeed to reduce the registration fee.

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09/ED 10

Reintroduction of Fees Congress notes

The rising registration fee and the fact that the government are considering the reintroduction of full tuition fees under some guise at the present time.

Congress recognises

The barrier to education that these place in the way of those wishing to attend higher education in Ireland.

Congress further recognises

The significant lack of a fair and equitable grants system and the financial inequity that this causes with students in trying to attend third-level education.

Congress believes

That USI should be in a position to fight for a fair and equitable access system to higher education in every circumstance.

Congress therefore mandates

Officer board to renew their fight for a fair grant system by researching and proposing a system that will work in a better way to the current System and in a way that will ensure equitable access for all to third level education.

Congress further mandates

The president to as much as possible ensure that USI gains a seat at any government or HEA organised group set up to look at the change of the current or introduction of a new grant system.

09/ED 12

Postgraduate Forum Congress notes

That there has been a significant increase in the number of postgraduate students in recent years.

Congress recognises

That postgraduate students have differing academic needs and issues to undergraduate students.

Congress regrets

That USI has not adequately addressed these needs or adequately represented postgraduate students in the past number of years.

Congress believes

That in order for this change, direct engagement with the postgraduate student community is needed. This will also strengthen the role of USI in the postgraduate area.

Congress therefore mandates the education officer

To establish a postgraduate forum, which will engage directly with postgraduate students to determine the issues affecting them and to determine how USI and constituent organisations can address these issues and provide effective representation for postgraduate students. The postgraduate forum: Will be held twice yearly. Shall be rotated on a regional basis with no region holding two or more postgraduate forums consecutively. Each constituent organisation selected to hold the postgraduate forum must have a postgraduate student population and, if held in an institute of technology, must have delegated authority to make postgraduate awards at a minimum of level 9 from HETAC.

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The education officer shall endeavour to balance the location of the postgraduate forum, insofar as possible, between universities and institutes of technology. The postgraduate forum shall take the form of an open meeting and several topic-specific workshops with each postgraduate forum focusing on a specific theme relevant to postgraduate students, such theme to be decided by the education officer in consultation with the education working group. A report on the proceedings of the meeting shall be produced by the education officer along with a list of proposed actions and policies for USI in order to address the issues raised. This report shall be circulated to the education working group who shall determine what further action is required up to and including the running of a campaign on the issue. At the last national council of the year, the education officer must produce a report detailing the issues raised by the postgraduate forum, the actions decided upon and taken and the next steps required.

09/ED 13

Equity of Access Congress notes

That the introduction of the ‘free fees’ initiative was designed to widen access to further and higher education for those from traditionally under-represented backgrounds.

Congress recognises

That while much progress has been made, with an overall participation rate of 55%, there are still a number of socio-economic and non-traditional backgrounds which do not participate in further and higher education at the level of other groups.

Congress welcomes

Recent moves to broaden the participation rate, in particular the creation of the national office for the equity of access to higher education and the publication of the national plan for equity of access to higher education 2008 – 2013.

Congress reaffirms

That one of the fundamental principles of the union is that it strives for an education and training system open to all, irrespective of any consideration, including consideration of national origin, ethnic background, age, ability, sex, sexuality, creed, political beliefs or economic circumstances, so that each individual can realise their full potential.

Congress believes

That in order to uphold and defend this principle, USI must have a co-ordinated policy on equity of access and encouraging the widening of participation in further and higher education.

Congress therefore mandates

The immediate repealing and deletion from the policy manual of 05 / ED 22, 04 / ED 12, 04 / ED 14 and 08 / EQ 15.

Congress further mandates

That USI adopts the following principles as its policy on equity of access to further and higher education to be implemented by officer board: Equity of Access (General Principles) USI shall campaign for an education and training system open and accessible to all All sectors of society should have equal opportunity to participate in further and higher education Further and higher education institutions should take all steps necessary to encourage and broaden participation USI shall build links and work with all relevant stakeholders and organisations to widen the

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participation rate and address all obstacles that may prevent individuals from accessing further and higher education The USI education officer shall develop and regularly update a USI strategy for equity of access to further and higher education Targeted access funding and programmes must be expanded to ensure that all students who come from traditionally under-represented backgrounds are able to access further and higher education USI fully endorses, supports and shall campaign to ensure the meeting of the targets as outlined in the national plan for equity of access to higher education 2008 – 2013 All cuts to the student assistance fund, access offices or strategic innovation funded access projects shall be vigorously opposed by USI All constituent organisations shall be supported by USI in promoting access within their own institution and in supporting the proper representation of access students through policy development, practice, promotion and partnership the USI education officer and the USI deputy president/campaigns officer shall develop a public campaign promoting access to further and higher education, highlighting the current obstacles and building momentum to have these issues addressed

09/ED 16

Higher Educations Grants Scheme Congress condemns

The oft repeated advice by HEA are reported to have given students on qualifying for various financial assistance schemes, in particular the grant, to ‘drop out of higher education and draw social welfare for the year and reapply’.

Congress believes

It is this attitude, and lack of jointed up thinking in the government, which is placing huge short-term strain on the budget of the social welfare services with no mid-to-long term solution to re-skill and education the population in preparation for the end of the recession period.

Congress re-affirms

Its belief that the education sector should be funded by a progressive taxation system, and that delaying students graduating (who then would seek employment and generate taxation revenue for the state) is counter-productive to the whole of the economy.

Congress mandates

The president and the education officer and such officers as may be needed, to campaign for an adequate reform of the grant qualification provisions with the view to rational provision of financial assistance.

09/ED 17

Registration Fee Congress notes

That students are paying a considerable amount to attend college every year.

Congress further notes

The planned increase of €600 in the registration fee for the Academic Year 09/10

Congress further notes

That the registration is an administrative fee but the 3rd level institutions across Ireland do not receive the full amount

Congress mandates

The President and Education Officer to lobby the Government to ensure that any increases in the registration fee go directly to the relevant institutions.

146


09/ED 18

Post Graduate Working Group Congress notes

That postgraduate students are often very limited in the amount of time they can dedicate towards ancillary roles in local unions and USI itself.

Congress further notes

That the issues that postgraduates face are often hindered by a lack of continuity from officer to officer, and that issues that occur nationwide could be solved by an effective communication network between postgraduate officers.

Congress therefore mandates

The postgraduate officer and the education officer to create a database of postgraduate issues that arose, and how they were addressed at local and national levels. This database should be made available to all postgraduate and education officers nationwide.

Congress also mandates

The postgraduate officer and the education officer to ensure that contact details of all postgraduate officers are available in the database.

Congress further mandates

The postgraduate officer and the education officer to organize meetings with the postgraduate officers, if necessary, to address their issues.

09/ED 19

Post Graduate Resources Congress recognises

That postgraduate students are often limited in the physical resources offered to them by their relevant institutions.

Congress further recognises

That the government has sought for many 3rd level institutions to double their numbers of postgraduate students, but that neither the space nor the funding has been provided to develop postgraduate facilities in line with this policy.

Congress mandates

The education officer, in conjunction with the postgraduate officer and the president, to lobby the government to provide adequate resources for postgraduate students on taught and research programmes.

Congress further mandates

The education officer, in conjunction with the postgraduate officer and the president, to ensure that these resources are distributed fairly between institutions taking account of the number of postgraduate students and the facilities and resources required to adequately support each student.

09/ED 20

Back to Education Allowance Congress notes

The huge and ever unfolding series of financial hardships students and their families are enduring during, and due to, the recession.

Congress agrees with

The Taoiseach, his party, the opposition parties and many of the foremost economists in the EU and Scandinavian countries (Finland et al) that state: ‘Ireland’s future is based on the success of Ireland’s knowledge economy’.

147


Congress deplores

The failure of the dept of social and family affairs to adequately provide financial assistance for mature students re-entering education, as a person who becomes unemployed during the typical academic term must wait a minimum of 12 months in receipt of social welfare to become eligible for the BTEA, often meaning a wait of 2 years before being able to enter 3rd level education.

Congress also notes

The minister at the time for social and family affairs, Mary Hanafin, rejected an amendment by the labour party to make the qualifying time for the BTEA 3 months.

Congress mandates

Officer board to lobby the Oireachtas with the view to reducing the normal qualifying time for the BTEA to 6 months. Officer board to lobby the Oireachtas to instate emergency legislative provisions regarding the BTEA qualifying provision above to be backdated to all those on the live register from January 1st 2009, with the view to those becoming unemployed in February, March and April being able to avail of the BTEA if seeking entry to 3rd level courses

09/ED 21

Higher Education Grants Scheme Congress deplores

The disgraceful situation with the grants scheme and its administration by the HEA and many local authorities/VEC, and that despite being promised that reform for many years was to be immediate or dealt with in the student support bill 2008, it is obvious that the situation for many students has deteriorated even further.

Congress notes

That many worthy students have large difficulty qualifying for the grant under the current scheme for many reasons, but particular reference to clause 7.2 which states; “A grant is tenable for the normal duration of the approved course” Which many authorities and VEC’s have interpreted this clause in such a way as to refuse those students who may become eligible in a later year of their course, or indeed in progression to postgraduate level directly after an undergraduate course, whom may have been ineligible at the beginning of their “flow of education”.

Congress believes

This is a disgraceful misinterpretation designed to minimise the amount of worthy students availing of the he grant, and in light of the deteriorating current economic climate is causing severe financial distress to those that would be returning to, or seeking to remain in, higher education.

Congress mandates

The president and the education officer to jointly seek legal advice on this clause, and bring action where needed against the HEA.

09/ED 22

Funding for HEI’S Congress notes

That education and an educated workforce is one of the prime drivers of a successful knowledge based economy

Congress further notes

That higher education institutes (HEI) require adequate resourcing in order to deliver the quality of education required to allow Ireland to compete in the modern global economy

Congress notes with concern

148

That for a number of year’s higher education institutes in Ireland have been underresourced in comparison with their European counter-parts


Congress further notes with concern

That the recent economic downturn will likely maintain, and potentially intensify, the under-resourcing of HEI’s and has led to discussions regarding student contributions to 3rd level education

Congress mandates

The president, in conjunction with officer board and any relevant 3rd party organisations where appropriate, to investigate HEI funding across Europe and the world and to draw up a detailed proposal for presentation to the national press and government outlining alternate strategies for the funding of 3rd level education in Ireland

09/ED 23

IREL Initiative Congress notes

Irel is a national initiative by government agencies SIF and HEA to fund access to electronic journals, databases and e-books in science, technology and medicine, humanities and social sciences. It has proved to be an essential resource for students - both postgraduate and undergraduate. First set up in 2004 it is worth approximately €1 million per year to each of the 7 universities.

Congress further notes

It was extended this year to include the 14 institutes of technology however these institutes were only given access to 2 collections of journals – giving a total of €211,000 to be shared between them all.

Congress believes

That it is unfair to institute of technology students as they do not have equity of access to such resources.

Congress mandates

The education officer to lobby to ensure that the initiative as a whole continues as it is very cost effective through economies of scale and ensures that all university students have access to the same key resources.

Congress further mandates

The education officer to lobby the government to ensure the initiative is extended fully to the 14 institutes of technology.

09/ED 25

Postgraduate Work Placements Congress notes

The cost incurred by postgraduate students entering into work placement positions. Often these placements take on the form of free labour for employers.

Congress believes

That all postgraduate students entering into work placements should receive payment for the duration of the placement.

Congress mandates the officer board

To campaign for payment for these types of placement.

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09/ED 26

Student Assistance Fund Congress notes

This year saw a significant decrease in funding to the student assistance fund with a cut of â‚Ź1.2 million.

Congress further notes

Now more than ever, we need to be supporting our students who fall into financial difficulties and require financial assistance.

Congress learns

That this academic year has seen a significant increase in the number of students seeking financial assistance and we should be investing in students in difficulty.

Congress mandates

The president to lobby the government through all relevant departments and semi-state agencies to reverse the cut in the student assistance fund and no to reduce the allocation to SAF any further.

Congress recognises

The considerable knowledge held by the both the welfare officer and education officer in relation to finances, grants, student supports and cost of living etc

Congress believes

That with the assistance of the welfare officer and education officer, constituent organisations can organise an effective campaign to ensure that institutions contribute to both the student assistance fund and to maintain financial supports for students in difficulties

Congress therefore mandates

The welfare officer and education officer to support co’s in pressing their institutions to support and contribute to student assistance fund and to maintain and increase their contribution to their own financial supports for students.

09/ED 27

Reduction in Nursing Places Congress notes

The reduction of nursing studies places by almost 300 this September.

Congress further notes with disgust

That most of these places have been lost along the western sea board.

Congress recognises

The important role nurses play in the Irish health system.

Congress believes

That because of these cuts the country will face another nurse shortage in the near future. Congress mandates the president and education officer To actively lobby for the increase of nursing places in Irish HEI’s.

150


09/ED 28

Postgraduate Campaign Congress notes

The growing population of postgraduate students within USI

Congress also notes

That as a part-time office, the postgraduate officer is often unable to ensure adequate representation for postgraduate students

Congress regrets

That many postgraduate students feel disconnected from USI

Congress therefore mandates

The education officer to organise a promotion campaign within the first semester of each year, to highlight the success and the services of USI to postgraduate students specifically

09/WEL 1

Emergency Contraception Congress notes

The continuing lack of Emergency Contraceptives available ‘over-the-counter’ in pharmacies in Ireland, and the continuing need for a doctors appointment for a prescription for the ECP which comes at an extra cost to the student.

Congress further notes

Dependant on location, time of week, travel plans, unforeseen circumstances (i.e. sex without consent or awareness) etc that availing of a doctors appointment for aforesaid prescription may not be possible, and that the efficacy of EC decreases significantly over a 72-hour period.

Congress believes

That people are entitled to complete control over their sexual reproduction and fertility, and that freer availability of ECs in Ireland is essential to this intrinsic right.

Congress welcomes

Research carried out on the effects of the ECP introduction in Britain by the British Journal of Medicine that reported: a 10% decrease in the amount of teenage pregnancies with only a 2% increase in those using the ECP following its over-the-counter introduction no reduction in the usage of other contraceptive methods And the research document prepared for this debate on the myths, realities and physiological & health impacts of the different ECPs by UCC’s Welfare Officer, Keith O’ Brien.

Congress Mandate

The USI Welfare Officer to co-ordinate with relevant groups to provide more comprehensive information on the different forms of EC USI Officer Board to campaign for the introduction of ‘over-the-counter’ emergency contraception for people over the age of 17, as this is the age of consent.

09/WEL 3

Morning After Pill Congress Notes

The Morning After Pill (MAP) does play a role in the decrease in number of pregnancies among students

Congress Further Notes

That the MAP is available over the counter in a number of other countries, the UK included.

Congress acknowledges

That the British Medical Journal published a study in May 2006 saying that the availability

151


of the MAP did not lead to an increase in its use nor a decrease in the use of other forms of contraception.

Congress also acknowledges

That the Irish Pharmaceutical Union supports the introductions of the MAP under strict regulations and that pharmacists already provide sexual health advice.

Congress recognises

That the MAP is most efficient when it is taken as soon as possible after sex

Congress also recognises

The extreme difficulty at weekends for people to obtain the MAP and the stress this causes to many women who find themselves in a crisis situation

Congress mandates the Welfare Officer

to work with other agencies, who already support the introduction of the MAP over the counter, to lobby for this service. to run a viral information campaign about the issues involved in taking the Morning After Pill

09/WEL 4

Mental Health Information Congress notes

That there is a stigma surrounding the issue of mental health amongst the student body, and in Irish society generally. 

Congress believes

Welfare Officers of COs are very effective means of dispersing information to students regarding various issues, notwithstanding mental health issues; however issues around mental health still require coverage by Cos, mainly to provide factual information on various mental illnesses and to remove the stigmas associated with said.

Congress therefore mandates the Welfare Officer

to provide supports to individual Students’ Unions by way of centralised sourcing materials and information, targeting the stigma surrounding mental health issues To further engage with relevant groups and NGOs to publicise the various means of dealing with mental illness to the wider student population To run a campaign on the issues raised above

09/WEL 5

Counselling Services Congress notes

The severe problem Ireland faces with a large population of alcoholic and drug addicts, some of whom are/will be parents.

Congress further notes with concern

The lack of supports put in place for the children of such parents, who in turn may be faced with mental health problems (such as depression etc.) that may affect them for the rest of their lives.

Congress acknowledges

The availability of AL-anon, AT-Teen, Barnardos etc services in Ireland for these children.  However the lack of supports from the HSE itself on a psychiatric & counselling basis along with an average 2 year waiting list for psychiatric evaluation, and how these psychological problems will affect the life of a student at 3rd level, must be realised and changed. Congress therefore mandates Officer Board to lobby the relevant bodies to put in place funding for the introduction of counselling services for the children of alcoholic and drug addicted parents.

152


09/WEL 6

Mental Health Campaign Congress Notes

The huge increase in numbers of international students now studying a 3rd level here in Ireland and how diverse the student population has become

Congress also notes

The huge impact studying abroad can have on a person and that adapting to a new culture, language, society and surroundings can have a significant effect on a students well being

Congress recognises

The strength and accomplishments of this year’s Mental Health Campaign

Congress Mandates

The Welfare Officer to work in conjunction with the Equality Officer to design campaign materials for the Mental Health Campaign which are specifically aimed at International students and the Welfare Officer in conjunction with the Equality Officer to highlight the specific issues surrounding the specific stresses placed on international students.

09/WEL 8

Drug Awareness Congress laments

The complete lack of any drug awareness campaign within USI

Congress is disappointed

That no mandate currently exists which addresses the issue of drug usage among the student population

Congress mandates

The Welfare Officer to design and run a drug awareness campaign that is non biased or judgemental.

09/WEL 10 ‘Free Pack’

Congress notes

The collaboration between ‘free’ and USI over the past three years in pushing to have the ‘free’ pack distributed in colleges nationwide.

Congress applauds

The dedicated hard work put in by Rachael Prendiville who designed the ‘free’ pack and notes that all the work and effort she has put into it was done entirely voluntarily with all money raised for ‘free’ going into the packs only.

Congress recognises

The positive feedback received from Mental Health Organisations around the country as well as student services as well as students themselves

Congress mandates

The Welfare Officer to continue to work closely with ‘free’ and use the ‘free’ pack as the mental health awareness pack.

153


09/WEL 12

Violence In Youth Relationships Congress notes with concern

That violence within youth relationships is not part of any current campaign within USI

Congress also notes

That statistics surrounding the prevalence of violence in youth relationships is scarce

Congress believes

That this issue needs to be highlighted among students

Congress therefore mandates the Welfare Officer

to work with various agencies to run a campaign on the issue of violence in youth relationships to investigate, with other relevant organisations and statutory agencies, sources of funding for research in this area to be involved at all levels of research carried out, if funding is acquired.

09/WEL 13

Alcohol Awareness Campaign Congress notes

08/ WEL 7 (Students and Alcohol) which mandates the prioritisation of the alcohol awareness/reduction campaign.

Congress also notes

The persistent difficulty in designing a campaign around alcohol awareness which is not patronising to or judgemental of students.

Congress recognises

That alcohol consumption and over consumption remains a key issue for students.

Congress also recognises

That students are best placed to assist the Welfare Officer in designing a campaign on this issue.

Congress therefore mandates

The Welfare Officer to hold 4 regional forums at the beginning of the academic year 09/10 to gather student feedback, opinions and ideas on how best to approach this issue and to present a campaign idea to Welfare Working Group before the end of the calendar year 2009 when the feedback from the forums is collated.

09 / EQ 1

Disability Support Services Congress notes

The budget cutbacks that are occurring across most 3rd level institutions.

Congress regrets

That a lot of these cutbacks are disproportionately affecting vital frontline student services.

Congress recognises

The effectiveness and importance of disability support services for students suffering from both physical and intellectual disabilities.

Congress opposes

Any and all cutbacks in these disability support services across the country.

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Congress mandates

The Equality, Disabilities and Education Officers to actively campaign to ensure the rights of support to these students by lobbying the appropriate national bodies to provide ringfenced funding for these services.

09 / EQ 2 AHEAD

Congress notes

Previous policy (08/EQ6) which mandates the President and Welfare Officer to open discussions with AHEAD with a view to working together on common areas of interests.

Congress further notes

That the Equality Officer, who has the responsibility to support the autonomous disability campaign, and the Disability Rights Officer are best placed to build links with AHEAD.

Congress acknowledges

The work of the Equality Officer and Disability Rights Officer this year in achieving the above aim.

Congress further acknowledges

The current work being done by USI and AHEAD in relation to compiling a guide for student union officers on how best to develop policy and services for students with disabilities.

Congress recognises

That in the past number of months, support services for students with disabilities as well as the ‘Fund for Students with Disabilities’ have experienced cuts due to the current economic climate.

Congress mandates

The Equality and Disability Rights Officers to: Continue to build links with AHEAD; Work with AHEAD to develop initiatives which can counteract the current cuts to support funds for students with disabilities; Oppose any further cuts to support services for students with disabilities; Promote and assist the development of student societies for students with disabilities; Work with AHEAD to organise an annual one day event for students with disabilities;

09 / EQ 3

Friends of the Elderly Congress notes

That Friends’ of the Elderly is a voluntary, non-denominational organisation that brings friendship and social opportunities to the elderly, especially those who live alone.

Congress also notes

That many student members in the Eastern Area volunteer with Friends of the Elderly.

Congress further notes

That this year a pilot campaign entitled ‘Open to the Elderly Week’ took place in USI member colleges. The campaign consisted of organising one afternoon of entertainment for the elderly who lived near each college and was developed following the success of similar afternoons in UCD.

Congress recognises

That such a campaign helps to combat ageism in our society.

155


Congress mandates

The Equality Officer to continue to work with Friends of the Elderly and to run ‘Open to the Elderly Week’ each year.

09 / EQ 4

USI Rainbow Week Conference Notes

That “Rainbow Week” is not thoroughly recognised within all affiliated colleges.

Conference Further Notes

That the USI does not hold a “Rainbow Week” of its own, unlike themed weeks such as Road Safety Week and Shag Week etc.

Conference Believes

That “Rainbow Week” is a much needed awareness campaign to promote LGBT awareness and acceptance within all affiliated colleges.

Conference Mandates

The USI Officer Board to introduce an official designated “Rainbow Week” on the campaigns calendar to raise awareness for the event and promote inclusion and integration of the LGBT community.

Conference Also Mandates

The LGBT RO to communicate with the Students Unions and the LGBT societies and assist in the organisation of the Rainbow Weeks to those colleges that need assistance.

09 / EQ 5

Working With Disability Congress Notes

The excellent practices employed by the disability services in some higher education institutes

Congress Further Notes

The disparity that exists in disability services available to students in different higher education institutes

Congress Mandates

The Equality Officer and the Disability Rights Officer to investigate the various practices employed in by the disability services of institutes and, based on this, to construct a code of best practice for such services which shall be distributed to all COs and their relevant college authorities

09 / EQ 7

Equality & Rights Alliance Congress notes

The Equality & Rights Alliance (ERA) was formed in August 2008, following media reports of a proposed merger of five equality and human rights bodies in Ireland. Budget 2009 did not result in such a merger instead savage budget cuts of 43% to the Equality Authority and 24% to the Irish Human Rights Commission rendered both organisations unable to carry out their responsibilities in any meaningful way. Furthermore the Equality Authority was fast tracked for decentralisation to Roscrea, Co. Tipperary despite the decentralisation programme being abandoned in all other areas of government.

Congress further notes

That ERA is an alliance of civil society groups seeking to ensure the promotion and enhancement of human rights, equality and social justice in Ireland.

Congress condemns

156

The government’s vicious attack on independent statutory bodies who promote equality & human rights in Irish society.


Congress recognises

The importance of the ERA campaign and acknowledges the involvement of the Equality Officer in ERA from its formation in August.

Congress mandates

The Equality Officer to continue to work with ERA in achieving its aims.

09 / EQ 8

Irish Traveller Movement Congress notes

That there exists policy (08/EQ2) mandating the Equality Officer ‘to lobby the government for the full and speedy implementation of the recommendations and conclusions laid out in the Department of Education & Science Survey of Traveller Education Provision.’

Congress also notes

That while this motion is well intentioned, it does not provide the Equality Officer with a realistic mandate to address the issues facing members of the Traveller Community in third level education.

Congress recognises

The work of this year’s Equality Officer in building links with the Education Worker of the Irish Traveller Movement.

Congress notes

That the Irish Traveller Movement is a national network of organisations and individuals working within the Traveller community.

Congress mandates

That the Equality Officer continues to build links with ITM and to formulate a realistic strategy for addressing the issues faced by Travellers in third level education.

09 / EQ 9

Female Participation Congress notes

That there is a long-standing disparity between the number of female members of Students’ Unions and the number of females holding positions at decision making levels of Students’ Unions, particularly sabbatical officer level.

Congress notes

That in the final report of the USI Participation Working Group it was noted that statistical evidence indicated that Union members were more likely to vote for a male candidate than a female candidate in cases where at least one of each are present.

Congress further notes

That since the abolition of the Women’s Rights Officer there has been little in the way of gender equality campaigns run by USI.

Congress recognises

That the issue of female participation is not one unique to USI. It is an issue which is prevalent in many areas of Irish society.

Congress further recognises

That there are many organisations and government initiatives which are involved in the promotion of gender equality in all aspects of life and some which are specifically involved in increasing female representation at decision making level.

Congress mandates the Equality Officer

To run a campaign highlighting the persistent inequalities between men and women in Irish Society; To run a campaign to promote female involvement at decision making level; To work with organisations who share our aim of working for an equal society.

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09 / EQ 11

Forum for Students with Disabilities Congress Notes

That participation in third level education among students with disabilities has grown in the last number of years.

Congress Believes

That it is difficult to provide adequate support and representation for these students without their input into highlighting their specific needs.

Congress Mandates

The Equality Officer and Disability Rights Officer to setup a forum in which students with disabilities can advise USI on the Disability Rights Campaign.

09/LGBT 1

Branding of LGBT Campaign Conference Notes

That in previous years the USI LGBT Campaign had a uniform campaign slogan ‘pride without borders’

Conference believes

That this ‘brand’ gave the LGBT Campaign visibility and strengthened the LGBT Community

Conference notes with concern

That this branding was not continued year in year out

Conference recognises

That a series of pamphlets, carrying the slogan ‘pride without borders’, were produced and printed on a standardised template.

Conference further Believes

That this template may not be suitable for all pamphlets done within the USI LGBT Campaign

Therefore Conference Mandates

The LGBTRO 09/10 to create a new draft template that can be used for all pamphlets.

Conference Further Mandates

The LGBT RO 09/10 to create a standard colour scheme to apply to the aforementioned pamphlets to ensure the visibility of the LGBT Campaign

Conference Also Mandates

The LGBT RO to ensure that this branding is continued year in year out, with a review of the template and colour scheme.

09/LGBT 2

Civil Partnership versus Civil Marriage Conference Notes

The number of mandates on civil partnerships, civil unions and Marriage

Conference Further Notes

That these policies don’t actually clarify USI’s position civil marriage/partnership/union/ registration is.

158


Conference Believes

That civil partnership can grant much needed rights to same sex couples, such as accommodation protection, pensions and inheritance rights but USI does not have a policy that would allow it to support civil partnerships as a stepping stone towards marriage.

Conference Further Believes

That while the civil partnership bill is progressive, it does not tackle the disparity that exists between heterosexual and homosexual couples.

Therefore Conference Deletes

08 LGBT 04, 05 LGBT 29, 05 EM LGBT 01

Conference Mandates

The LGBT RO and the LGBT Working group to seek to introduce a civil partnership bill, which is amended, so that it includes protections for children, covers retroactive pensions and covers foreign same sex marriage.

Conference Further Mandates

The LGBTRO and the LGBT WG campaigns for the introduction of full civil marriage rights

Conference Also Mandates

The LGBTRO and the LGBT WG accepts civil partnerships, on the basis that it is used as a stepping stone towards full marriage.

09/LGBT 4

Drug Awareness Campaign Conference Notes

The low number of studies into the use of drugs within the LGBT Community

Conference Further Notes

That there are even fewer campaigns specifically aimed at the LGBT community, highlighting the harmful effects of drug misuse or abuse.

Conference Believes

That USI should take a proactive approach to awareness raising, within the LGBT Community, on the effects of drug abuse.

Conference recognises

That belong to youth services have a drug awareness campaign but that it is tailored to a very young audience and that it is unsuitable for third level students

Conference mandates

The LGBT RO and the LGBT Working group to: Seek support from the health promotion unit within the Dept. Of Health, or any other relevant organisation, and seek advice on how to tailor a message to a specific community. Create a pamphlet(s) on drugs, highlighting the ‘gateway drugs’ and the main drugs used by the LGBT community. It should also highlight the social reasons for taking drugs Look at the viability of producing a poster campaign Ensure that a module on LGBT and drugs is organised at pink training

Conference Further mandates

The LGBTRO to seek sponsorship for this campaign.

09/LGBT 5

Dignity And Respect Conference recognises                      

The work done by COs to ensure that everybody feels equal.

159


Conference notes                    

That some COs have policies that are open to misinterpretation and this may lead to unintended discrimination.            

Conference believes                      

That situations like this should never happen in any CO.

Conference further believes                  

That since it is against the law to discriminate, college officials should not be allowed to get away with doing so.

Therefore Conference mandates                

The LGBT RO to Draft up a generic policy on Dignity and Respect for use in CO’s that don’t have any.

Conference further mandates                    

The LGBT RO and WG to ensure that every CO’s Union is aware of the existence of such policies and to ensure that such policies are being applied to everyone.

09/LGBT 6

Financing of Pink Training Conference notes

That in previous years, many students who book places at pink training, never show up and as a result, never pay for the place they booked.

Conference further notes

That in most years, the LGBT Campaign and USI have lost money as a result of this non payment.

Conference believes

That the LGBT campaign should not financially suffer due to a non payment.

Conference recognises

That it is a standard business practice that most costs allow a margin of error, onto the cost price, to allow for hidden costs and last minute dropouts.

Therefore Conference Mandates

The LGBTRO and the LGBT Working Group to include as part of the initial payment, a margin of error fee of no more than 5 euro, to allow for some non payment.

Conference Further Mandates

The LGBTRO to ensure that any money raised is returned directly into the LGBT Campaign Budget and is used for the printing of materials, attendance at a conference or any other event or training requiring financial assistance from the USI LGBT Campaign.

Conference Also Mandates

The LGBTRO to ensure that, if the cost for pink training should ever exceed 90 euro, that the five euro margin of error is not included as the cost would be too excessive for students.

Conference Additionally Mandates

That anyone who has not paid for more than two years or whose collective debts exceed 3000 EUR shall be refused entry to pink training until at least half of the money is paid off with a guarantee that the rest will be paid no more than one month after the event

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09/LGBT 7

Structure of Pink Training Conference Notes

That pink training is the perfect venue to provide support to LGBT people, sabbatical Officers and part time officers on LGBT Issues.

Conference Further Notes

That this year a high number of sabbatical and part time officers attended

Conference Believes

That there should be an introduction module on LGBT issues as well as other modules aimed at supporting someone coming out to parents.

Conference Further Believes

That Pink Training should be longer on the Saturday, but starting later and that no module should be run on the Sunday other than feedback sessions. Therefore Conference mandates The LGBT RO and the LGBT Working group to: Ensure, where possible, that an Introduction to LGBT module is run at pink training Ensure, where possible, a breakdown of the legal, medical and social rights of LGBT people in Ireland Ensure, where possible, that a module on LGBT and Parenting is run at Pink Training

Conference further mandates The LGBTRO to ensure that:

Pink Training starts 11:00am on the Saturday and that no module is run after 8pm. This includes workshops seminars etc. Lunch and dinner on the Saturday are included in the price and that an hour and a half is given for each on the timetable, to allow everyone time to eat. Sundays are used as a wind down/relaxing day and that no modules, other than feedback sessions or workshops, are run on Sunday. Food on the Friday is provided and included in the cost Coming out workshops are given an hour and a half to ensure that people have time to speak

Congress Also Mandates

The LGBTRO to ensure that a booklet on pink training is produced on a yearly basis and that the booklet for Pink Training contains information on each module, includes an explanatory note on each module, speaker and WG member and that maps/timetables/etc. are included in the booklet.

09/LGBT 8

LGBT Mental Health Conference Notes

That studies done in the US, have shown that LGBT people are 170% more likely to consider and attempt suicide.

Conference further notes

That in Ireland there has been very few peer reviewed studies on LGBT mental health.

Conference Believes

That the LGBT campaign should aim to support positive mental health

161


Conference Recognises

That since policy is in place for a five year period, mandates can be spread out over a long term period to allow for proper research.

Therefore Conference Mandates

The LGBTRO and the LGBT Working Group to: Update the websites’ mental health section Create a pamphlet on positive mental health for LGBT Students Aim to create a survey on mental health issues affecting LGBT students at third level and then publish the results.

09/LGBT 9

Adoption Policy Conference notes

The controversial nature of the issue of gay adoption within Ireland.

Conference Applauds

The work done in relation to this issue by organisations by way of debates and seminars.

Conference Notes with concern

The lack of protection to children offered by the civil partnership bill.

Conference believes

That policy needs to be clarified regarding USIs stance on adoption rights.

Therefore Conference mandates

The LGBT RO to ensure that USI lobby for better protections for children within the Civil Partnership Bill in the form of a Guardianship Rights Bill

Congress Further Mandates

The LGBTRO and the LGBT WG to form a campaign seeking to introduce full Adoption Rights and to only accept guardianship rights as a stepping stone towards full adoption rights

Congress Also Mandates

The LGBTRO to ensure that a brief synopsis of guardianship rights versus adoption rights are drawn up and distributed to the LGBT Societies and SUs to inform them of both the pros and cons of each system

09/LGBT 10

Disability and Sexual Orientation Conference Notes

That many students with disabilities have been neglected by USI, through the long term absence of a DRO and an Equality Officer.

Conference further notes

That the LGBT Campaign has also neglected students with disabilities who are also LGBT

Conference Believes

That the LGBT campaign should aim to be more inclusive of those from other minority groups

Therefore Conference Mandates

The LGBTRO and the LGBT Working Group to: Develop links with AHEAD and the NDA

162


Link up with other LGBT organisations like Greenbow who specifically cater for those with a disability. Create a pamphlet on disability and sexual orientation To include, when a speaker/facilitator is available, a module at Pink Training on Disability and Sexual Orientation, aimed at sabbatical officers and LGBT committee members. Run a survey on the accessibility of the LGBT societies across the country.

09/LGBT 11

USI Rainbow Week Conference Notes

That “Rainbow Week” is not thoroughly recognised within all affiliated colleges.

Conference Further Notes

That the USI does not hold a “Rainbow Week” of its own, unlike themed weeks such as Road Safety Week and Shag Week etc.

Conference Believes

That “Rainbow Week” is a much needed awareness campaign to promote LGBT awareness and acceptance within all affiliated colleges.

Conference Mandates

The LGBT RO and LGBT working group to seek to introduce an official designated “Rainbow Week” to raise awareness for the event.

Conference Also Mandates

The LGBT RO to assist in the organisation of the Rainbow Weeks to those colleges that need assistance and to attend the Rainbow weeks of at least two colleges, one of which must be outside Dublin.

09/LGBT 12

Gender Recognition Working Group Conference Notes

That this year the LGBT RO managed to secure commitments from various interested parties on the creation of a Gender Recognition Working Group

Conference Regrets

That this WG was deferred due to economic downturn and the threat of the reintroduction of third level fees

Conference Believes

That this WG is an essential part of the drafting of a Gender Recognition Bill, as it will outline the various issues where gender recognition is necessary and will outline the problems with the current system.

Therefore Conference mandates

The LGBT RO to ensure that the WG is re-established as soon as it possible to do so.

Conference Further Mandates

The LGBTRO to ensure that the WG is reengaged in the year 2011, at the start of the 2011/2012 year period, should gender recognition legislation not be brought forward.

163


09/LGBT 13

MSM Blood Ban Conference Notes

That the IBTS still has not reviewed its policies on Blood donation

Conference Further Notes

That the NAT test has reduced the window of detection of the HIV virus down to 12 days.

Conference Notes with Concern

The IBTS has passed obligation over to the Department of Health and the World Health Organisation. The IBTS will refuse to review the deferral criteria until the WHO and the Dept. require them to.

Conference Believes

That the IBTS should set up a working group to investigate the viability of reducing the deferral period from an indefinite deferral down to a more reasonable timeframe

Therefore Conference mandates

The LGBT RO and the LGBT Working group to: Continue to letter lobby the Minister of Health, asking for a working group to be set up Write a submission to the Dept. Of Health, outlining current trends on HIV infection and HIV statistics and use this to seek a reduction. Outline a deferral period of one year instead of a lifetime deferral Produce two pamphlets One on AIDS and the blood Ban The second outlining why the ban should be removed

Conference further mandates

The LGBTRO to keep the information accurate and up to date with current statistics

Conference Also Mandates

The LGBT RO to lobby both the department and WHO for the setting up of a working group to review their own policies regarding blood donations from the MSM community

09/LGBT 14

Communication from LGBTRO Conference Notes

That there is little communication between the LGBTRO and LGBT societies in various CO’s.

Conference Believes

That it is important that LGBT societies are aware of important issues to the LGBT community and also of work carried by the LGBTRO and the LGBT Working Group.

Conference Further Believes

That communication is essential to ensuring participation in USI’s LGBT campaign at local level.

Therefore Conference Mandates

164

The LGBTRO to send out at least a quarterly email to LGBT societies, CO Executive Officers and other relevant parties to update them on the progress of the campaign and the work carried out by the LGBT Working Group.


09/LGBT15

Fresher’s Campaign Conference Notes

That there has been a lot of information pamphlets produced this year

Conference Further Notes

That this allows for the mass distribution of information for LGBT societies for their fresher’s weeks

Therefore Conference mandates

The LGBT RO and the LGBT Working group to ensure that these pamphlets are printed up in bulk and distributed to LGBT societies

Conference Further Mandates

The LGBTRO to ensure that all materials are available online

09/LGBT16

Trans Activism Training Conference Notes

A strong campaign was created this year on the issue of transgender recognition in Ireland.

Conference Further Notes

That this was mostly due to the support and advice that TENI provided.

Conference Believes

That as the LGBT Campaign aims to create a safe space for its trans members, the LGBT RO should be up to date on the current issues and should know how to be a trans ally.

Therefore Conference mandates

The LGBT RO to ensure that they work closely with TENI and that they attend a Trans Activism training.

09/LGBT 18

Campaign Strategy Conference notes

The great work done to date by the USI LGBT Campaign. Conference notes in particular Campaigns focusing on Civil Marriage, the blood ban, coming out and transgender recognition which have been hugely successful and have made a lasting impression on the people of this country.

Conference believes

That to continue to impact the course of LGBT rights in this country it is necessary to introduce forward planning to the campaigns which may be run in any particular year

Conference mandates

The USI LGBT Rights Officer in conjunction with the USI LGBT Working Group to publish a campaign strategy document prior to the beginning of each academic year outlining a campaign timeline and comprehensive information on the campaigns themselves.

Conference believes

This will assist all CO’s in participating fully in USI LGBT Campaigns and ensuring that members are aware in advance when demonstrations are likely to take place which will be crucial for the integration of members from outside the capital.

165


09/LGBT 19

Working Group Conference Notes

The strong presence of Eastern area Cos in the USI LGBT campaign, and on the Working Group particularly.

Conference applauds

The dedication of these COs to the campaign and its aims of eliminating inequality and furthering the cause of LGBT rights in Ireland.

Conference notes with concern

The difficulty for members outside Leinster to participate fully in the WG, due to inappropriate meeting times and locations.

Conference believes

That only through the full participation of all members of working group , from all areas of Ireland, can the campaign truly reach its potential

Conference mandates

The LGBTRO and the LGBT WG to form regional working groups, where a group of four representatives from each region, are elected and or co-opted onto WG and that quorum for each region is set at three.

Congress Also Mandates

The LGBTRO to ensure that a constitutional amendment be brought forward that reflects this new structure, at the next available opportunity, Congress 2010

09/NA 1

Support for Resource Teachers Congress notes

Tthe Department of Education’s plan to cut teacher support for children with mild general learning disabilities in 119 national schools across the country.

Congress recognises

that this cutback is a callous attack on the vulnerable in our society.

Congress mandates

the President and Deputy President to offer USI’s support to the INTO and resource teachers in their bid to reverse the decision.

09/NA 2

Day of Action Congress notes

The significant number of environmental societies, events and initiatives that take place on campuses across the country each year.

Congress acknowledges

The importance of the environmental campaign, and realises that making students aware of and involved with environmental causes and initiatives on their campuses and in their communities is essential to working to reduce the destruction of our natural environment.

166


Congress therefore mandates the Environmental Awareness Officer along with the Deputy President

To Endeavour to co-ordinate a one day student environmental day to highlight and promote student initiatives and activities associated with the environmental campaign, as well as national and community initiatives, perhaps to be linked with a global day of action or other event that  is significant to the environmental campaign.   

09/UO 1

Regional Campaign Group Congress notes

The large number of students who have become actively involved in the student movement this year, mainly due to the prevalence of the ‘Fight Fees’ campaign.

Congress further believes

That by utilising USI’s greatest resource, our students, not only can we ensure the opinions of our members are being heard but are considered when deciding the direction of the National Campaign.

Congress mandates the Area Campaigns Officers

To recruit a minimum of five students from each CO in their region, to comprise a Regional Campaigns Group. This campaigns group will co-ordinate regional campaigns in addition to developing new ideas for the National Campaign. The Area Officers must communicate with the group through a bi-weekly email and a series of campaign meetings throughout the year. The members of this campaigns group can bring USI’s message back to their own campuses, ensuring students at all levels of higher education are aware of the work of the National Union.

09/UO 3

USI Participation Awards Congress notes

That many students work tirelessly for the betterment of student unions, clubs and societies

Congress also notes

That little recognition exists for these students in a formal capacity

Congress notes

The success of the BICS Awards and NUS Student Awards in the UK

Congress believes

That students who work hard in extracurricular activities should be acknowledged

Congress therefore mandates

Officer Board to organise USI Student Participation Awards, whereby students will be accredited for their involvement in local students unions, USI campaigns, clubs and societies; The President & Deputy President to bring forward to the first national council of 09/10 a cohesive plan for the Student Participation Awards which should include what categories will be included in the awards, who will be eligible, how they will be judged, who will judge them, deadlines etc

09/UO 4

Voter Registration Campaign Congress notes

The small percentage of students who are registered to vote and the even smaller percentage of students who utilise their right to vote.

Congress Further Notes

That in order to strengthen the National Campaign, it is essential that the number of students who are registered to vote increases greatly.

167


Congress mandates the Deputy President and Area Campaigns Officers

To produce an information pack for COs on how to register students to vote, to be sent out in advance of the close of submissions to the register of electors each year. This pack should include all the necessary information regarding closing dates for submissions to the register, information about postal voting for students, and how to submit applications to the various supplements to the register.

Congress further mandates the Area Campaigns Officers

To co-ordinate a ‘Voter Registration Week’ in each campus in their region and to facilitate the officers of each CO with the implementation of this campaign.

09/UO 5

Local Lobbying Congress notes

The effectiveness of local lobbying as a campaigning tool.

Congress believes

That, in addition to direct action, engaging in local lobbying is essential for the student population to highlight the issues which affect them.

Congress mandates the Area Campaigns Officers

To compile an updated ‘Local Lobbying Document’ every year, specific to each CO in their region, outlining all local TDs in the constituency where the CO is located and include contact details for each TD and details of his/her clinics. Each local lobby pack should also include a fact sheet with information on the National Campaign.

09/UO 6

Awareness of USI Eelection Congress notes

The lack of awareness amongst the student body regarding the elections for USI positions.

Congress mandates

The Deputy President to coordinate a poster campaign encouraging people to run as candidates for the various USI positions.

Congress further mandates

The Deputy President and Area Officers to organise an information campaign involving a series of CO visits in the weeks preceding the USI election nomination deadlines, with the aim of publicising USI, the positions available, and the difference the elections will make to student life.

09/UO 7

Forum for Returning Officers Congress recognises

That Students’ Unions are built on foundations of democracy, and that elections which allow students to exert their collective will are a vital aspect of every Students’ Union.

Congress notes

That many different systems and methods of electoral regulation are employed by Constituent Organisations across the country.

Congress further notes

That no system of electoral regulation is perfect, and that the sharing of ideas and experiences between Constituent Organisations will help to ensure fair, balanced, visible and relevant elections going forward.

168


Congress mandates

The Deputy President/Campaigns Officer to organise a forum of returning officers (including heads of electoral committees and other similar positions) from every Constituent Organisation, to facilitate the exchange of information and ultimately lead to an improvement in Students’ Union elections across the country.

Congress further mandates

The Deputy President/Campaigns Officer to compile a report detailing proposed ‘Best Practice’ in this area and for this report to be circulated to Constituent Organisations and presented to National Council.

09/UO 9

Operational Plan Congress recognises

The right and duty of the Officers of USI to work as guided by the mandates that they receive on election.

Congress further recognises

The need for a support structure to assist and enable such work.

Congress therefore mandates

That each member of Officer Board at the start of every quarter submit to the President their operational plan for the coming 3 months and from the second quarter submit a written report on the operations of the previous quarter. This will allow for proper planning and subsequent review. That all members of Officer Board, and Staff if possible, working in USI should meet once a week on a designated day, such meeting to be chaired by the President, to outline the work they plan for the coming week, to give a short report on the work done and results achieved during the previous week and to inform the President of their operational needs and generally to share their experiences with other officers. This meeting will deal solely with operational matters, not policy.

Congress asserts

That attendance at such meetings is a key part of an Officer’s working week.

09/UO 10

Training Events for Society Organisers Congress notes

The important role of student societies in college life.

Congress recognises

That while the quality of student society training in some colleges is excellent, in some other colleges there is need for better quality training events for student organisers.

Congress believes

That engagement with student societies is an excellent way for the national union to make itself more visible and relevant to students, and that a national training event would be a great networking and skill-sharing opportunity for student society organisers.

Congress therefore mandates

The Deputy President, Education Officer and Area Officers to organise a one day national society training event, sometime around the summer period, and invite all new or incoming society organisers to attend. This event should include modules on areas such as Small event organising and promotion Recruitment and student participation Managing a team

Congress also mandates

The aforementioned officers to evaluate the success of this event with a view to possibly making it an annual event.

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09/UO 12

No Béarla Campaign Congress recognises

The importance of the Irish Language Campaign, promotion of our native language, and the need to create dynamic and engaging initiatives to encourage people to use Irish on a daily basis.

Congress notes

That this year saw the inaugural “No Béarla” campaign in University College Dublin in which students spent a period of time using Irish as their only language.

Congress further notes

The success of this campaign, the level of positive feedback and engagement from the large and diverse student population of UCD, and the subsequent interest from other thirdlevel institutions.

Congress mandates

The Deputy President and Irish Language Officer to liaise with Irish Language Officers in CO’s across the country to introduce a national Nó Béarla campaign which will run simultaneously in CO’s across the country.

09/UO 13

Preferred Suppliers Congress believes

That there is strength in unity

Congress notes

That the large membership of the Union of Students Ireland can allow for significant discounts on products and services through purchasing in bulk

Congress mandates

The President to seek to use the incentive of the large membership base of USI to obtain discounted price estimates from suppliers of various goods and services and to create a list of USI Preferred Suppliers, those being the suppliers with the best business practices and most cost-effective estimates, for distribution to all C/Os at Union Organisation Seminar for their use during the year

09/UO 14

Policy Redevelopment Congress Notes

That presently, our policy book stands at just under 300 pages long.

Congress Believes

That students cannot accurately determine USI’s policies due to the extreme lack of coordination within the current policy book.

Congress Therefore Mandates

The President, in conjunction with the rest of Officer Board, to create a database, using database technology like Microsoft office access, and create a new database of mandates that will group mandates together under particular headings like grants, SHAG, accommodation, Quality Assurance, etc.

Congress Also Mandates

Officer Board to update this database with a summary of all the mandates passed at any conference or congress and not to include any of the preamble that appear in the long form of the motion.

170


Congress Further Mandates

Officer Board to print off this new database, which should now be used as the standard policy book, with the long form of the motion being retained in a separate document that is used for reference purposes only.

09/UO 16

Communications Meeting Congress Notes

That UOS Officer training is centralised mainly around Presidents, Education and Welfare Officers of COs. 

Congress Believes

Those Officers with a communications and publications brief would benefit from an informal meeting at UOS where they can share information, contacts and discuss matters such as student diaries and Freshers’ packs etc. 

Congress Mandates

Officer Board to hold a meeting of officers of COs who have a communications brief as part of their position in a CO as part of UOS Training. 

09/UO 18

Student Involvement Congress notes

The importance of large-scale student involvement in USI’s campaigns, as this organization’s strength is in its membership.

Congress acknowledges

That this year the Fight Fees Campaign has garnered a higher rate of student involvement

Congress notes that

The final report of the USI Participation Working Group within which statistics show that the majority of students interviewed offered ‘lack of time’ as their main reason for not getting involved in SU’s. It is also noteworthy that the majority of those interviewed/ surveyed were involved in clubs/societies and the SU or just clubs/societies.

Congress therefore mandates

The Deputy President and Area Officers to create a strong viral campaign (incorporating Facebook, texting, email, YouTube, college discussion boards etc) aimed at raising the profile of USI among its membership and to launch this campaign ahead of the 09/10 academic The Campaigns Working Group to put together a plan at its first meeting, to increase student involvement and recruit student activists into the national campaign; The Deputy President to launch a recruitment campaign aimed at getting students involved in the students’ union movement.

09/UO 19

Participation Working Group Congress notes

The creation of a participation working group by National Council in 2008 which was charged with investigating why particular cohorts of students are consistently underrepresented within both local students union and USI.

Congress further notes

08/UO 7 which expanded the lifetime of this working group to Congress 2009.

171


Congress acknowledges

The dedication and hard work of both the sabbatical and part time officers who volunteered to be a part of the working group in addition to their full time responsibilities in local unions and the unfortunate loss of one member of the working group in the middle of the academic year.

Congress also acknowledges

How valuable the outcomes of this research are to the development of the student movement at both local and national level.

Congress recognises

That the working group structure originally proposed may not be the most efficient method of completing this research and that the original proposal did not contain a comprehensive list of student groups who are underrepresented in SU structures. Furthermore the definition of socio economic disadvantage included in the original proposal has proven too restrictive to allow any meaningful research and in light of the current economic climate and the threats facing third level, an investigation into the effect of financial difficulties on student participation would be more appropriate.

Congress therefore mandates

The participation working group to continue its research for another academic year; The Equality Officer to take over all responsibility for this research and that a methodology for this research be decided in conjunction with the President and research staff and that this methodology be brought to the first national council of 09/10 for approval; The Equality Officer to investigate the participation of the following groups Students with Disabilities Mature Students Part Time Students and Postgraduate Students The Equality Officer to also investigate the effect of financial hardship on student participation.

09/UO 21

Recycling Facilities on Campus Congress notes with concern

The lack of recycling facilities on many CO campuses, and also the need for continued environmental awareness campaigns.

Congress recognises

The importance of the Colรกisti Glasa campaign at first and second level schools. The Colรกisti Glasa campaign is an environmental awareness programme designed to promote and aid the development of environmental systems in schools through creating awareness of recycling and waste management issues. This process helps students and staff to recognise the importance of environmental issues and take them more seriously in both their college and personal lives.

The initiative looks to:

Improve the college environment Reduce litter and waste Reduce fuel and litter bills Increase environmental awareness Work to reduce the impact of climate change and the destruction of the natural environment.

Congress mandates

The Campaigns Officer and the Environmental Officer: To work to launch a similar initiative geared specifically for higher education institutions among COs, and to work with national groups such as the The Green Planet Awards and The Change campaign in developing and delivering it.

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09/UO 22

Environmental Networking Congress commends

The growing number of Students’ Union Environmental Awareness Officers, and Environmental Societies and initiatives in colleges throughout the country.

Congress recognizes

The important role USI can play in facilitating communication between these groups.

Congress mandates the Campaigns Officer and the Environmental Awareness Officer

To collect and maintain a database of contact details for Environmental and Green Societies, and for Officers with responsibility for the Environmental Campaign in various COs, and to facilitate the networking of the Officers and Societies through a training day or workshop held before Christmas of each year.

09/UO 23

Compilation of Education Work Congress notes and commends

The enormity of work undertaken every year by Education Officers around the country in terms of Campaigns (e.g. exam stress campaigns), training (e.g. class rep training) and more.

Congress realises

The difficulty faced each year by every new incoming Education Officer in learning the ins and outs of the processes involved in implementing these campaigns, training events etc.

Congress also realises

That each institution has a different method by which they conduct these campaigns, training events etc. and that a resource by which each Education Officer could examine the practices used by Education Officers around the country would be very useful to Education Officers.

Congress therefore mandates

That the Education Officer compile all details of education campaigns, training courses and other work relevant to the job of the Education Officer and make it available to every Education Officer

09/UO 24

Disability Awareness Congress Notes

That many students with disabilities face an atmosphere of prejudice and misunderstanding during their time in higher education

Congress Further Notes

That many staff members in higher education institutes are ill-equipped to deal with students with disabilities

Congress Mandates

The Equality Officer and Disability Rights Officer to conduct a campaign aimed at raising awareness of various disabilities, and the challenges they pose to the students effected by them, among staff members in education institutes

Congress Further Mandates

The Equality Officer and Disability Rights Officer to work in conjunction with relevant trade unions, such as the TUI, IFUT, etc, on how best to distribute this campaign material to their members, be it through these trade union’s regular publications or some other means.

173


09/UO 25

Second Hand Bookshop Congress Notes

That there is a demand for second hand bookshop facilities among various Third Level Institutions.

Congress Notes with Regret

That the cost of Academic books can be quite high

Congress Notes Acknowledges

That many third level institutes use the same printed academic material.

Congress Further Notes

That second hand bookshops operate successfully in many Unions, namely NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin, and University of Limerick.

Congress Mandates

The Education Officer to investigate the feasibility of creating an on-line database of second hand books available among third level institutes that are in a close vicinity to each other.

Congress Further Notes

That this will improve facilities available to USI members.

09/UO 27

Equality Training Congress notes

That student union officers must be equipped to assist and advocate for all students including those who are likely to experience discrimination and barriers to participation such as students with disabilities, international students, LGBT students, students from the traveller community, mature students and students who are married and/or have children.

Congress also notes

That 27 mandates exist which discuss UOS [04/ED7; 04/WEL4; 04/UO9; 04/UO10; 04/ UO11; 05/UO1; 05/UO7; 05/22; 06/WEL5; 06/UO10; 06/UO12; 06/UO13; 06/UO15; 06/ UO16; 07/UO13; 07/UO20; 07/35; 07/LGBT3; 08/WEL7; 08/UO5; 08/UO18; 08/UO23; 08/ UO24; 08/UO29; 08/UO30; 08/UO32; 08/NA6] yet only one of these modules (04/UO9) deals with providing training to officers on an equality related issue. Furthermore this mandate will expire at the end of the 08/09 academic year.

Congress mandates

That the Equality Officer organise a module on the following at UOS: Disability Awareness Training; International Student Issues; Mature Student Issues and 1 general module which discusses other areas of equality not covered by the above modules and which also includes a synopsis of Equality Legislation (both Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland).

Congress acknowledges

That there are many part time officers who would benefit from such training but who are unable to attend UOS.

Congress further mandates

That the Equality Officer in conjunction with the Area Officers organise regional training events for part time officers on these issues before the end of September each year.

174


09/UO 28

Accessibility Issues Congress notes

That USI communicates with its members through a variety of media email, posters, flyers, booklets and the usi.ie website.

Congress further notes

That many standards exist which provide information on how to make the above named media accessible to students with disabilities in particular for students with dyslexia and students with visual impairments.

Congress recognises

The recent publication of ‘Good Practice Guidelines for the Providers of Supports & Services for Students with Disabilities in Higher Education’ by the Association for Higher Education Access & Disability (AHEAD) which includes comprehensive information on increasing accessibility.

Congress also recognises

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) which aims to develop guidelines which are widely regarded as the international standard for Web accessibility as well as support materials to help understand and implement Web accessibility.

Congress is disappointed

That the USI offices are currently not accessible to any person with a physical disability.

Congress understands

That USI has a lease of ten years with these premises which began in 2007 and are not in a financial position to buy out the remainder of the lease.

Congress therefore mandates

Officer Board to ensure that all emails and publications (incl. Posters and leaflets) be produced in an accessible format, in line with AHEAD’s Good Practice Guidelines The Equality Officer to compile a short document outlining the most salient guidelines involved in providing accessible information and to distribute this document to all CO’s; The Equality Officer to ensure that usi.ie, and any other website created by USI, are accessible under the standards outlined by WAI; The Equality Officer to investigate all possible means to increase the accessibility of the current office; The President to provide all reasonable accommodations to any student who wishes to run for election to USI Officer Board and who faces unnecessary barriers as a result of the inaccessibility of the current office.

09/UO 29

Equality Handbook Congress notes

That there are many different organisations across Ireland who work in the area of Equality.

Congress also notes

That there are a myriad of policies, publications, initiatives and legislation in the area of Equality.

Congress further notes

The poor institutional memory within the Equality Campaign due to the lack of an Equality Officer for a number of years.

Congress recognises

That the Equality Officer receives a number of individual queries from both student union officers and student members and that often these cases are best resolved by referring the case to an expert organisation.

175


Congress mandates

The Equality Officer to produce a handbook which includes at a minimum: A short summary of each organisation that works in the area of equality Relationship between the organisation and USI Information on who to contact in the organisation, if such a contact exists; A short summary and contact details of government departments, ministers, TD’s and senators who are responsible for areas related to Equality A summary of equality legislation in Ireland; A list of noteworthy publications in the area of equality A summary of the history of the Equality Campaign within USI Details of external funding opportunities for the campaign A short summary of notable European or International Organisations who work in the area of Equality.

Congress further mandates

That this handbook be updated annually by the Equality Officer, kept on the USI Server and be made available electronically to all constituent organisations.

09/UO 30

Equality within USI Congress notes

That the Equality Officer this year received funding to take part in the Equality Authority’s Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Scheme. The scheme consisted of hiring an external consultant who held focus groups with both officers and staff to determine the extent to which equality was incorporated into USI Policies and Procedures.

Congress further notes

That the review concluded in December 2008 with the presentation of an in depth report to the Equality Officer on ways in which USI Policies and Procedures needed to be improved in order to comply with current legislation in addition to promoting equality and diversity within the organisation.

Congress therefore mandates

The Equality Officer to complete the following Review on an annual basis the USI Employment Equality Policy & USI Equal Status Policy which were developed this year; Produce a template of these policies to be distributed to CO’s and assist CO’s in tailoring these policies to meet their individual needs; Constitute an equality committee within Ceann Áras which will consist of the Equality Officer, President and a senior member of staff. Initially, this committee will be responsible for the implementation of the recommendations of the final report of the SME Scheme. On an ongoing basis, the committee will be responsible for ensuring that USI is complying with current legislation and will be responsible for promoting equality and diversity within the organisation; Organise a training session for officers and staff, to take place, before the end of July each year, on issues related to equality within the workplace.

176


09/UO 31

Electronic Campaigns Congress notes

That a lack of funding has prevented publication of many USI materials this year, specifically by the Welfare and Education Officers

Congress further notes

The cost and environmental implications of printing and distribution of paper heavy materials for campaigns.

Congress also notes

The low impact of materials which are mainly paper, with many students simply taking whatever ‘freebies’ are also included in the materials.

Congress therefore mandates

Officer Board to always attempt to limit the amount of paper in any campaign materials, by utilising online resources and seeking out other innovate methods of distributing information

Congress further mandates

All officers to send electronic versions of any booklets, handbooks and other information publications to COs when cost prohibits the printing of such materials

09/UO 32

Regional Training Events Congress notes

The work put in by Officer Board to organise training events for COs throughout the year.

Congress regrets

The low turnout at these events.

Congress believes

That there would be a higher attendance at training events if they could be offered nearer to COs.

Congress therefore mandates

Officer Board to arrange for all training events to be offered in each region where there is sufficient interest within the regions.

09/UO 33 Facebook

Congress notes

The trouble with the USI website again this year

Congress believes USI cannot continue to function without a strong internet presence

Congress notes

The existence of an underdeveloped USI Facebook page

Congress mandates The President to promote the USI Facebook page and to use it to communicate with members of USI

177


09/UO 35

Summer Employment Scheme Congress notes

The financially difficult time at present.

Congress also notes

That the issue of Fee’s has still not been rectified.

Congress further notes

That with the uncertainty around the issue of Fee’s, the increase in registration fees, along with the lack of summer employment for students.

Congress therefore mandates The President to create a USI Student Summer Employment Campaign.

09/AF1

Finance Committee Reporting Congress notes

The constitutional and policy guidelines regarding the reporting of Finance Committee to National Council

Congress regrets

That in recent years these guidelines have not been followed.

Congress believes

That transparent and accountable practice is essential to the financial health of the Union.

Congress therefore mandates

The President to present options to the August National Council, of the methods in which the finance committee shall report to National Council

Congress further mandates

The President to ensure that reports are submitted to National Council throughout the year, in compliance with the USI constitution

09/EM 1 Budget 2009

Congress notes

The massive deterioration in the global financial economy and its effects on the Irish economy.

Congress further notes

The contents of the emergency budget on the 7th April 2009.

Congress recognises

The positive elements of the budget that affect students including modifications to the Back to Education allowance.

Congress acknowledges

That in the current financial situation difficult and unpalatable decisions will have to be made.

Congress notes

However that the current generation of students will be the ones to carry the burden of debts incurred by this Government.

178


Congress criticises

The lack of acceptance from the Government that the severity of our current difficulties have been exacerbated by the unwise, unsustainable and populist economic policies which they have implemented over the last twelve years.

Congress further criticises

The lack of a clear long term plan for economic recovery and the almost complete lack of job creation measures in the budget.

Congress therefore mandates

The President and the Deputy-President to fight all cutbacks that pertain to students contained in the budget.

09/ EM 2

Courtesy at Congress Congress notes

USI’s core principle that Unity is Strength

Congress also notes

In the past a level of decency and courtesy was afforded to speakers, delegates and their leaders.

Congress believes

In the CO’s democratic right to represent any and all student views and always to respect diverse and different views.

Congress mandate

The President to ensure these basic levels of courtesy is afforded to all student delegates and their leaders and impress this upon steering and congress.

179


USI ACCOUNTS

180


UNION OF STUDENTS IN IRELAND (USI) 1. ACCOUNTING POLICIES The results for the year have been determined and the Balance Sheet compiled in accordance with the following significant accounting policies. A change in accounting policy has taken place and the accounts are now presented on a cash receipts basis.

A. GOING CONCERN The Financial Statements have been prepared on the going concern basis.

B. DEPRECIATION Fixed Assets are stated at cost less accumulated depreciation. Depreciation is calculated to write off the cost of the assets over their estimated useful lives at the following rates:

Leasehold Premises Computer Equipment Fixtures and Fittings Office Equipment Leased Office Equipment

10% Straight Line 33.33% Straight Line 15% Straight Line 15% Straight Line 15% Straight Line

C. UNION MEMBERSHIP SUBSCRIPTIONS New and renewal memberships are credited to the Income & Expenditure Account in the year in which they are reeived.

D. LEASES (OPERATING) Where fixed assets are financed by leasing agreements which do not give rights approximate to ownership (“operating leases”), they are treated as if they are an Income & Expenditure item and are debited thereto in the year in which they are paid. They are disclosed on the face of the Income & Expenditure Account as “Rental of Office Equipment”. The operating leases relate to the Union’s photocopier and printer.

2. MEMBERSHIP CONTRIBUTIONS The Union of Students in Ireland charges each of its affiliated Colleges/Universities Students Union a set annual rate for each student that signs up to become a member of USI. The annual rates are as follows: Rate 1 : €5.00 per Full-Time Student Rate 2 : €2.50 per Part-Time Student The colleges/universities are invoiced by USI per the number of students enrolling for membership and are requested to pay the invoice in full, within the accounting year in question.

181


RECEIPTS & PAYMENTS ACCOUNT FOR THE YEAR ENDED 30 JUNE 2011 RECEIPTS

2011

2010

Affiliation Fees

554,518

584,765

UOS Training (Sabbatical Officer Training)

23,790

32,450

Sponsorship & Advertising

2,608

27,922

Annual Congress

25,732

9,126

Pink (LGBT) Training

15,422

16,242

50th Anniversary Celebrations

-----

6,690

Other Training

1,202

-----

623,272

677,195

14,092

19,383

PAYMENTS UOS (Sabbatical Officer Training) Pink (LGBT) Training

13,447

Other Training Expenditure

8,466

6,035

Annual Congress

7,309

8,460

-----

17,681

Salaries and State Insurance

339,895

339,461

Officer Expenses

45,788

35,542

Staff Expenses

3,459

2,620

Staff & Officer Welfare & Development

5,228

3,650

Temporary Staff

2,940

-----

50th Anniversary Celebrations

Motor

90

456

Standing Committee Expenses

9,617

9,825

Rent and Rates

44,855

44,000

Storage & Archiving

4,271

3,712

Light and Heat

2,578

2,760

Insurance

999

991

Telecoms

21,287

17,073

Cleaning Environmental & Waste Disposal

3,347

4,474

IT & Technical Support

6,800

9,612

Printing, Postage & Stationery

5,212

7,635

Campaign Expenses

74,986

44,688

Delivery Expenses

2,726

4,204

Media Monitoring

10,039

4,286

Legal Fees

1,842

1,065

Accountancy Fees

10,285

10,285

Bank Interest and Charges

1,630

2,012

Subscriptions & Advertising

4,815

5,733

NUS-USI

182

14,379

Miscellaneous

10,000

-----

1,733

1,157


Seminars and Conferences

2,836

9,198

Rental of Office Equipment

10,710

11,858

Accommodation & Travel

15,169

13,540

Computer Equipment

8,084

-----

Repairs and Renewals

367

Surplus/ (Deficit) for the year

-----

695,834

654,843

(72,562)

22,352

183


INCOME AND EXPENDITURE ACCOUNT FOR THE YEAR ENDED 30 JUNE 2011 INCOME

2011

2010

Affiliation Fees

631,660

603,587

UOS (Sabbatical Officer Training)

23,790

32,750

Sponsorship & Advertising

2,608

1,922

Annual Congress

25,732

9,126

Pink (LGBT) Training

16,372

16,242

50th Anniversary Celebrations

-----

6,690

Other Training

1,972

-----

702,134

670,317

14,092

21,635

EXPENDITURE UOS (Sabbatical Officer Training) Pink (LGBT) Training

14,629

13,448

Other Training Expenditure

8,466

6,042

Annual Congress

7,308

8,460

50th Anniversary Celebrations

-----

17,680

Salaries and State Insurance

338,439

345,827

Officer Expenses

45,788

35,542

Staff Expenses

3,459

2,620

Staff & Officer Welfare & Development

5,228

3,650

Temporary Staff

2,940

Motor

456

9,617

9,825

44,000

44,855

Storage & Archiving

2,954

3,216

Light and Heat

2,578

2,760

Insurance

999

991

Telephone

20,439

17,620

3,857

4,190

Standing Committee Expenses Rent and Rates

Cleaning Environmental & Waste Disposal

184

------

90

IT & Technical Support

7,610

9,612

Printing, Postage & Stationery

4,970

9,209

Campaign Expenses

65,352

43,700

Delivery Expenses

2,712

3,505

Media Monitoring

10,434

4,870

Legal Fees

1,846

1,605

Accountancy Fees

10,285

10,285


Bank Interest and Charges

1,630

2,012

Subscriptions & Advertising

3,581

7,205

Depreciation

4,099

1,405

NUS-USI

10,000

-----

Miscellaneous

1,733

1,154

Seminars and Conferences

1,070

6,938

Rental of Office Equipment

9,218

11,858

Accommodation & Travel

15,169

13,540

Repairs and Renewals

Surplus/ (Deficit) for the year

367

------

674,959

665,715

27,175

4,602

185


BALANCE SHEET AS AT 30 JUNE 2011 Note s

1

5,389

1,404

5,389

1,404

141,741 174,967

51,830 260,854

316,708

312,684

31,401 20,426

38,965 32,028

51,827

70,993

Net Current Assets

264,881

241,691

Total assets less current liabilities

270,270

243,095

204,368 27,175

199,766 4,602

231,543

204,368

38,727

38,727

270,270

243,095

Fixed Assets

CURRENT ASSETS Debtors and Prepayments Cash and Bank Balances

CURRENT LIABILITIES Creditors and Accruals Bank Overdraft and Loans

2

REPRESENTED BY:

CAPITAL ACCOUNT Balance at Beginning of Year Net Surplus/Deficit for the Year

Capital Reserve

In accordance with the engagement letter dated 1st July 2010, we approve the accounts and notes. We acknowledge our responsibility for the accounts and for providing Dermot O Malley & Co with all explanations necessary for its completion

GARY REDMOND, PRESIDENT DATE:

186

HUGH O REILLY, CHAIR FINANCE COMMITTEE


INCOME AND EXPENDITURE ACCOUNT FOR THE YEAR ENDED 30 JUNE 2011 NOTE 1 FIXED ASSET SCHEDULE

CLOSING

OPENING BALANCE

ADDITIONS

DISPOSALS

BALANCE

Fixtures & Fittings

114,727

----

----

€ 114,727

Office Equipment

91,887

----

----

91,887

Leased Office Equipment

32,415

----

----

Computer Equipment

68,299

8,084

------

32,415 76,383

307,328

8,084

----

315,412

OPENING

CHARGE

CLOSING

BALANCE IN YEAR DISPOSALS BALANCE ACCUMULATED DEPRECIATION

CLOSING

OPENING BALANCE

ADDITIONS

DISPOSALS

BALANCE

Fixtures & Fittings

114,727

-------

----

€ 114,727

Office Equipment

91,887

----

----

91,887

Leased Office Equipment

32,415

----

----

Computer Equipment

66,895

4,099

----

32,415 70,994

305,924

4,099

----

310,023

OPENING

CHARGE

CLOSING

187


NOTES ON THE ACCOUNTS (CONT’D)

2. DEBTORS & PREPAYMENTS

2011 2010 € € Affiliation Fees/Training/Other Income 130,741 40,830 Rent Prepayment 11,000 11,000 141,741

51,830

3. EMPLOYEES

The employees of USI comprise permanent staff and officers. The officers represent the USI Officer Board, which is the body that runs the union on a day to day basis. Those elected as officers serve on the board for one year from the 1st July 2010 to 30th June 2011, in line with the accounting year end. Number of Employees The average yearly number of employees during the period was: 2011 2010 € € Full-Time Staff 2 2 Part Time Staff 1 2 Officers – one year contracts 9 9 12 13 Employment Full Time & Officers Costs 2011 2010 Salaries 301,013 305,479 Social Welfare Costs 31,796 32,684 Irish Officer Salary Contribution 5,439 ------ 338,248

338,163

Temporary Staff Costs (50th Celebrations) 2011 2010 Salaries ----- 6,830 Social Welfare Costs ----- 726 ----- 7,556 Temporary Staff Costs (Office)

2011

2010

Salaries 2,940 ---- 2,940 -----

188


NOTES ON THE ACCOUNTS (CONT’D) Congress 2011 was operated by Marathon Travel Ltd. All Income from delegates and observers was received by Marathon Travel Ltd and expenditure was paid by Marathon Travel Ltd. A review of Debtors was carried out by Union of Students in Ireland at 30th June 2011. It was agreed to write off Affiliation Fee Income of €47,070.25 which is deemed unrecoverable.

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NAME/AMIN


USI Congress 2012 Clár