UCD Students’ Union will hold a referendum in November regarding its affiliation with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). At a date yet to be confirmed, UCD students will be given the option as to whether UCD SU should continue to pay over €100,000 to stay affiliated with the USI.
One of the functions of the USI is to challenge government policies on a national front however UCD SU’s affiliation to this organization has come into question on the basis of their differing stances on fees. During the last academic year, UCD students voted to keep the current method in which fees are paid, that is student contribution. In contrast, the USI is fighting for a situation in which students don’t have to pay any fees for their third level education.
Should UCD students decide to disaffiliate from the USI it will then be “up to the sabbatical team, executive team and council to assess what are our needs on a national level” stated Rachel Breslin, president of UCD SU. “I do believe that we need some sort of representation on a national level. It’s certainly easier within USI…but we have to see how we can relate on a national level” she continued.
Breslin informed the College Tribune that the SU would not be taking a stance on the referendum however she was adamant that a national organization is preferable when challenging government policies.
Another important function of the USI is to liaise with the Higher Education Authority (HEA). The USI are the sole student representative body with a seat on the HEA and disaffiliation will mean that UCD no longer have access to that seat, according to Breslin. The loss of access to the HEA leaves the future very uncertain and “that will be difficult if students choose to [disaffiliate] but I respect that and I will certainly make sure that we work to provide a solution in that area” commented Breslin.
– Peter Hamilton.