This document identifies the policies due to expire at the close of USI Congress 2015.

A prioritisation ballot system exists on the USI Website to identify in which order motions will be debated at Congress, in the ‘Policies Due to Expire’ section.

Motions not receiving a priority will still be available to debate at Congress. Steering Committee will call each motion – and if no person speaks on the motion either in favour or against it, it will fall and be excised from the policy file.

Table of Contents

Prioritisation Ballot

This form to be filled out by your MO’s Delegation Leader.

Your name, please.
Your Email Address for contact
Please list the 10 (max) motions you would like to prioritise.

Motion Text

ACADEMIC AFFAIRS & QUALITY ASSURANCE

 

2011

11 / ED  1  MOTION ON PAY SCHEME CHANGES FOR NURSING STUDENTS

 

Congress notes

The dedication of student nurses and midwives to their patients in the face of difficult conditions and understaffing in teaching hospitals and the number of unpaid hours put in by these students up to their final year.

 

Congress further notes

The decision by An Bord Altranais to phase out the wage for the 36 week internship of final year nursing and midwifery students.

Congress recognises

The essential role that nursing and midwifery interns have in HSE run hospitals and the level of personal and professional responsibility undertaken by these interns.

 

Congress mandates the President, Deputy President, Education, Equality and all Area Officers

To lobby An Bord Altranais as well as the Ministers for Health and Children and Minister for Education & Science to reverse this decision.

 

Congress further mandates the President and Deputy President

To liaise with the INMO and the INMO youth forum as well as all COs offering nursing or midwifery courses with regard to action to be taken by nursing students and the INMO to effect the reversal of this decision including but not limited to industrial action by nursing students during their internship.

 

 

11 / ED 2   THE HUNT REPORT

 

Congress notes

The publication of the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 known as the Hunt Report.

 

Congress believes

That all stakeholders, particularly students, will benefit from having clear, defined long term goads for the sector.

 

Congress recognises

The impact that this Report may have on the education sector as a whole.

Congress mandates the President and the Education Officer

To ensure that there is student representation at all levels of where authority to implement recommendations of the Hunt Report lies.

 

 

11 / ED  3                      STUDENT CONTRIBUTION CHARGE

 

Congress notes

The scrapping of the Registration Fee and its replacement with the Student Contribution Charge.

 

Congress further notes

That these increases will make attending Higher Education even more difficult than was previously the case.

 

Congress recognises

That front loading of the Student Contribution Charge and other associated costs with attending Higher Education into the first half of the first semester further strains the budgets of students and their families.

 

Congress mandates the Education Officer

To campaign to ensure that all colleges operate an instalment plan whereby students can pay the Student Contribution Charge in smaller lump sums spread throughout the Academic Year.

 

 

11 / ED  4            SUPPORT FUNDS FOR PART-TIME STUDENTS

 

Congress notes

That a number of support funds including the Fund for Student with Disabilities, the Student Assistance Fund and the Maintenance Grant are only available for students studying on a full-time basis in recognised Higher Education Institutes.

 

Congress further notes

That part-time students are not able to avail of the “free-fees” scheme.

 

Congress mandates the Education Officer, Welfare Officer and Equality Officer

To campaign and lobby for support funds and the free fees scheme to be extended to include part-time students.

 

 

11 / ED  5                      ECTS HARMONISATION

 

Congress notes

Irelands increasing compliance with the Bologna Process.

 

Congress further notes

That the Bologna process has improved the level of transferability and comparability of awards across the European Higher Education Area.

 

 

Congress recognises

That much work remains to be done to implement harmonisation of hours on work required to earn an ECTS credit.

 

Congress mandates the Education Officer

To investigate the situation on a national and local level and ascertain trends in compliance by college and by broad subject area and then to lobby institutions to correct shortfalls and excesses that are present.

 

 

11 / ED  6                      EXAM REGULATIONS

 

Congress notes

That the regulations concerning progression, transfer and quality of awards subsequent to students having failed an exam in an award year differ between institutions.

 

Congress believes

That this situation creates inequalities given that students who get the same results in different institutions will achieve different outcome which is contrary to national and international guidelines.

 

Congress mandates the Education Officer

To investigate each institution, prepare and submit a report to National Council detailing which Colleges are deviating from national and international guidelines.

 

 

11 / ED  7                      “YOUR FUTURE CAMPAIGN”

 

Congress notes

The importance of informing students about their options after they leave college in relation to careers and job opportunities, increasing employability, postgraduate study and working abroad.

 

Congress acknowledges

That in the current economic climate, there are a number of difficulties facing graduates, and a significant degree of concern exists among students in relation to this.

 

Congress therefore mandates the Officerboard

To run a national “Your Future” campaign and provide materials, information and contacts focused on this area to local Cos.

11 / ED  8                      PUBLIC SECTOR MORATORIUM

 

Congress believes

That the Public Sector Moratorium was a blunt tool used to reduce public sector staffing numbers that has ended up impacting frontline education and health services unnecessarily.

 

Congress also believes

That the Moratorium is forcing many Irish graduates, that would normally be streamed into public service, to emigrate to countries like Australia, Canada and the UK.

 

Congress notes

USI’s policies on graduate unemployment, and the consistent campaign to create jobs for graduates in Ireland

 

Congress mandates the President and Officer board

To call for and work towards a re-negotiation of the Public Sector Moratorium to improve prospects for employment for Irish graduates with the newly formed Government.

 

 

11 / ED  9                      GRADUATE UNEMPLOYMENT

Congress notes

That Ireland is facing a major jobs and competitiveness crisis.

 

Congress further notes

That over 150,000 people will emigrate from Ireland by 2015, a vast majority of which will be graduates. This figure is the equivalent of every graduate Ireland produces over the next five years leaving the country.

Congress believes

That with almost 100,000 Irish people under the age of 25 on the live register it is imperative that all political parties recognise the severity of the jobs crisis among younger people and make the issue of graduate unemployment a main priority going forward.

 

Congress mandates the Deputy President, Education Officer and Area Officers

To continue working on tackling graduate unemployment by lobbying for the implementation of measures recommended in USI’s ‘Reigniting the Smart Economy’.

 

Congress therefore adopts

The measures proposed in ‘Reigniting the Smart Economy’ as USI policy.

 

Congress further mandates

The Deputy President, Education Officer and Area Officers to put pressure on the government to produce a comprehensive long-term strategy to tackle graduate unemployment.

 

 

11 / ED 10                    EFFECT OF RECESSION

Congress notes

There is a large, if relatively unknown body, of economic and social research statistics on the effects of the recession on businesses, families etc.

 

Congress also notes

That in talking about how students, and the families that they are increasingly reliant on, have been affected, it is difficult to show comprehensively how the recession has impacted students’ finances along with their family finances.

 

Congress mandates Officer Board

To commission/compile an impact assessment report on how the recession has affect student finances, and also how it has affected families supporting students.

 

Congress recommends

That this report should take into consideration: public sector/private sector representation in supporting families and the recessionary impact on them, personal and national debt analysis and how over indebtedness affects people/families, geographic analysis of recessionary impact to aid regional COs, drop in student employment, and if possible the significant drop in student/family expenditure.

 

 

11 / ED 11                    PUBLIC-FUNDING MODEL

Congress notes

The large amount of motions in favour of publicly-funded educational institutes funded through progressive taxation measures, as opposed to tuition fee/loans scheme/mixed model of funding.

 

Congress notes

The reports commissioned and compiled by NUS-UK i.e. ‘Broke and Broken’, on the UK funding scenario, and the effects of implementing higher fees/loans scheme etc that it would have on 3rd-level funding and equality of access.

 

Congress further notes

That though there is a large body of research that the USI uses, there is not one comprehensive citable document which outlines the case for why public-funding through progressive taxation is a) more equitable and b) provides greater overall funding to the 3rd level sector.

 

Congress mandates Officer Board

To compile a single comprehensive and researched document on the public-funding model proposed through various USI policies.

 

 

11 / ED 12           CONTINUED SUPPORT FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF GRANGEGORMAN CAMPUS

 

Congress notes

That the development of the Grangegorman Campus is an essential cornerstone of Higher Education Strategy in Ireland, and that it will be of immeasurable benefit to the local community, and Ireland.

 

Congress further notes

That DIT caters for approximately eleven percent of all Higher Education activity nationally.

 

Congress applauds

The Government’s decision to approve the development, and the support that is currently present across the political parties.

 

Congress mandates the President, and Officer Board

To lobby the Government and the HEA to continue to support the project, in conjunction with the DIT Students’ Union.

 

 

11 / ED 13           HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING DEBATE

 

Congress recognises

The current economic climate and the effect it has on 3rd level funding,

Congress notes

That without the free fees system, Ireland would not have become such a large exporter of goods and services.

Congress mandates the President

To organise a “Third Level Funding Debate”, where members of the Union, and other interested parties at the discretion of National Council, can put forward ideas about how third level education can be funded.

Congress notes

The importance of this being an open forum, with all options being considered, and not being dismissed out of hand.

 

Congress mandates the President

To develop a funding strategy based on this debate, and to present it to National Council.

Congress further mandates the President

To have this completed by June 2011.

 

 

11 / ED 14                    NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND

Congress notes

That since 1908 the National University of Ireland has graduated hundreds of thousands of students with approximately 250,000 still living both in Ireland and abroad, and that the NUI degree is an invaluable brand boosting employment opportunities and improving perceived esteem to graduates of the NUI than that of their individual constituent college alone.

 

Congress further notes

That the proposed savings from abolishing the University are in fact neutralised by the need to replace the NUI’s key functions in all nine constituent colleges, and will save at most €18,000 to the exchequer.

 

Congress condemns

The ill-conceived proposal by the then Minister for Education, Batt O’Keeffe to abolish the NUI which predates the state and has a long and proud history of supporting and fostering the Irish language, history and culture.

 

Congress mandates Officer Board

To work with the Senate and Convocation of the NUI in opposing the abolition, in favour of pro-active reform, of the National University of Ireland.

 

 

11 / ED 15                              RGAM

Congress notes

The inequality in funding distribution currently practised by the Higher Education Authority under the auspices of the Recurrent Grant Allocation Model (RGAM), and the intention to expand RGAM to all higher education institutions in Ireland.

 

Congress further notes

That proposed alterations to the existing funding model to Universities made in November 2010 by the HEA will reward institutions with significantly higher proportions of students from more well-off socio-economic backgrounds while withdrawing funding from institutions who are meeting the applied targets in terms of access and social inclusion in the name of rationalisation.

 

Congress condemns

The insistence of certain state agencies on modelling all funding provision systems on the UK equivalents, where social inclusion in higher education has in fact fallen steadily since 2003 under the supervision of those schemes.

 

Congress mandates the President and Education Officer

To oppose the expansion of RGAM until the model has been re-evaluated and to encourage a full and meaningful review of RGAM before any further changes to funding of higher education institutions is enacted.

 

 

11 / ED 16                    ANONYMOUS MARKING

Congress notes

That the practice of students writing their names on exam papers remains.

 

Congress believes

That anonymous marking removes the potential for bias and ensures the impartiality and integrity of the examination process.

 

Congress mandates the Education Officer

To campaign for anonymous marking for written examinations in all institutes of further and higher education.

 

11 / ED 17           FUNDING FOR MATURE STUDENTS

Congress notes

That in the past two years, there have been significant changes in rates and eligibility for mature students in relation to the Maintenance Grant, which have resulted in some students suffering a significant drop in funding.

 

Congress notes

That thee automatic entitlement of mature students to the non-adjacent rate of the Maintenance Grant had been based on higher than average living costs, and this has now been removed.

 

Congress mandates the Equality Officer and the Education Officer

To compose a policy document outlining a new method of support funding for mature students and non-mature students which will be assessed on a more individual basis to account for matters such as, but not limited to, the number and age of dependents and travel costs associated with dependents in pre-school, first-level or second level education etc.

 

 

11 / ED 18                    MATHEMATICS BONUS POINTS

Congress condemns

The decision by many higher education institutions in the past year to agree to a re-introduction of bonus points for higher level mathematics in the leaving certificate regardless of course of entry to higher education.

 

Congress notes

The historical legacy of failure of the third-level sector in solving second-level problems by imposing admissions requirements on second-level students without engaging in wide-ranging consultations on curriculum reform.

 

 

Congress mandates the Education Officer

To prepare a policy document in accordance with this and previous national council motions on the subject and to lobby for the reversal of the decision to offer bonus points by the institutions concerned.

 

 

11 / ED 19                    MAINTENANCE GRANTS 2

Congress notes

The current situation of higher education maintenance grants criteria is firstly based on what education institution they attend.

 

Congress believes

That third level education should be an open playing field for students and grants should be made available to students based on each individual circumstance on meeting the required criteria rather than on what education institution they attend.

 

Congress further notes

That there should be equality and accessibility to education to everyone, for further progressing the opportunities available to students and that that the current grants system is inequitable, significantly unfair and is a barrier to those trying to attend third-level education.

 

Congress also believes

That USI should be in a position to fight for equitable access to education grants in every circumstance.

 

Congress therefore mandates

The President, Deputy President, Education Officer and the rest of Officer Board

To take action in lobbying the Minister for Education and Skills, pursuant to Section 8 of the Student Support Act 2011, to provide that private colleges such as Griffith College are included in the Higher Education Grant Scheme.

 

 

11 / ED 20                    PRIVATE SCHOOLS

 

Congress recognises

That we as a student movement must strive for real equality and equal opportunities 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 often determined many years before that child sits the Leaving Certificate.

Congress further recognises

That many potential college 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 elitism among students 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 partly publicly-funded, but which is only accessible to those who can afford it.  This gives them a significant advantage over public school students in the CAO race for places in third-level courses.

 

Congress mandates USI Officer Board

To campaign for the removing of state funding for private primary and secondary schools, and for any monies saved to be re-invested in the wider, publicly-funded and publicly-accessible education system including primary, secondary and third level education.

 

 

11 / ED 21           POSTGRADUATE LOAN SCHEME

Congress notes

That the cost of postgraduate education courses can be prohibitive for many students.

 

Congress mandates the President, Deputy President, Education Officer and Postgraduate Officer

To formulate policy that would propose a state guaranteed loan scheme for postgraduates who wish to avail of it.

 

Congress further mandates Officer Board

To lobby the department of Education and the department of Finance for its adoption.

 

 

 

2010

10 / ED  4            INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Congress notes

That every year a substantial number of International Students travel to Ireland to study within our higher education system.

 

Congress recognizes

That these International students can pay large sums of money, on average €12,000 per year to study in our 3rd level institutions.

 

Congress further recognizes                                                                                                                           That there have been a number of issues with regards to these students arriving in Ireland with regards to Irish Customs.

 

Congress mandates

The President to work on behalf of the International students to put in place an International Student Charter detailing student rights and responsibilities in the third level CO’s where they are studying. By the development of the framework each IoT and University would become responsible for the treatment of International Students when travelling to Ireland.

 

 

10 / ED  5            LEGAL PROFESSION

Congress notes That to enter the legal profession in Ireland, one must overcome many financial and social obstacles.

Congress further notes That these obstacles mean that the majority undertaking a career in law are those who can afford it and who have pre-existing ties to the legal profession

Congress notes with concern                                                                                                                                     That such obstacles include

  • Exceptionally high costs for postgraduate study in the King’s Inns, with a one year degree course costing €12,000. This course is also run during the day (as opposed to the evening diploma course) so people cannot work full time simultaneously.
  •  Barristers in their first year of practice must be able to afford to work for free during their year’s apprenticeship, also known as ‘devilling’. The apprenticeship must also take place in Dublin, thus increasing costs for candidates even further if forced to live away from home.

Congress believes That while the abolition of third level fees has delivered good progress in increasing access to education for people of all social backgrounds, more must be done to ensure that these artificial barriers to real educational equality of opportunity in certain professions are removed.

Congress affirms its belief that No profession should be the sole preserve of the wealthy and socially connected.

Congress mandates The President and the Education officer to give a presentation to the Joint Oireachtas committee on Education and Science on access to the legal system

The President and Deputy to campaign and lobby for the extension of the higher education grants scheme to those taking barrister and solicitor courses.

 

 

10 / ED  7            STUDENT FUNDING

Congress notes

That with the economy struggling, students need all the help they can get in securing funding in the form of grants, scholarships and other non-traditional forms of supports for college degrees.

Congress believes

That USI needs to lobby the Department of Education to compile a list of all forms of funding for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees that is available to students in every third-level institute in the country.

Congress notes

That the studentfinance.ie website is a great resource for students and prospective students, and that it should be utilised more to help people looking for financial information before going to college.

Congress mandates

The Education Officer to lobby the Department of Education to publicise the aforementioned list of funding available on the studentfinance.ie website.

 

 

10 / ED  8                      BTEA CAMPAIGN

Congress notes

That the removal of the entitlement of Back to Education students to a maintenance grant will cost unemployed mature students in the region of €7,000 a year in expected income.

 

 

Congress firmly believes

That the decision to bring in this measure was wrong, unfair, and is not in the interests of this country, either financially or socially.

 

Congress notes

That for many people trying to go back to education, the Budget cuts represent a loss of over 25% in expected income Union of Students in Ireland Annual Congress 2010 Comhdhail Bhliaintuil Aontas na Mac Leinn in Eirinn 2010 – 24 – – 24 –

 

Congress mandates

The Education Officer to organise a sustained campaign to reverse this decision before the Department of Education & Science finalises it‟s implementation over the summer.

 

 

10 / ED 9                       MEETING FEEDBACK

Congress notes

That USI, as the National Union representing most students studying at third-level colleges in Ireland, holds seats on all the bodies charged with policy, funding quality assurance and regulation of the third level sector, such as the HEA and NQAI and others.

 

Congress notes with concern

The lack of institutional memory in USI with regard to issues discussed at these meeting.

 

Congress further notes

The importance of this high-level involvement for the constituent members of USI who pay an annual affiliation fee to USI.

 

Congress therefore mandates

The President and Education Officer to create effective briefing and reporting communication channels, pre and post these meetings which USI attends (Pre meeting to consist of a notification of agenda items, and what stance USI plans to take on each, and an aide memoir post meeting of the discussion of each topic, what USI represented to the meeting and what the outcomes was.) on behalf of CO‟s, and where matters relevant to the COs are decided upon.

 

 

10 / ED 11                              APPRENTICES

Congress notes

That over the past number of years the increase within the trades industry with regards to Ireland.

 

Congress further notes

That with the economic downturn many of these apprentices have been left with no job and in some cases incomplete qualifications.

 

Congress recognises

The need to provide further education opportunities in the face of the ever-changing employment landscape of Ireland.

 

Congress mandates

The President and the Education Officer to lobby the Department of Education and the Higher Education Authority to clearly state, in a national framework, the eligibility of qualified apprentices to progress into relevant degree courses.

 

 

10 / ED 12                              BUDGETS

Congress notes

That the current volatile economic climate, each Budget is likely to have significant impact on students.

 

Congress further notes

That the fear and worry caused by budgets may cause avoidable harm to the welfare to Students.

 

Congress therefore mandates

The USI Education Officer, as soon as possible subsequent to the delivery each budget, to the write an explanatory memorandum of the impacts of the budget on student and communicate it to all CO’s.

 

 

 

 

2009

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

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 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 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 further mandates

USI to adopt the following principles on the Bologna process to be implemented by the president and the education officer

 

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 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 student-centred 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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 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 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
  • 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 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 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

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

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

 

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 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.

 

 

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 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 education officer to ensure that contact details of all postgraduate officers are available in the database.

 

Congress further mandates

The education officer to organize meetings with the postgraduate officers, if necessary, to address their issues.

 

 

09 / ED 25           POSTGRADUATE WORK PLACEMENTS

 

Congress notes

The cost incurred by students entering into work placement positions. Often these placements take on the form of free labour for employers.

Congress believes

That all 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.

 

 

 

 

09 / ED 28          POSTGRADUATE CAMPAIGN

 

Congress notes

The growing population of postgraduate students within USI

 

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

 

 

 
 
 
WELFARE

 

 

2011

11 / WEL  1                                      LEGAL ISSUES

Congress notes

The regularity with which local welfare officers encounter situations with legal ambiguity e.g. cases involving sexual, physical abuse, accommodation issues etc

 

Congress further notes

Often welfare officers feel underequipped to deal with or are unaware of their legal responsibilities in these situations.

 

Congress therefore mandates the Welfare Officer

To liaise with relevant organisations to produce a legal factsheet on the situations that frequently arise throughout a typical Academic year. The Welfare Officer should also provide training if necessary on certain legal aspects as requested by welfare working group.

 

Congress notes

It is not possible for this factsheet to be exhaustive or to be equivalent to legal advice, but all efforts should be made to be as comprehensive as possible.

 

 

11 / WEL  2                            PHYSICAL HEALTH

Congress notes

The lack of mandates and policy on the issue of students and physical health.

 

Congress notes with concern

The tendency of young people to sacrifice physical health for academic achievement through lack of sleep, lack of exercise and poor diet.

 

Congress further notes

The diet, exercise and lifestyle play a vital role in a students’ ability to engage productively with their education.

 

Congress therefore mandates the welfare officer

To design a strategy document on physical health, making reference to the following:-

Stress Management

Access to healthcare

Awareness of prevalent illnesses

Cost and value for money of student gyms

Availability of non-competitive sport

Diet and nutrition

Sports Clubs

Training at UOS for welfare officers

Relevance of physical health to mental health.

Body image and eating disorders

This document should incorporate relevant mandates from the USI Policy Manual.

 

 

11 / WEL  3                     UPDATING IRISH LAW IN REGARD TO SEXUAL ASSAULT

Congress notes

The outdated nature of current legislation relating to crimes of a sexual nature.

 

Congress further notes

That the number of people utilising the services provided by organizations such as one in four and the Dublin rape crisis centre is much higher than the number of cases of crimes of a sexual nature that are reported and that the number of reported cases that are tried are much lower again.

 

Congress regrets

The inconsistencies with regard to gender, maximum sentencing and definition of sexual assault in Irish law in comparison with the law in other countries and the effect that this poor legislation has on the victims of sexual assault, rape etc.

 

Congress mandates the Welfare and Equality Officers

To lobby the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform for a thorough review of all legislation relating to crimes of a sexual nature and to liaise with groups such as One in Four, the IFPA and the DRCC in achieving this mandate.

 

 

11 / WEL  4                   WELFARE STRATEGY DOCUMENTS

 

Congress notes

The usefulness of a coherent, streamlined strategy in areas such as mental health, sexual health, finance etc

 

Congress further notes

The lack of coherent, streamlined USI policy in these areas bar mental health.

 

Congress therefore mandates the Welfare officer

To create 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. This work should be done in conjunction with welfare working group and any other appropriate outside organisations.

These strategies should incorporate relevant mandates from the USI Policy Manual. These documents should be brought for preliminary approval to National Council.

Congress further mandates the Welfare Officer

To bring these documents forward to the nearest Congress for ratification.

 

 

11 / WEL  5                   USI MENTAL HEALTH STRATEGY

Congress notes

08/WEL 5 mandating the creation of a USI Mental Health Strategy.

 

Congress applauds

The creation of Student Lives, Minds and Wellbeing – The USI Mental Health Strategy 2010-2013.

 

Congress therefore deletes:

09-WEL 10 – Free Pack

09/ WEL 7 – Headsup

09/WEL 6- Mental Health Campaign

09/WEL 5 – Counselling Services

09/WEL 4 – Mental Health Information

 

Congress Mandates the Welfare Officer

To both follow the USI Mental 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.

 

 

11 / WEL  6                            MORNING AFTER PILL

 

Congress notes

09/ WEL 1 Congress mandates:

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.

 

Congress emphasises

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 therefore welcomes

The recent decision by a leading pharmacy chain to sell the morning after pill over the counter.

 

Congress also welcomes

Moves by the Irish Pharmacy Union to emulate this initiative in 1800 of their member pharmacies.

 

Congress therefore mandates the USI Welfare Officer:

To continue to work with relevant organisations to ensure that the mandate from 09/WEL 1 is fulfilled.

 

The USI Welfare Officer to work to make EC affordable and accessible to all who need it.

 

 

11 / WEL  7                   EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTIVE PILL INFORMATION CAMPAIGN

 

Congress welcomes

The introduction of the Morning After Pill (MAP) over the counter by Boots Pharmacies in the Republic of Ireland from January 12th 2011.

 

Congress notes

That the Morning After Pill does play a role in the decrease of the amount of pregnancies among female students.

 

Congress further notes

That many students are unaware of how the MAP works, when the best time is to take it and the issues involved in taking it.

 

Congress therefore mandates the Welfare Officer

To run an information campaign about the Morning After Pill and to make it an integral part in future S.H.A.G campaigns.

 

 

11 / WEL  8                            STUDENT ACCOMMODATION SURVEY

Congress notes

That students moving away from home for the first time can have enormous difficulty with their accommodation.

 

Congress further notes

The great work done by the USI Welfare Officers and local Welfare Officers on developing a Deposit Retention Scheme proposal for the PRTB.

Congress mandates the USI Welfare Officer:

To create an online nationwide student survey on student accommodation with the goal of finding out specific problems that students face, including cost, quality of accommodation and anti-social behaviour. This information could then be used in conjunction with the Deposit Retention Scheme Proposal and other accommodation campaigns in the future.

 

11 / WEL  9                                      MEN’S HEALTH

 

Congress notes

The good work that the USI Welfare Officer and local Welfare Officers do in promoting positive mental, physical and sexual health amongst all students.

 

Congress mandates the USI Welfare Officer

To form a link with MHFI (Men’s Health Forum Ireland) and other groups associated with promoting better awareness of men’s health issues.

 

Congress further mandates the USI Welfare Officer

To then use these links to provide campaign material, training and advice to welfare officers on how best to improve awareness of these issues to male students.

 

 

11 / WEL 10                           DON’T WALK HOME ALONE CAMPAIGN

 

Congress notes

The success of the “Don’t walk home alone” campaign that has be run on a number of colleges throughout the county but most notable GMIT.

Congress acknowledges

The importance in educating our student to be safe when on nights out and they should take precautions to protect themselves

 

Congress therefore mandates the Welfare Officer and the Area Officers

To bring this campaign to a national level and to investigate if the “cab now, pay later” initiative can be implemented across all local CO’s.

 

 

11 / WEL 11                           ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR CAMPAIGN

Congress notes

That unfortunately bad reputation students sometimes receive as a result of incidents of Anti-Social Behaviour.

Congress recognises

The positive steps made by a number of local CO’s in tackling Anti-Social Behaviour incidents within their community.

Congress further notes

That these initiatives have further helped create positive links with Students’ Unions and the wider local community.

Congress mandates the Deputy President and the Area Officers

To work with local CO’s to establish proactive initiatives to tackle Anti-Social Behaviour.

 

 

11 / WEL 12                           MONEY MANAGEMENT AWARENESS

 

Congress notes

The continuing financial strain that is being placed on families and students at this difficult time.

 

Congress further notes

With these hard times, many students are withdrawing from third level college due to financial difficulties.

 

Congress therefore mandates the Welfare Officer

To run a Money management awareness week and to also publish a financial guide to aid students with their budgeting problems.

 

 

11 / WEL 13                           STUDENT ASSISTANCE FUND

 

Congress notes

The importance of the Student Assistance Fund and the role it plays to support students across the Country.

 

Congress acknowledges

That the Student Assistance Fund may be targeted in Government cutbacks.

 

Congress therefore mandates the President and Deputy President:

To lobby against any cuts to the Student Assistance Fund and to campaign for increased funding for the fund.

 

2010

10 / WEL  2                            STUDENT PREGNANCY

Congress notes

The lack of policy and support in the area of student parenting, both for student mothers and students Fathers.

 

Congress further notes

That while staff who fall pregnant are recognised under equality law, students exist within a grey area of legislation in this sector and subject to discrimination as the college chooses in terms of concessions and special accommodations.

 

Congress applauds

The efforts of institutions such as Mary Immaculate College in the formation of a student parent liaison officer.

 

Congress mandates

The Welfare and Equality Officers to research best practice policies on student parents both within Ireland, the UK and beyond with a view to formulate a template for local COs to negotiate with their institutions.

 

The Welfare and Equality Officers to meet and work with relevant organisations with a view to formulating a policy document for Welfare officers and other relevant CO officers as to how best to support student parents and what supports are needed. Union of Students in Ireland Annual Congress 2010 Comhdhail Bhliaintuil Aontas na Mac Leinn in Eirinn 2010 – 14 – – 14 –

 

The Welfare and Equality Officers to HEI authorities for better provisions and rights for student parents.

 

 

10 / WEL   6                            CERVICAL CANCER

Congress notes

The expense of this vaccine amounts to approximately €550, including VAT and GP fees for non-medical card holders.

 

Congress mandates the Welfare Officer

To lobby the HSE to provide this vaccine in all college and university health centres at an affordable price.

 

 

10 / WEL  7                                      SEXUAL HEALTH

Congress notes with concern

The worrying lack of information and knowledge among Student Health Services and other college supports about issues pertaining to lesbian sexual health.

 

Congress further notes

That oftentimes, women who identify as lesbian, bisexual or queer are unaware of lesbian sexual health issues.

 

Congress mandates

The Welfare Officer to work with the LGBT RO to ensure that the sexual health module at UOS also covers lesbian sexual health issues; so that the welfare officers can be equipped with the knowledge to deal with these issues.

 

10 / WEL  8                            Anti- Social Behaviour

 

Congress recognises

The fact that a minority of students are causing problems, for local residents and for other students as well. These problems need to be tackled seriously.

 

That students‟ unions have a key role in educating future generations of tenants – both in the rules they should abide by, and the rights they have too.

 

Solving issues brought about by some students in local communities is about forming solid, long-lasting partnerships with other stakeholders, such as the local council, the union of students in ireland annual congress 2010 comhdhail bhliaintuil aontas na mac leinn in eirinn 2010 – 16 – – 16 – third level institutions, local residents‟ groups etc. In which the students‟ union is seen as a valued and respected player.

 

Congress mandates

The deputy president/campaigns officer, the welfare officer and the area officers to assist local students‟ unions to tackle issues that arise from anti-social behaviour.

 

Congress also mandates

The forementioned officers run a national information campaign to promote the idea of positive community involvement to the student body.

10 / WEL 11                          NON- ACADEMIC SERVICES

Congress notes

The current lack of quality assurance systems with regards to an Irish National Policy Framework for non-academic students services provided by the third level institution, such as health centres, counselling services etc.

 

Congress further notes

The importance of quality assurance with regard to non academic aspects of student services.

 

Congress recognises

The value of the overall student experience within the higher education system in Ireland.

 

Congress mandates

The President and the Welfare Officer to lobby the Higher Education Authority and the Department of Education for the formation of a non-academic student services policy relating to quality assurance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2009

09 / WEL 1           EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION

 

Congress 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.

 

 

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 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  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     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  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  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 / 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

 

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 to gather student feedback, opinions and ideas on how best to approach this issue and to present a campaign idea to Welfare Working Group.

EQUALITY

 

2011

11 / EQ  1                     LGBT AMBASSADORS

Congress notes

That many second level educational institutions do not have a formal LGBT bullying policy.

 

Congress appreciates

That access to third level education by students identifying themselves as from the LGBT committee is influenced by the experiences of those students at second level.

 

Congress understands

That third level students acting as LGBT ambassadors to their own previous secondary schools will help promote understanding and acceptance of LGBT students in the second level education system.

 

Congress thus mandates the LGBTRO, Deputy President and the Education Officer of USI

To co-ordinate the campaign to promote third level students as LGBT ambassadors in second level schools across the country.

 

 

11 / EQ  2                     LGBT STUDENT SURVEY

 

Congress notes

There is very little statistical information about the experiences of LGBT people in third level education.

 

Congress further notes

The serious lack of statistical information makes helping to improve the college experiences of LGBT students difficult.

 

Congress therefore mandates the LGBT Rights Officer

To conduct a nationwide survey on the student experiences of LGBT students.

 

 

11 / EQ  3                     LGBT SOCIETY MANUAL

 

Congress notes

There is a considerable lack of helpful resources for those trying to start up and run an LGBT society.

 

 

Congress believes

It would greatly aid those wishing to run or establish an LGBT society if there was a comprehensive manual with information and resources for setting up and running society.

 

Congress therefore mandates the LGBT Rights Officer

To produce a manual outlining ways to set up, run and maintain a successful LGBT society which can be used by Student Unions as well as students.

 

Congress further mandates the LGBT Rights Officer

To update the manual annually with any new information and to ensure it is ready for distribution in September when the new college year begins.

 

 

11 / EQ  4                               LGBT PACKS

 

Congress notes

There is a serious lack of LGBT mental health, physical health and sexual health resources aimed directly at students in third level education.

 

Congress believes

That an all round LGBT pack encompassing mental health and sexual health similar to the mental health packs and SHAG packs provided by USI to the general student body could drastically improve integration of LGBT students into the student body and improve awareness of the specific mental, physical and sexual health needs of LGBT students amongst non LGBT students.

 

Congress mandates the LGBT Rights Officer

To develop and produce LGBT packs including information on mental health and sexual health for distribution in all COs.

 

 

11 / EQ 5                      DIRECT STUDENT ENGAGEMENT

 

Congress notes

The effectiveness of the USI LGBT campaign in directly interacting with the USI membership through its links with student societies and USI Pink Training.

 

Congress believes

The USI Equality campaign should follow a similar structure.

 

Congress mandates

The Equality Officer to organise an annual intervarsity event for each of the equality sub sections.

 

Congress further mandates the Equality Officer

To enhance links with existing equality based student societies and to foster the development of further equality related societies in each CO.

 

 

11 / EQ  6            HETEROPHOBIA AWARENESS AT PINK TRAINING

 

Congress re-affirms the belief

That all forms of discrimination are wrong.

 

Congress commends

The sterling work of the LGBT Rights Officer in running campaigns to tackle prejudice against the LGBT community.

 

Congress notes with concern

That heterophobia is unfortunately a real and existing prejudice.

 

Congress suggests

That, like all forms of prejudice, that heterophobia can be removed through proper education and understanding in society.

 

Congress mandates the Equality Officer, in conjunction with the LGBTRO

To structure an anti-heterophobia module, to be presented at Pink Training 2011 and all subsequent Pink Training events thereafter.

 

 

11 / EQ  7                   INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

IMMIGRATION REGULATIONS

Congress notes

The new immigration rules which came into effect on the 1st of January 2011 which change immigration regulations for non-EEA students.

 

Congress further notes

That there are some regressive part of these new regulations including:

The inability of international students who avail of the graduate employment scheme in Ireland to immediately return to post-graduate education in Ireland after completing the scheme.

 

 

The fact that non-EEA students who have dependents in Ireland are unable to use public first and second level schools for their dependents, which causes major problems for students,  particularly if their children are in primary school due to the small number of private first-level schools in Ireland.

 

 

 

Congress mandates the Equality Officer

To work with the Irish Council for International Students to campaign and lobby for changes to be made to the immigration regulations in relation to the graduate employment scheme and the use of public schools for the dependents of international students.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2010

10 / EQ  1                      CIVIL PARTNERSHIP BILL

Congress notes

That the proposed Civil Partnership Bill falls short of offering members of the LGBT community many of the same rights and responsibilities offered by Civil Marriage to the heterosexual community.

 

Congress further notes

That as it currently stands the Bill is unacceptable to the LGBT community.

 

Congress recognises

That the LGBT campaign is an integral part of USI and many LGBT students would like to see a national campaign on this issue.

 

Congress therefore mandates

The Deputy President, the Equality Officer and the LGBT Rights Officer to work together to roll out a national campaign highlighting the issue and to lobby the government on this issue.

 

Congress further mandates

That the Deputy President, Equality Officer and LGBT RO work with other LGBT interest groups on the Civil Marriage campaign, for example LGBT NOISE and Marriage Equality.

 

10 / EQ  2                      MIGRANT STUDENTS

 

Congress notes

That Erasmus, EU and non EEA (European Economic Area) students have access to

dedicated support services in third level colleges.

Congress further notes

That there are clear policy guidelines on issues affecting Erasmus, EU and non EEA students with regard student fees, leave to remain in Ireland and the right to work while studying.

Congress recognises

That the same level of service and policy does not exist for migrants, children of migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and/or children of same, some of whom are now completing primary and secondary education in Ireland.

Congress believes

That these groups are entitled to receive a third level education in Ireland.

Congress mandates

The Equality Officer to investigate what government and HEI policies exist in this area and to collate the responses in a position paper accompanied by suggestions for future actions. Such a position paper should be presented to National Council prior to Congress 2011.

 

 

10 / EQ  3            STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

Congress notes

That in order to communicate with students with disabilities, the USI Equality Campaign is reliant on Disability Support Services and Access Offices in each third level campus. Union of Students in Ireland Annual Congress 2010 Comhdhail Bhliaintuil Aontas na Mac Leinn in Eirinn 2010 – 51 – – 51 –

 

Congress further notes

That this year there have been significant difficulties in reaching out to students with disabilities in third level colleges.

 

Congress also notes

That these difficulties are not specific to USI and are also experienced by other organisations working in this area.

 

Congress mandates

The Equality Officer to make it a priority of 2010/2011 to design a system whereby USI Equality can connect directly with students with disabilities in third level and to seek assistance from members of Officer Board, USI staff and external organisations on how best to achieve this.

 

 

10 / EQ  4            Communicating with Part Time Officers

Conference notes

That part time officers exist in each CO who work in the area of equality

Conference also notes

That these officers are elected at different times in different colleges and so it is difficult to organise a networking event at the beginning of the year

Conference believes

Part time officers stand to gain a lot from being involved with the USI Equality Campaign

Conference mandates

The Equality Officer to meet individually with relevant part time officers once they are elected and outline the positive benefits getting involved in USI Equality can have.

Conference also mandates

The Equality Officer to maintain contact with part time officers by circulating a campaign update email once per fortnight

Conference further mandates

The Equality Officer to compile a contact list for part time officers and to circulate this to Equality Working Group as early as possible in the year

 

 

10 / EQ  5                     Negative Stereotypes in Irish Media

Conference notes

That often minority groups are represented poorly in both national and local print media in Ireland.

Conference regrets

That over the past 12 months there has been an increase in the number of such articles, in particular on the issue of access of third level education

Conference mandates

The Equality Officer and all members of Equality Working to respond and counteract negative images and stereotypes of minority students in the media through letters to the editor of the publication involved.

 

10 / EQ  6                     Students Attitude to Equality

Conference notes

The recent research by the Equality & Rights Alliance into Irish attitudes on equality.

 

Conference also notes

The research is not specific to student attitudes

Conference believes

That the Equality Campaign cannot be effective in campaigning on equality until it establishes what students think about the issues involved

Conference mandates

The Equality Officer to commission a nationwide student survey on attitudes to equality in third level education and to use the results of this survey to inform the equality campaign going forward.

 

 

 

10 / EQ  7                       Online Campaigning

Conference notes

The necessity for USI Equality to campaign through various online media, for example, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging.

Conference also notes

The increasing success of the current online activities of the USI Equality Campaign.

Conference mandates

Equality Working Group to continue utilising online media to further the aims of the campaign.

Conference further mandates

All members of Equality Working Group to write a blog on an issue relevant to the campaign at least once a month

Conference mandates

The Equality Officer to run competitions through online media in order to encourage students to be more interactive with the campaign.

 

 

10 / EQ  8                       Branding USI Equality

Conference notes

The success of the rebranding of the USI Equality Campaign in rejuvenating the image of the campaign among students, COs and NGOs

Conference mandates

The Equality Officer and Equality Working Group to continue to use the new logos and colour coding in all aspects of the Equality Campaign

 

 

10 / EQ  9                     NUS-USI Collaboration

Conference notes

That NUSUSI coordinates an equality campaign for the Northern Area

Conference notes

That the structure of the NUSUSI campaign is similar to the structure of the USI Equality Campaign

Conference believes

That it would be beneficial to both NUSUSI and USI if officers involved in both campaigns communicated regularly and shared ideas and experiences

Conference mandates

The Equality Officer to organise one meeting per semester between the two campaigns to discuss possible collaborations and to provide support, if requested, to the NUSUSI Equality Campaign

Conference further mandates

All members of Equality Working Group to keep in regular contact with counterparts working in the NUSUSI Equality Campaign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2009

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 4                      USI RAINBOW WEEK

Conference notes

That “Rainbow Week” is not thoroughly recognised within all affiliated colleges.

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.

 

 

Gender Equality

2010

10 / GE   1                     Reclaim the Night

 

Conference notes

The success of the ‘reclaim the night marches’ organised in the uk between the london feminist network and the national union of students in the uk (nusuk) to highlight the issue of sexual violence against women.

 

Conference is disappointed

By recent research from the rape crisis network ireland (december 2009) which outlined a poor conviction rate for crimes of rape and sexual violence in ireland, inaccurate stereotypes of rape as well poor treatment of victims by members of an garda siochana.

 

Conference mandates

The equality officer and the gender equality officer to organise an annual ‘reclaim the night march’ for students to raise awareness of sexual violence against women in ireland.

 

Conference further mandates

The equality officer and the gender equality officer to contact the rape crisis network ireland to explore possible collaborations on the issue of sexual violence against women.

 

 

10 / GE  3                      Childcare Facilities

Conference notes

That access to affordable childcare is difficult in Ireland

Conference also notes

That access to flexible and affordable childcare is difficult for students

Conference is aware

That some third level institutions have crèches on or close to campus and that  a number of places in said crèches are reserved for students

Conference is also aware

That childcare/crèche subsidy schemes exist in different colleges

Conference believes

That all third level institutions should provide a childcare facility for students

Conference mandates

The Equality Officer, Gender Equality Office and Mature Student Officer to lobby all relevant authorities to establish childcare facilities on all third level campuses. Such childcare facilities should include both crèche and after school care facilities and should be affordable for students. Furthermore a majority of places in these facilities should be reserved for registered students of the institution.

 

10 / GE  6            Campaigning for Women

 

Conference notes

That usi had a successful women’s rights campaign in the past

 

Conference also notes

That in recent years there has been very little policy on women’s issues

 

Conference believes

That there is a problem with female participation in usi

 

Conferences further believes

That current officers could learn a lot from the experience of past female officers, particularly those who were involved in the women’s rights campaign

 

Conference mandates

The equality officer to convene a roundtable with interested ex officers to discuss how to progress womens involvement in the union.

 

 

International Students

 

2010

10 / IS  4              Finance for International Students

Conference notes

That International Students face hefty fees for studying in Ireland

Conference also notes

That there is a lack of transparency surrounding these fees and how they are costed

Conference believes

That financial stress, caused by such large fees and the expense of living in Ireland, has a negative impact on the student experience for international students

Conference mandates

The Equality Officer & International Students Officer to always lobby for transparent costings of all fees charged to international students and that these fees are advertised well in advance of a student arriving in Ireland. Where possible, officers should lobby for a decrease in the amount charged to international students.

 

LGBT

 

2010

10 / LGBT  2                  Homophobic Bullying

Conference notes

That the results of the “LGBT Lives” survey (2009) show that 12 years old is the most common time for an LGBT person to come out to themselves, with 17 being the age most of them start to come out. This means most LGBT people are in secondary school while beginning their coming out process, or just starting college.

Conference further notes

That over 58% of LGBT people reported homophobic bullying in their schools, and that 80% of LGBT people currently experience verbal abuse due to their LGBT identity in their day to day lives

Conference believes

That LGBT students can be victims of homophobic abuse in college

Conference mandates

The LGBTRO to work alongside the ISSU on a joint anti homophobic bullying campaign, covering both secondary school and college students to raise awareness of this issue

Conference further mandates

The LGBTRO to work with BeLonG To on this campaign, as they have established points of contact for the area of homophobic bullying.

 

 

10 / LGBT  4                  Anti-homophobia Campaign

Conference believes

It should be obvious to all students in USI colleges that homophobia will not be tolerated in any form on campus.

Conference mandates

The LGBT RO to prepare information leaflets or pack for a campus-wide anti-homophobia campaign in all USI campuses on a certain day and to encourage all SUs to get involved.

 

Mature Students

 

2010

10 / MS  2                     Mature Students Officer

Conference notes

The high increase in the number of mature students attending third level education

Conference also notes

That increasing access to lifelong learning and creating diverse student populations is to be welcomed

Conference is aware

That mature students have additional needs and that these are often not represented at local level in colleges

Conference believes that

In order to represent the needs of mature students, each student union should have a part time mature student representative

Conference therefore mandates

The Mature Students Officer to lobby local COs to create part time mature student officer positions and to assist all unions in the development of this position.

 

 

10 / MS  3           Peer Support for Mature Students

Conference notes

The success of peer support networks across Irish Third Level Institutions

Conference also notes

The difficulties faced by mature students returning to education

Conference believes

That other mature students are best placed to understand these issues and support mature students in first year

Conference mandates

The Mature Students Officer to lobby each college to establish a mature student’s peer support network.

 

National Affairs

2011

11 / NA  1                     ABORTION LEGISLATION

Congress notes

The ruling in December 2010 by the European Court of Human Rights which said that the Irish State had violated the rights of one of the plaintiffs in the “A, B & C v. Ireland” case.

 

Congress further notes

That the “Attorney General v. X” case in 1992 highlighted a lack of clarity in the constitution as it gives equality in the right to life of both the mother and the unborn child, and recommended that legislation be introduced in this regard.

 

Congress mandates the Equality Officer

To campaign for, and lobby the Government to legislate for abortion in line with the “Attorney General v. X” case judgement.

 

 

11 / NA  2                     VOTER REGISTRATION CAMPAIGN

Congress notes

The unusual political situation in the year 2010/2011 put USI under a lot of pressure as regards a Voter Registration Campaign in the run-up to a General Election.

 

Congress believes

That a Voter Registration Campaign would be more feasible operationally if it was carried out at the start of the year instead of in the run up to the election.

 

Congress further notes

That to encourage people to vote an organisation must be registered. If CO’s run a Voter Registration Campaign, it must be done through USI, who are registered.

 

Congress mandates USI Officer Board

To run a Voter Registration Campaign every September/October, to provide help to CO’s running Voter Registration Campaigns, to make officers available on the ground to COs, and to approve all CO information etc for any Voter Registration Campaign.

 

11 / NA  3  An Ghaeilge don Ardteistiméireacht

 

Aithníonn an chomhdháil

Go bhfuil an Ghaeilge mar ábhar éigeantach don Ardteistiméireacht faoi láthair

 

Aithníonn an chomhdháil ar lean

Go bhfuil roinnt fadhbanna ann leis an curaclam mar atá sé agus roinnt moltaí ar conas gur féidir linn é a deisiú.

 

Creideann an chomhdháil go láidir

Gur cheart don Ghaeilge fanacht mar croí ábhar éigeantach don Ardteistiméireacht

 

Aithníonn an chomhdháil le himní

Go mbeidh tionchar uafásach ag aon athrú ar staideas na Gaeilge don Ardteistiméireacht ar cúrsaí tríú leibhéil trí Ghaeilge agus todhchaí an teanga.

 

Sainordaíonn an Comhdháil Oifigeach na Gaeilge agus Oifigeach na bhFeachtas

Le feachtas a chur ar bun chun Athchóiriú iomlán a bhaint amach ar curaclam na Gaeilge don Ardteistiméireacht trí í a roinnt i dhá ábhar

Teanga na Gaeilge- ábhar éigeantach le béim ar scríobh agus labhairt na Gaeilge

Saíocht agus Litríocht na Gaeilge- ábhar roghnach le béim ar filíocht, litríocht agus stair na Gaeilge.

 

Irish Language for the Leaving Certificate

 

Congress note

That the Irish Language is currently a compulsory subject for the Leaving Certificate.

 

Congress further notes

That there have been many problems with the Irish curriculum in schools and many suggestions on how to fix the current curriculum

 

Congress strongly believes

That Irish should remain a central & compulsory subject for the Leaving Certificate.

 

Congress notes with concern

That making the Irish language optional at Leaving Certificate level will have a disastrous impact on third level Irish language courses and the future of the language

 

Congress mandates the Irish Language Officer and Campaigns Officer

To campaign for a revamp of the Irish language for the leaving certificate by splitting the subject into two subjects.

 

Irish Language- a compulsory subject with emphasis on speaking and writing the language

Culture and Literature of Irish Language- an optional subject with emphasis on poetry, literature and history of the language

 

 

11 / NA  4                     GAELSCOILEANNA

 

Aithníonn an Chomhdháil

An tábhacht atá ag Gaelscoileanna de todhchaí an teanga agus an fás ollmhór sa méid Gaelscoileanna le 20 bhliain anuas.

 

Aithníonn an chomhdháil le himní

Go bhfuil géarghá le scoileanna nua in áiteanna áirithe agus go bhfuil éileamh ann i gcomhair Gaelscoileanna

 

Aithníonn an chomhdháil ar lean le himní

Go bhfuil tuismitheoirí ina dhiaidh scoileanna a bhunú iad féin gan aitheantas nó airgead on rialtas.

 

Dá bhrí sinn sainordaíonn an chomhdháil seo an Oifigeach Oideachais agus Oifigeach na Gaeilge:

Chun stocaireacht a dhéanamh ar an Aire Oideachais le fáil réidh leis lánchosc atá ann faoi láthair agus le cinnte a dhéanamh go bhfuil an Ghaeilge curtha chun cinn tríd an córas oideachais ar fad

 

 

Congress recognises

The importance of Gaelscoileanna to the development of the Irish language and the dramatic increase in the numbers of Gaelcoileanna in the past 20 years.

 

Congress believes

That every Irish citizen should be given the choice to Irish-medium education.

 

Congress notes with concern

That in certain areas there is a need for new schools urgently and a great demand for Gaelscoileanna.

 

Congress further notes with concern

That parents have had to take matters into to their own hands and set up unrecognised privately funded schools

 

Congress therefore mandates the Education Officer and the Irish Language Officer

To lobby the government and the Minister for Education to abolish the current embargo and to ensure the promotion of the Irish language throughout the education system.

 

 

11 / NA  5                     ROLLING REGISTER

 

Congress notes

That the ‘door to door’ method of maintaining the electoral register currently used in Ireland means there is little public confidence in the current method of voter registration.

 

Congress further notes

That responsibility for compiling the electoral register lies with individual local authorities rather than a central body. While this may seem like a sensible delegation of responsibilities, in reality the opposite is true. It has been shown that the current method of voter registration allows for:

  • Varying degrees of priority afforded to maintaining data;
  • Wide variety of practices among registration authorities;
  • Insufficient field-workers and door-to-door visits to obtain the necessary information.

 

Congress believes

That transferring responsibility for managing the register away from the local authorities to a newly created Electoral Commission operating an individual, rolling register would greatly increase the accuracy of the electoral register. Furthermore, it would make the process of registering students in third level colleges much easier as only one authority would be involved in the registration process.

 

Congress mandates the Deputy President, Education Officer and Area Officers:

To lobby for the creation of an Electoral Commission that would facilitate an individual, rolling register to ensure that the electoral register is up to date and accurate going forward.

 

11/ NA 6                       MINIMUM WAGE

 

Congress notes

That students lucky enough to secure part-time employment to supplement their income while engaged in education often earn the minimum wage.

Congress condemns

The decision of the outgoing Government to cut the minimum wage level to €7.65 per hour.

 

Congress further notes

That this decreased wage will have severe impacts on the delicate balance between academic study and work, and will force many students to work even longer hours to the detriment of their academic performance.

 

Congress therefore mandates Officer Board

To lobby and campaign for the restoration of the minimum wage to its pre-2010 level.

 

11/ NA 7:                 JOBSEEKERS’ ALLOWANCE & WORK PLACEMENT PROGRAMMES

Congress notes

That from January 2011, the Jobseeker’s Allowance maximum payments are as follows:

Age 18 – 19: €100

Age 20 – 21: €100

Age 22 – 24: €144

Age 25 +: €188

 

Congress notes

That the exceptions to reduced payments to under 25s are:

  • Claimants with dependent children.
  • People transferring to Jobseeker’s Allowance immediately after finishing their entitlement to Jobseeker’s Benefit.
  • People transferring from Disability Allowance to Jobseeker’s Allowance.
  • Where an existing Jobseeker’s Allowance claimant is assessed at the higher rate of allowance gets work but loses that job and is back on Jobseeker’s Allowance within 12 months.
  • People under 25 participating in a course of education, training or Community Employment. However, when the course ends you will return to an age related JA payment, if you were getting one before you started the course.
  • You were at least 20 years of age on 30 December 2009 and became unemployed on or before 30 December 2009.

You were 18 or 19 on 30 December 2009 and you became unemployed on or before 29 April 2009.

You are 22 to 24 and taking part in the Work Placement Programme run by FÁS.

 

 

 

Congress further notes

The recommendations in the USI policy document “Re-Igniting the Smart Economy” include the provision of 20,000 graduate work placement places, and that the 2011 Budget included provisions for the creation of 15,000 places.

 

Congress believes

That reducing social welfare payments purely on the basis of age is discriminatory.

That the limiting of increased payments for those taking part in the FÁS Work Placement Programme to the ages of 22-24 is discriminatory and should be extended to all under 25s as long as reduced payments for under 25s persists.

 

Congress mandates

The President, Deputy President and Equality Officer to campaign for the abolishment of reduced payments for those on the Jobseeker’s Allowance based entirely on the recipients’ age.

 

And until such time as reduced payments for those on the Jobseeker’s Allowance based entirely on the recipients’ age are abolished, to campaign for the extension of increased payments to those on the FÁS Work Placement Programme to be extended to all those below 25, and to include those who have applied for the FÁS Work Placement Programme.  They should also lobby and campaign for those participating in any national work placement programmes outside of FÁS to similarly be eligible for increased payments.

2009

09 / NA   4                    Elections Campaign

 

Congress applauds

The current usi policy on increasing the student vote.

 

Congress 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.

 

 

UNION ORGANISATION

 

2011

11 / UO  1                     MONEY MANAGEMENT TRAINING

Congress notes

That student poverty and student financial difficulty has been more prevalent in the last 2 years than in previous years.

 

Congress further notes

The complexity of financial difficulties can make it difficult for local welfare officers to provide accurate, useful information without proper training.

 

Congress mandates the Welfare Officer

To provide money management training to the welfare officers at UOS or at an alternative date before the beginning of the Academic term.

 

 

11 / UO  2  CONSTITUENT ORGANISATION CONSULTATION

Congress notes

The federal composition of USI.

 

Congress further notes

That each constituent organisation is independent and autonomous.

 

Congress therefore mandates Officer Board

To liaise and seek permission of individual Cos when asked publicly about local institutional issues.

 

 

11 / UO  3               LOBBY OF THE OIREACHTAS/PRE BUDGET SUBMISSION

Congress notes

That USI puts forward Lobby of the Oireachtas and Pre-Budget Submission documents every year.

 

Congress further notes

The importance of these two documents to the national union and national campaign.

Congress mandates the President

To establish a taskforce at the first national council to advise the President on issues for inclusion for these documents.

11 / UO  4                     FINANCE GUIDE

 

Congress notes

The increase in financial difficulties among students which are likely to be faced by Welfare Officers over the coming years due to the economic downturn and recent austerity Budgets.

 

Congress further notes

The challenges and complications facing CO’s in dealing with the many issues surrounding student finance.

 

Congress therefore mandates the Education and Welfare Officer

To produce a finance guide for local CO’s which details the grants system, assistance funding, welfare entitlements and other relevant information.

 

 

11 / UO  5           MEMBERSHIP WORKING GROUP

Congress notes

That with the election of a new Government USI have 3 years to the next Local Elections and possibly 5 years to the next General Election, and thus a longer period before voter pressure can force pro-student concessions from political parties seeking election.

 

Congress believes

That this period should be used for reviewing how USI engage and interact with its membership, with the view to creating a strong unified and informed student body that identifies itself with their national union as much as with their local CO.

 

Congress mandates USI Officer Board

To create a Membership Working Group reporting to National Council, which would be allowed to co-opt people outside of the USI membership that may be of strategic importance in carrying out its work.

 

 

11 / UO  6                     TRAINING FOR PROTEST STEWARDS

 

Congress notes

That USI have organised two large student protests over the past three years.

 

Congress further notes

That 42,000 students marched on the Education not Emigration March, which exceeded expected numbers by almost 20,000.

 

 

Congress notes with concern

That the students chosen as stewards by some colleges lacked the training and cohesion to deal with those kind of numbers.

Congress therefore Mandates Officer Board

USI to consult with an events management company to draft a stewarding policy suitable for all major protests and events, to be presented to National Council before August 2011.

 

Congress Further mandates Officer Board

To ensure that this policy includes recommendations with regard to the dissemination of this training to all stewards.

 

 

11 / UO  7                     STEERING MEMBERS

 

Congress notes

That Steering committee are very dedicated to the organisation and to its successful running. In order to ensure that there are active steering members there needs to be a proactive approach from Officer Board to encourage and foster networks with past expertise from the organisation so that institutional memory is still accessible to the organisation.

 

Congress mandates the deputy president

To actively pursue new steering members in times of steering election and that they actively promote a network with ex USI officers.

 

 

11 / UO  8                     FRESHERS’ PACKS

 

Congress notes

That Students’ Unions across the country distribute packs of sample products under the name “Freshers’ Packs” to their incoming members as a gesture of welcome and as a positive first impression of the benefits of membership of their local Union.

 

Congress notes with concern

The quality of product distributed by suppliers in recent years has been falling steadily, and the contents of many of the packs have included unsuitable material for students’ unions.

 

 

Congress further notes

The ongoing challenge of USI in articulating its purpose and existence to grass-roots members before major national campaigns.

 

Congress therefore mandates the President and Officerboard

To investigate the possibility of sourcing the materials, supplying and distributing “Freshers’ Packs” to COs by September 2011 for consideration at the first National Council of the 2011 / 2012 academic year.

 

 

11 / UO  9                     PAYMENT OF AFFILIATION FEES

Congress notes

That USI has numerous affiliated colleges.

 

Congress further notes

That there are a minority of colleges who choose not to pay the USI affiliation fee.

 

Congress mandates Officer Board

To investigate the plausibility of sanctions, including but not exclusive to, suspension or expulsion of those colleges from USI.

 

2010

10 / UO 10                    AREA OFFICER ROLE

Congress recognises

The difficulty for both COs and Area Officers in defining the role of the Area Officer and utilizing it to its full potential.

 

Congress believes

That in order for the role to be successful, the onus should be on both the Officer themselves and on COs. However, this is difficult as there are no definite guidelines as to what an Area Officer‟s role is.

 

The following should be the minimum expected from an Area Officer:

 

 A minimum of one visit to each CO in between National Councils.

 

 A minimum of one week‟s notice to COs about this visit (unless CO requests Area Officer in a shorter period of time).

 

Union of Students in Ireland Annual Congress 2010 Comhdhail Bhliaintuil Aontas na Mac Leinn in Eirinn 2010 – 30 – – 30 –

 

 To organise a number of bonding events throughout the year. This should be approved by all COs and ensure that all are available to attend. And if all COs cannot attend, that those not available are happy the event takes place without them.

 

 To assist COs whenever requested in the run up to or during campaigns.

 

 To organise a number of regional councils during the year – the calendar of these should be agreed on at the first Regional Council of the year.

 

 That when requested, the Area Officer will attend Class Councils to update class reps on what USI has been doing and what the future plans of the USI are. COs are asked to invite the Area Officers to at least two Class Councils in the year.

 

 To speak to the media on behalf of the region and act as the main spokesperson on issues effecting students of their relevant area.

 

 To provide a detailed weekly report on their activities, both to COs and the President and Deputy President.

 

 To assist the Deputy President in organizing any protests or rallies, which COs have requested.

 

 To keep Officers based in HQ informed of the issues and activities happening in their area.

 

 To give an adequate cross over consisting of any further advice gained from holding office to their successor outlining issues which may be ongoing in certain COs, the main issues they face as an officer that year and how best to interact with their COs.

 

Congress Therefore Mandates

The Area Officer to outline their role to their COs at the first regional council of the year.

 

 

10 / UO 19                    MANIFESTO UPDATES

Congress notes

Important issues highlighted in the manifestos of elected members of officer board can be neglected as the year progresses.

 

Congress also notes

The importance USI members place on the strength of the leadership of USI officer board and much of their confidence in an individual stems from the issues they pledge to attack/defend/promote in their manifestos.

 

Congress Mandates

Each member of officer board to outline the progress they have made on their manifesto issues at national council twice annually.

 

 

10 / UO 21                    CAMPAIGN HISTORY

Congress notes

USI has a long and proud tradition when it comes to running effective campaigns which gather media attention and brings our issues to national attention.

 

Congress also notes

We rely on anecdotal memory of what photo stunts/campaign strategies have been used in the past. Often the issues are the same for example, fees, equal rights etc.

 

 

Congress mandates

The Deputy President to compile a database of previous campaigns under relevant headings. By doing this, we are building on our knowledge of what USI has achieved to date. Also, we can learn from what media campaigns have worked in the past and why.

 

 

 

10 / UO 26                    UNION ORGANISATION

Congress notes

That it is essential that each constituent organisation of USI can hold USI Officer Board to account.

 

Congress further notes

That the current system of accountability is not adequate in ensuring that each member of Officer Board is meeting their mandates.

 

Congress believes

That in the same way that Higher Education Institutes should offer a quality assurance scheme to its students; USI should provide its own quality assurance scheme as part of this effort for greater accountability.

 

Congress mandates

Officer Board to establish a system of accountability, as detailed below, as part of an effort to improve accountability and quality assurance across the organisation.

Once elected, each member of Officer Board should present the first sitting of National Council with a plan of work for the year ahead, complete with key milestones and targets and displayed on a Gantt Chart, as is the industry standard for project management. This plan of work should reflect the policies laid down in the USI Policy Manual together with the tasks implied in the officer‟s job description and these should be prioritised accordingly.

 

The National Council have the option to accept the proposed plan of work , or reject it in which case the officer must return to the next National Council with a new proposal.

 

Progress on each item against the original plan of work must then be made known to all Constituent Organisations by means of a newsletter from each member of Officer Board on a fortnightly basis.

 

Failure to meet these targets, within 20 percent of the overall time allocation of each item, should then result in the Officer being held to account at the next sitting of National Council, The Officer will be fully entitled to due process in line with Article 5.8 of the USI Constitution and the law of the land.

 

Article 5.8 USI Constitution

 

The right of the students, through their Constituent Organisation, to call to account and instruct those charge with office, within the Union, to discipline and ultimately dismiss those who fail to carry out their responsibilities.

 

2009

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 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.

 

11 / EM  3           NORTHERN IRELAND FEES CAMPAIGN

 

Congress notes

The fight against fees that is being led by NUS-USI and the COs in Northern Ireland

 

Congress further notes

The statement by the minister responsible for higher education that he would freeze the fees level if sufficient funding is released from the NI executive

 

Congress therefore mandates the USI president

To work alongside the NAO/NUS-USI president to bring about as much support as possible for the release of this funding to Higher Education.

 

International Affairs

2011

11 / EM  1                   JAPANESE DISASTER

 

Congress notes

The disaster that struck Japan recently

 

Congress regrets

The pain and suffering that has been inflicted upon the people of Japan

 

Congress mandates officerboard

To support any measures by the government to provide relief to these people.

 

 

11 / EM  2                             TRAGEDY IN JAPAN

Congress notes

The recent tragedy in Japan

 

Congress is saddened

By the loss of life and devastation

Congress mandates

The area officers to organise a charity event in each region, with the benefits to be donated to victims of the tragedy

 

 

UNCATEGORISED EMERGENCY MOTIONS

 

2010

10 / EM  1    THE NATIONAL MATHEMATICS SYMPOSIUM

Congress notes

The appalling state of the teaching of maths in the Republic of Ireland, as noted in a report and at the National Mathematics Symposium on the 16th of March 2010, and that over half of maths teachers in the Republic of Ireland only have one year of third level maths.

 

Congress believes

That without proper focus on a vital skill such as maths graduates will be unable to compete internationally and domestically for jobs and opportunities.

Congress therefore mandates

The Education Officer to lobby the new Minister of Education and Skills to ensure that adequate resources are put into the teaching of maths at second and third level.

 

 

10 / EM  2           DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND SKILLS

Congress notes

The recent reshuffle of Government ministers and the reorganisation of the Departments of state.

 

Congress notes with alarm and concern

The breaking up of the Department of Education and Science resulting in the move of responsibility for research and educational innovation to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation

Congress therefore mandates

The President to release a statement opposing this change and asking that it be reversed.

 

 

10 / EM  3                    NEW FUNDING MODEL

Congress notes

That three of the primary source of revenue for 3rd level institutes in the Republic of Ireland are: undergraduate numbers, research funding and international students.

Congress further notes

That none of these sources bear a direct relation to the quality of teaching and learning at undergraduate or post-graduate level.

Congress notes with alarm

That because of this situation institutions are actually encouraged to treat taught students as revenue generators to subsidise research.

Congress also notes

This situation is resulting in a decline in the quality of teaching and learning in supports and facilities for taught students.

Congress also further notes

That this competition for funding will worsen significantly given the recent division of funding responsibilities in the cabinet reshuffle.

Congress therefore mandates

The Education Officer to lobby to bring in a new funding model which will be cognisant of the quality of teaching and learning as a factor in awarding funds to third level institutions.

 

 

10 / EM  4                     STUDENT HOUSING

Congress notes

The motion passed at the 2010 Sinn Fein Ard Fheis which calls for compulsory university regulated accommodation for first year students living away from home.

Congress further notes

That the complete text of Sinn Féin Ard Fheis motion 149 (Education) reads:

This Ard Fheis:

Recognises the contribution of universities to the educational and academic life of the country.

Acknowledges the negative experiences of communities such as the Holyland in South Belfast.

is mindful of the potential for communities in North Belfast to suffer the same erosion with the relocation of the University of Ulster.

 

The Ard Fheis therefore adopts a framework policy for the protection of residential communities which neighbour universities, which contains the following components:

  • Provision of sufficient university accommodation to meet demand, with compulsory university regulated accommodation for first year students living away from home.

Compulsory landlord registration.

Tighter control and regulation of houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs).

 

Conference recognises:

That as Sinn Féin are members of the government in the North and have the potential to be part of a future coalition in the south that this posses an immediate threat to students across the island of Ireland.

 

Congress Mandates:

The USI President and Officerboard to actively oppose this policy by demonstrating that it is unfair, unworkable and unreasonably restricts a young person freedom of choice.

 

Congress further Mandates:

The USI President and Officerboard to lobby Sinn Féin elected representatives, both North and South, to secure a reversal this policy.