Instructions for this process
  • Below you will find the list and full text of all the policy due to expire at USI Congress 2017.
  • Below that you will find the priority ballot form, which should be filled in by the President of your students’ union.  Only one form will be accepted per member organisation.
  • To use the form you should fill in all the requested details and click the box beside the name of the ten policies you would like to prioritise for debate and renewal into the policy file for another three years.
  • Then click ‘register’ and the results will be sent to USI.  An email receipt will then issue to you.
  • Policies due to expire which are not prioritised will not be debated at Congress, and will fall.

 

Policies Due to Expire

ACADEMIC AFFAIRS & QUALITY ASSURANCE

 

14 AAQA 1   USI/NERI THIRD-LEVEL FUNDING POLICY

Congress notes:

Congress policy 11/ ED 11 mandating Officer Board to compile a single comprehensive and

researched document on the public-funding model proposed through various USI policies.

Congress applauds:

The securing of research support from the Nevin Economic Research Institute on areas of shared concern, including initially the development of a public-funding policy for third-level on behalf of USI, as part of the SIPTU-USI Agreement.

Congress believes:

This provides USI with credible, well-researched and solutions-based policy for which to advance the argument in favour of our ideological position on third-level funding.

Congress approves:

The third-level funding policy paper developed by NERI as USI policy.

Congress mandates:

USI Officer Board to campaign and lobby extensively for the adoption of this policy as the roadmap for the future funding of the Irish Higher Education system, through every possible political, media and policy platform.

 

14 AAQA 2   ALTERNATIVE ADMISSIONS

Congress regrets:

The almost exclusive focus of the current third-level admissions route on prior academic attainment.

Congress believes:

That taking into consideration contextual data can ensure that an individual’s true potential for performance in higher education is considered.

Congress also believes:

That such consideration would broaden the socio-economic demographic of the third-level student body; the current admissions system disproportionately advantages applicants from fee-paying secondary schools.

Congress notes with approval:

That an Irish Universities Association (IUA) alternative admissions route is being piloted in Trinity College Dublin. The alternative route shall offer 7530 students in total a place in a competitive Level 8 degree programme in September 2014 on the basis of Leaving Certificate results, performance relative to classmates, and a personal statement.

Congress mandates:

That the USI shall support initiatives to create an alternative common admissions route for all publicly-funded third-level institutions where contextual data, including but not limited to socio-

economic background, is considered in addition to prior academic attainment.

Congress also mandates:

The President to lobby for state investment in retention activities to prevent disproportionate drop out levels of those from non-traditional backgrounds.

Congress further mandates:

The President and the VP Academic Affairs & Quality Assurance to lobby for improved information, advice and guidance and careers information at all levels of education.

 

14 AAQA 3   CONSULTATION ON THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE STUDENT CONTRIBUTION CHARGE

Congress notes:

That in November 2011 USI agreed with the Higher Education Authority that HEIs were obliged towards ‘meaningful consultation’ with students on the expenditure of the student contribution charge.

Congress regrets:

That meaningful consultation does not occur in many institutions; most HEIs consult ineffectively and insincerely in forums where students have legally-mandated representation but are not the only representatives present.

Congress therefore mandates:

The President to work with the HEA to define best practice for ‘meaningful consultation’ in the context of the distribution of the student contribution charge, and to lobby the HEA to ensure the application of this established best practice.

 

14 AAQA 5   ACADEMIC TEACHING STAFF ANNUAL LEAVE

Congress recognises:

The current academic teaching staff annual leave agreement has significant repercussions for the examination process.

Congress further recognises:

This agreement has led, in several institutions, Christmas examinations being scheduled for after the festive period and similarly delays the examination results and appeals process.

 

Congress believes:

This delay affects the academic quality of submitted coursework with students having to divide time between their studies and traveling home to their respective families during this time.

Congress further believes:

The adjustment of bringing forward the start of the academic calendar by one week will alleviate the pressures on the examination correction period and the processing of appeals.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Vice President for Academic Affairs & Quality Assurance and the President to negotiate with the relevant bodies to adjust the academic teaching staffs working calendar by March 2015.

 

14 AAQA 6   THE ROLE OF THE STUDENT IN THE GOVERNANCE OF IRISH HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTES

Congress notes:

That a review of how Third Level places of study are governed is imminent.

Congress notes with concern:

Widespread evidence of Irish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) becoming increasingly undemocratic in their approaches to decision making, and the negative and potentially destructive impact that this could have on the student democracy and the voice of the student overall.

Congress affirms:

That students are the key stakeholder in any college’s community and that this should be reflected in governance structures.

Congress mandates:

The President to arrange for a USI white paper on Irish HEIs as Democratic Institutions for presentation at the June National Council, in order to form part of a lobby of relevant bodies and policies.

Congress also mandates:

That the Vice President for Campaigns and all Regional VPs assist in dissemination of this information to the grassroots as part of the campaign.

 

14 AAQA 7   STUDENT REPRESENTATIVES QUALITY ASSURANCE POOL

Congress commends:

The work completed to date on mandate 12/AA 2 which calls for the establishment of an agency for student training in Quality Assurance.

Congress recognises:

The importance of student participation in Quality Assurance review procedures including modular, programmatic, departmental and institutional reviews.

Congress notes with concern:

The many reviews which go ahead without meaningful student participation as many review organisers experience difficulty finding students to sit on reviews and the lack of consistency in training or briefing students.

Congress therefore mandates:

The Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance to establish a pool of students who will be notified when reviews are seeking students. The Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance will be responsible for updating the pool membership on an annual basis. The Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance will arrange training or briefing events for the Quality Assurance Pool members.

 

14 AAQA 8   USI STUDENT FINANCE REPORT

Congress recognises:

The financial hardship many students continue to face and the affect financial concerns have on students’ wellbeing and academic performance.

Congress commends:

The work completed with Amárach Research to produce the USI Student Finance report.

Congress mandates Officerboard:

To facilitate a surveying of students at least every second academic year to gather data on student finances and related topics.

 

14 AAQA 9      USI PARTICIPATION IN ESU

Congress recognises:

That many policies and initiatives developed and agreed at European Union and European Higher Education Area level effect the Irish Higher Education system and our students.

Congress believes:

As a member of the European Students’ Union USI has an important role in the shaping of international policies and has the opportunity to inform national and local policies with international best practice.

Congress mandates:

The Officer Board members who attend each bi-annual ESU Board meeting to present a report

to the following meeting of National Council including explanations of the policies proposed and voted on by USI.

Congress also mandates:

The Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance to co-ordinate a delegation, selected from National Council participants, to attend each bi-annual European Student Convention. The Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance is also tasked to investigate funding opportunities to cover the associated costs.

Congress notes:

That legislation creating the Technological Universities has been enacted and that the development of the Dublin TU is now moving ahead quickly.

Congress further notes:

The agreement in principle from the three ITSUs in question to work together by way of a steering group, chaired by the USI President.

Congress affirms:

That student consultation in this development must be thorough and meaningful, with a view to students being seen as the key stakeholders at the table.

Congress mandates:

The USI President to continue to assist in ensuring that this steering group is recognised at HEA and DoE’s level as the collective representative voice of the three ITSUs.

 

14 AAQA 10 THE QUALITY OF TEACHING IN HIGHER EDUCATION

Congress recognises:

The lack of transparency regarding the measurement of the quality of teaching by academics in third level.

Congress acknowledges:

That the proposed legal amendment which will allow The Teaching Council to sanction underperforming teachers at second level, thus creating an environment of quality learning.

Congress believes:

That the third level sector needs to adopt a similar approach to ensure that students receive the best quality of education.

Congress therefore mandates:

That the VP for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance and The President work alongside the HEA, QQI and/or all other relevant stakeholders to establish and utilise a watchdog which will monitor the quality of teaching in higher education.

14 AAQA 12 FEES FOR STUDENT APPRENTICES

Congress notes:

The publication of the Review of Apprenticeship Training in Ireland, and the consistent focus on the importance of work-based learning and apprenticeships as part of the dialogue around the Youth Guarantee.

Congress condemns:

The decision taken in Budget 2014 to impose a new pro-rata Student Contribution fee burden on student apprentices.

Congress welcomes:

The collaboration between the USI and the TEEU in launching the ‘Axe The Tax on Training’ campaign this year.

Congress mandates:

The President, Vice-President for Campaigns and Vice-President for Academic Affairs & Quality Assurance to lobby to overturn this decision in Budget 2015 and reinstate the State contribution to this fee, in conjunction with the TEEU.

 

14 AAQA 13 STUDENT AGENDA DEVELOPMENT OF THE DTU

 Congress notes:

That legislation creating the Technological Universities has been enacted and that the development of the Dublin TU is now moving ahead quickly.

Congress further notes:

The agreement in principle from the three ITSUs in question to work together by way of a steering group, chaired by the USI President.

Congress affirms:

That student consultation in this development must be thorough and meaningful, with a view to students being seen as the key stakeholders at the table.

Congress mandates:

The USI President to continue to assist in ensuring that this steering group is recognised at HEA and DoES level as the collective representative voice of the three ITSUs.

 

14 AAQA 14 SUSI SUPPORT FOR YOUNGER INDEPENDENT STUDENTS

Congress applauds:

USI’s work in dealing with the SUSI system, and particularly the vast improvement on grant payments to students this year.

Congress notes:

The large category of students who are neglected by the current SUSI application process who are not dependent on their parents between the ages of 18-23.

Congress acknowledges:

Students who are legal adults (18 + years) and support themselves through college, cannot be assessed as independent adults, unless they are mature students or have proof of estrangement.

The great difficulty many students face in claiming estrangement through the current system.

Congress notes with concern:

Students are required to inform SUSI of change in circumstances, this does not allow for a transition to financially independent living.

Students that partake in work throughout college most often do so because they would otherwise be unable to remain in college, through current systems the sum of the students earnings is added to the cumulative family income and thus further hinders the students potential to receive financial aim via the SUSI grant system regardless of whether or not they are actually receiving financial assistance from their parents.

Congress Mandates:

The VP AAQA and Officer Board to lobby and campaign for the restructuring of the SUSI grant application process to include a category for students who support themselves financially.

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WELFARE

 

14 WEL 1      UPDATE USI ALCOHOL POLICY

Congress notes:

The motion passed, without objection, at USI National Council in November 2013 which ceased all workings with Drinkaware.ie and MEAS.

Congress believes:

USI should only work with independent experts on alcohol awareness and should be proactive on this issue.

Congress acknowledges:

USI Alcohol Policy 2012-2015

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to work with various bodies including Alcohol Action Ireland and Alcohol Forum to update the USI Alcohol Policy.

Congress also mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to include proposed actions on pricing, availability and marketing, training and support for local Students’ Unions and proposed actions on a national alcohol awareness campaign. This must be completed before November 2014.

 

14 WEL 2      SMOKING CESSATION

Congress notes:

That smoking levels in Ireland, although decreasing, remain at around 23% for young adults and 7,000 people die from smoking related disease every year.

Congress further notes:

The current trend in some public institutes to ban smoking on their premise. Whilst this may help deter some smokers, current research shows that many smokers report they would rather quit smoking completely.

Congress affirms:

That it is best practice to provide evidence-based and approved methods of smoking cessation.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to work with all relevant bodies in the promotion of smoking cessation to students across both Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Vice President should present plans of this campaign by November 2014.

 

14 WEL 3      CASEWORK TRAINING

Congress notes:

The high levels of casework Students’ Union officers deal with on a yearly basis.

Congress further notes:

The need for training and support throughout the year when handling large number of individual cases.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare, in consultation with other members of Officer Board, to organise intensive casework training for Students’ Union officers each year. This training must include; referral, role plays, data protection and managing casework records. This training must be completed before September each year.

 

14 WEL 4      APPLIED SUICIDE INTERVENTION SKILLS TRAINING (ASIST) FOR STUDENTS’ UNION OFFICERS

Congress notes:

According to the CSO figures, there were 507 suicides registered in 2012 or 11 per 100,000 of the population.

Congress believes:

Everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention and that Students’ Unions need to be equipped with the skills to intervene in a possible suicide if it arises. The more people who feel confident and willing to explore possible signs of suicide risk and provide support and help, the more lives could be saved.

Congress acknowledges:

ASIST, the two-day interactive workshop in suicide first-aid that is highly beneficial. It encourages honest, open and direct talk about suicide as part of preparing people to provide suicide first aid.

Congress acknowledges:

That specific ASIST for Students’ Union officers was delivered for the first time in December 2013.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to organise Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) each year for Students’ Union Officers. This must be completed by September each year.

 

 

14 WEL 5      USI MENTAL HEALTH STRATEGY

Congress notes:

13 / WEL 13 MENTAL HEALTH STRATEGY

Congress further notes:

The creation of ‘Student Lives, Minds and Wellbeing’ in 2010.

Congress reaffirms:

The importance of having a Mental Health Strategy within USI to guide the VP for Welfare on all work relating to mental health. Congress therefore adopts the proposed USI Mental Health Strategy 2014-2017

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to implement 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.

 

14 WEL 6      AVAILABILITY OF COUNSELLORS IN THIRD LEVEL EDUCATION

Congress notes:

A study commissioned by the Institute of Guidance Counsellors that found cutbacks have significantly reduced the time available for one-to-one student counselling in schools.

Congress notes with concern:

Reports from Welfare Officers, that waiting lists for an appointment with Counselling services are at least two weeks with some students waiting up to 6 weeks in extreme cases and also the increasing numbers of students reporting mental health issues.

Congress further notes:

That there is an embargo on hiring of more public sector staff and that many Institutes may not be able to afford to hire more counselling staff either.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to lobby the relevant bodies including the Minister for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People to lift the embargo on the hiring of counselling staff in Higher Education Institutes and for increased funding to be given specifically for the provision of adequate Counselling services to all Third Level Students either through the direct employment of more Counsellors or in purchasing external counselling session hours.

 

14 WEL 7      STUDENT ASSISTANCE FUND

Congress notes:

The importance of the Student Assistance Fund (SAF) and the role it plays to support students in hardship across the country. 83

Congress notes with concern:

How quickly the SAF has run out in many Higher Education Institutions around the country showing the increased strain on students’ financial situation.

Congress affirms:

That with the current plight of student finances across the country, the current allocation of funds to student hardship is not fit for purpose.

Congress mandates:

That the President and the Vice President Welfare to campaign for increased funding for the SAF scheme, and to update National Council in August 2014.

 

14 WEL 8      USI MOTION: BEREAVEMENT SUPPORT POLICY

Congress notes:

As a result of the autonomous nature of policy making each HEI will have a different approach with how to deal with bereavement.

Congress therefore observes:

The creation of bereavement policies within each HEI.

Congress welcomes:

The structure that they provide on how each institute handles the death of a student or the death of a student’s guardian/friend.

Congress notes:

That the Students’ Union is often a source of comfort, familiarity and support to students who have suffered a bereavement.

Congress believes:

It would be beneficial for all MOs to have a uniformed bereavement policy to assist the Students’ Union with a bereavement of a student or a student’s next-of-kin.

Congress therefore mandates:

The VP for Welfare to find out the best practice of MOs regarding their individual bereavement policies and come up with a uniformed policy for MOs to use in the case of a bereavement. This mandate should be fulfilled by September 2014.

 

14 WEL 9      STUDENTS IN REMOTE AREAS

Congress observes:

That many colleges have courses in which students can be based in remote areas for much of the duration of their course.

Congress believes:

That students in rural areas can feel a sense of isolation and issues such as mental health, alcohol abuse and road safety can be prevalent among students in these areas.

Congress further believes:

That it can be difficult for MO’s to reach these campuses to be of support to these students and many of the campuses where these students may be based are far from central student support services and local support services.

Congress applauds:

That some organisations have made efforts to tackle the above issues in rural communities i.e. Headstrong have set up Jigsaw Centres in communities in many parts of Ireland.

Congress believes:

That there should be more focus put on supporting our students in remote areas and communities

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare and Regional Vice Presidents to support MO’s who are faced with this issue and to work with MO’s on developing a support system or campaign in order to reach out to these students.

 

14 WEL 10    WATER SAFETY

Congress observes:

That many students and young people are not aware of water safety and the harms of swimming or activity, in and around unsupervised open waters.

Congress notes with regret:

The total number of drowning’s in 2012 were 147(Accidental 65, Suicide 4, Undetermined 33). There were many more in 2013 due to the hot weather during the summer months.

 

Congress applauds:

The work of Irish Water Safety in promoting water safety and local Civil Defense groups in the emergency response service they provide.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to run a water safety mini- campaign on water safety in promoting water safety and awareness.

 

14 WEL 11    MORNING AFTER PILL

Congress notes:

The cost of the Morning After Pill is currently unregulated here in Ireland, and prices vary hugely throughout counties, cities, towns and pharmacy chains in Ireland.

Congress further notes:

Getting the morning After Pill can set you back anywhere from €10 to €45 or even higher.

Congress believes:

That a standard, maximum price should be set for the Morning After Pill, so that women are aware of how much the drug will cost them irrespective of where they live.

Congress therefore mandates:

The VP Welfare to engage with other groups who are campaigning for maximum pricing for emergency contraception, including the Real Productive Health campaign, with the aim of setting a national maximum price for emergency contraception.

 

14 WEL 14    CONTINUITY OF THE HEAR ACCESS PROGRAMME

Congress notes:

The continued excellent work of the Access Service within third level higher education. Through the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR), the Access Service at colleges’ discretion, supplies an “access grant” to students, and also allows students to apply for an access Students Assistance Fund (SAF). While the Access Scheme is allocated funding from the SAF, Access students can chose to apply for the Access Scheme SAF finance support or for the general SAF finance support (this finance support is usually larger).

Congress further notes:

The lack of structure, continuity and shared information amongst colleges and institutes nationally in relation to their access schemes, and particularly their distributions and allocating of access SAF funds.

 

Congress further notes:

The lack of dialogue within USI in relation to the Higher Education Access Route and information available to elected Students’ Union representatives in relation to the Higher Education Access Route and access schemes.

Congress mandates:

That the USI Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance, along with the USI Vice President for Welfare, to investigate the Access Scheme on a national level and to prepare a report for National Council in December 2014.

Congress further mandates:

The USI President to ensure that a workshop in relation to the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) takes place annually at Students’ Union Training.

 

14 WEL 16    STUDENT SUICIDE

Congress notes with regret:

The continual loss of student’s lives to suicide.

Congress notes:

The importance of local officers in the support structure for students who have experienced bereavement and who are contemplating taking their own life by suicide.

Congress further notes:

The importance of comprehensive training in bereavement support for local officers.

Congress mandates:

The VP for welfare to ensure that Safetalk training are offered to all Welfare Officers and any other officer who wish to avail of such training by September before students return to college.

 

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

 

14 EQ 1         WORKING WITH MATURE STUDENTS

Congress notes:

The direct benefit for mature students attending The Mature Student Convention.

Congress further notes:

That the convention being held at a national or regional level is often inaccessible for mature students.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship, the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance and the Vice President for Welfare to work on a joint online campaign aimed at providing specific information and skills training for mature students.

Congress further notes:

The benefits of mature students networking at a regional and national level.

Congress further mandates:

The Vice President for Equality to create an online forum for mature students.

 

14 EQ 2         WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP

Congress believes:

That women are still significantly under-represented in Student Union politics, as well as politics nationally.

Only 20% of Presidents are women in USI member colleges are women.

Only 33% of UK Students Union Presidents are women.

In the Dáil Éireann the representation of women in even worse. Only 15% of TDs are women. In local councils across Ireland the representation of women is below 20%.

In Northern Ireland, only 19% of MLAs in Stormont are women

Ireland ranks 23rd out of 27 EU countries for their percentage of women in parliament.

Congress also believes:

Despite forming a majority of students in higher and further education, women are under-represented in powerful positions in colleges and students’ union.

Women’s representation in colleges and students’ unions is vital to women’s equality and to overcoming the inequality and discrimination that women face.

Congress mandates:

The USI President and the VP Equality and Citizenship, to run a national campaign supporting and empower women in leadership and create a support network in order to encourage more women candidates to run for election.

The USI President and the VP Equality and Citizenship to campaign on increasing the number of women who run for all sabbatical positions, all student councillors and voluntary roles within students unions.

The VP Equality and Citizenship to make links with the NUS-USI and the NUS Women’s Campaign and work together to encourage women in leadership.

 

14 EQ 3         MARRIAGE EQUALITY

Congress notes:

USI policy 12/EQ4 mandates USI Officers to campaign for equal access to civil marriage in Ireland.

Congress also notes:

That the Government have committed to holding a referendum on marriage equality in Ireland in 2015.

Congress believes:

That equal access to civil marriage in Ireland is one of the most important civil rights issues of our generation and that the students of this country have a valuable role to play in making this a reality.

Congress adopts:

The ‘Students for Marriage Equality 2015’ campaign strategy document as USI policy.

Congress mandates:

All of USI Officer Board to implement the actions in ‘Students for Marriage Equality 2015’ strategy.

Congress also mandates:

The USI President, the USI Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship and the USI Vice-President for Campaigns to oversee the implementation of the ‘Students for Marriage Equality 2015’ strategy and to report to every National Council in lead up to the referendum on the progress of the campaign.

 

 

14 EQ 4         LGBT* FRIENDLY CAMPUS

Congress notes:

That many institutions do not have an official stance on being a LGBTQ Friendly campus.

Congress applauds:

The promotion of equality and anti-discrimination nationally.

Congress believes:

USI could work with LGBTQ organisations in the development of criteria that would deem colleges to be “LGBTQ Friendly campuses”.

Congress further believes:

That this could be rewarded with national recognition and that this would be of benefit to colleges marketing for second level students.

Congress mandates:

VP for Equality and Citizenship, Campaigns officer and regional officers to work with LGBTQ organisations in developing a framework that could be applied to colleges in order to give them a “LGBTQ Friendly Campus” status.

 

14 EQ 5         REGIONAL LGBT TRAINING EVENT

Congress commends:

The good work completed by the Vice President for Equality and Citizenship along with USI and Students’ Unions nationally on the organisation of Pink Training.

Congress notes:

The importance of Pink Training and the potential value of another event of this nature on a regional basis.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Equality and Citizenship and the regional vice presidents to work with various LGBT societies to organise regional LGBT training events each year.

 

 

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.

 

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

14 NA 1         LIVING WAGE CAMPAIGN

Congress notes:

That the Living Wage is the minimum hourly rate at which one can live on without fear of poverty. Eurostat statistics show that 20.7% of the workforce receive low pay.

Congress also notes that:

  • There is a strong campaign in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for a living wage and that the current living wage rate in London is £8.55 (€10.25); outside of London the rate stands at £7.45 (€8.95). Over 100 high street businesses in the UK support the living wage
  • In Denmark it costs an employer €39.61 for each employee per hour, while in Ireland it costs €24.57. Research also shows that business profits in Ireland have increased by 21% since 2007, at a much faster pace than anywhere else in Europe. The argument that employers can’t afford to pay a living wage should be dismissed in the context of lower-than-European-average labour costs, high increases in business profits, and the increased benefits to business of paying a living wage.

Congress believes:

  • Students and workers have the right to be able to afford to live and not just survive.
  • The introduction of a living wage would be a strong commitment to decent living in our society and enable workers to afford the basic requirements of everyday living.
  • The living wage not only ensures that the employees are lifted out of poverty, it is also beneficial for the employer. We believe that a living wage improves retention rates, reduces absenteeism and produces a higher level of staff morale.

Congress further believes:

  • That the education sector should be amongst the most progressive employers in the country.
  • Education institutions and students’ unions have a civic and societal obligation to pay their staff a fair wage for a fair day’s work.
  • Education institutions should commit to paying a living wage.

Congress mandates:

  • The USI President to call for a living wage in Ireland for all of society.
  • The USI Officer Board to support students’ unions who commit to paying the living wage and lobby their institutions to do the same.
  • The USI President to continue to collaborate with trade unions to work in partnership for students and workers.

14 NA 2         ZERO HOUR CONTRACTS

Congress notes with concern:

The problems of Zero Hour Contracts, seeing them as exploitative, precarious and disproportionately altering the relationship between employers and employees, many of whom are students.

Congress regrets:

That this has additional problems in relation to families/ single parents, given the difficulties of combining Zero Hour Contracts and childcare.

Congress mandates:

USI to confirm its opposition to Zero Hour Contracts, and work with the trade union movements and sympathetic political parties to bring about the abolition of ZHC.

 

14 NA 3         CORPORATION TAX IN IRELAND

Congress notes:

That the corporation tax in Ireland stands at 12.5%

Congress further notes:

That many companies do not pay this rate of tax

Congress notes:

The potential damage raising the corporation tax could have on investment in the country.

Congress recognises:

That increasing the corporation tax, based on the current system, would likely not yield a proportionate tax take.

Congress mandates:

The USI to lobby the government to bring about a situation corporations pay a closer to the effective rate of 12.5% Corporation tax which is already quite low by comparison to other nations.

 

14 NA 4 PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Congress notes:

The year on year cut backs to Public Transport funding in Ireland.

Congress further notes:

The constant hikes in the cost of using Public Transport with no apparent improvement of service.

Congress notes with concern:

The decreased availability and increased cost of accommodation for students forcing more students to commute to college.

Congress recognises:

The cost of public transport for students in Ireland is significantly higher than in other European countries.

Congress mandates:

The President and the Vice President for Welfare to lobby the relevant bodies including the Minister for Transport to provide improved student discounts on all forms of public transport, and to lobby for increased Nitelink bus services mid-week and to report to Council on both issues by September 2014.

14 NA 5         OPT-OUT ORGAN DONATION

Congress notes:

The importance of organ donation within this country in saving lives.

Congress applauds:

The usage of organ donation cards and the promotion of organ donation within the “Irish Donor Network”.

Congress further applauds:

The implementation of an “opt out scheme” for organ donation in neighboring European countries.

Congress believes:

That further actions should be taken to lobby for an opt out scheme to be introduced in Ireland.

Congress therefore mandates:

USI President and VP for Welfare to lobby relevant parties for the promotion of an opt-out scheme in relation to organ donation.

 

14 NA 6         ACCOMMODATION STANDARDS & AVAILABILITY

Congress notes:

That accommodation is a right not a privilege. The shortage of reasonably priced rental accommodation in Dublin, as well as in Ireland in general.

 

 

Congress therefore mandates:

The President to lobby the appropriate national bodies for large-scale investment in student accommodation.

Congress also mandates:

The President, VP Welfare and VP Equality & Citizenship to run a campaign promoting to landlords the benefits of having students as tenants.

 

14 NA 7         STUDY ON THE LEGALISATION OF CANNABIS IN IRELAND

Congress notes:

The growing support for the legalisation of cannabis both for recreational and medical use in Ireland.

Congress further notes:

That many other countries and states have legalised the use of cannabis and this has furthered research and evidence regarding the effects of legalisation upon many aspects of society.

Congress affirms:

Where possible it is best to use existing evidence and research to inform decisions and stances upon issues.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Welfare to conduct a non-biased study on the potential positive and negative effects on society including a focus on the student body in Ireland if cannabis is legalised. This study must be completed before USI considers taking a stance on the legalisation of cannabis.

 

14 NA 8         PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING

Congress notes:

Recent criticisms of RTÉ have called into question the role of public service broadcasting as a whole.

Congress also notes:

That public service broadcasting is a real success story in Britain and Germany in particular.

Congress affirms:

That we ought to be clear as a society that we don’t need to do away with Public Service Broadcasting. Rather, we just need to do it better.

 

Congress believes:

In a model of Public Service Broadcasting that reflects the current issues and views of our communities and which provides a platform for democracy, citizenship and the arts.

Congress also believes:

That RTÉ has failed to really offer this to Irish society.

Congress mandates:

The President and VP Equality & Citizenship to lobby the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources for a root and branch review of RTÉ, with a view to achieving a better public broadcasting service for Irish civil society.

Congress further mandates:

The President to investigate the feasibility of a campaign aimed at lobbying for a better public broadcasting service in collaboration with interested parties and to report back to National Council by the 1st of October 2014.

14 NA 9         TENANTS’ RIGHTS

Congress note:

The ongoing difficulties within some parts of the Irish property market with both the quality and quantity of private rented accommodation.

Congress further notes:

The difficulties that student unions face in attempting to increase the minimum standard of housing through their own in-house efforts or via their college residence office.

Congress affirms:

Where possible it is best for student unions to share best practice on how to enforce tenants’ rights and improve the vetting of advertised rented accommodation.

Congress mandates:

That the Vice-President for Welfare compiles a report on the various mechanisms for vetting rented accommodation in an effort to share best practice.

Congress further mandates:

That the Vice-President for Welfare includes as part of the Rent Book or separate guide, best practice on how to enforce tenants’ rights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 IA 1           SUPPORTING LGBT RUSSIA

Congress is aware:

Of USI’s proud history of campaigning for LGBT rights, including the 1993 decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland.

Congress believes:

That as a Union we have a responsibility to ensure that human rights are protected, not only for our members but also for our European and international counterparts.

Congress is appalled:

By the effect the of the “homosexual propaganda” law that has been introduced and implemented by the lawmakers of the Russian Federation.

Congress notes with concern:

That the Russian LGBT community is living in conditions of extreme oppression while coping with acts of violence on a daily basis.

Congress is disgusted:

That the group calling themselves “Occupy Paedophilia” is allowed to attack perceived members of the LGBT community with almost complete immunity from the law.

Congress is opposed:

To the regime that has been imposed upon the LGBT people in the Russian Federation and conveys solidarity with those who are risking their own lives to fight against this oppressive regime.

Congress mandates:

The USI Equality and Citizenship Vice President to organise a repeat of the recent demonstration in front of the Russian Embassy in co-operation with other LGBT groups, calling for the repeal of this law and the protection of the Russian LGBT community from continued attacks.

Congress further mandates:

The USI Equality and Citizenship Vice President and the USI President to contact the Department of Foreign Affairs with a view to meeting the Minister to ask if the issue has been discussed with his Russian counterparts and if the Government of Ireland is willing to call for a repeal of the “homosexual propaganda” law. This meeting should take place by the third National Council of the year and the findings reported back to that National Council.

Congress also mandates:

The Equality and Citizenship Vice President to continue to work with IGLYO on this matter.

 

UNION ORGANISATION

 

 

14 UO 1         WORKING GROUP ORGANISATION

Congress appreciates:

The diversity of sabbatical officer positions and responsibilities that exists among MOs.

Congress believes:

That National Council acts as a valuable forum for sabbatical officers to share best practice on local activities and campaigns, however

Congress regrets:

That the current arrangement for working groups of National Council is ineffective in facilitating dialogue between the appropriate officers. Areas of responsibility such as elections and democratic activity, class rep recruitment, entertainments, and student survey engagement are the responsibility of a number of different officers who do not necessarily share the same broad role description and as such do not regularly have the opportunity to formally engage on those topics in a USI context.

Congress therefore mandates:

The President to conduct a survey to determine to which of its officers member organisations assign common students’ union sabbatical officer responsibilities. The findings shall be presented to the last national council of this academic year and updated on an annual basis.

Congress also mandates:

The President to facilitate the holding of ad hoc working groups at any ordinary meeting of National Council. Proposals may be submitted by member organisations no less than two weeks in advance of any meeting, must have the support of at least two additional MOs, and shall detail the proposed chairperson and agenda.

 

14 UO 2         STUDENT UNION TRAINING

Congress observes:

Student Union Training has a huge impact on the performance of member organisations.

Congress applauds:

That the current structures of Student Union Training allows for satisfactory training.

Congress recognises:

The value in information/experiential sharing among the sabbatical cohort.

Congress believes:

That improvements can be made in Student Union Training by having speaker driven workshops.

 Congress mandates:

That no speaker at Student Union Training should speak for more than 60% of the session time.

 

14 UO 3         CENTRALISATION OF NATIONAL COUNCIL

Congress notes:

The importance of National Council throughout the year. It allows for the discussion of important issues such both in national council and working groups.

Congress further notes:

The difficulty faced by many member organisations, especially outside of Dublin, in travelling to and attending some national councils.

Congress is concerned:

That this has led to a certain level of absenteeism at national council and it puts extra pressure both on the officers as individuals and the finances of the Unions to travel to these locations.

Congress observes:

That many officers may be too tired to contribute in a meaningful way to working groups and that officers are away from their MO’s for full days due to traveling to congress.

Congress appreciates:

That some national councils are special e.g. SUT & Congress National councils and will require travel.

Congress therefore mandates:

The USI to centralise ordinary national councils to be held in the same location each time. Preferably a neutral (non-college) location so as not to put excessive strain on any MO in terms of commitment to national council. This is to be completed by the end of august 2014.

14 UO 4         GENDER INCLUSIVITY IN SURVEYS AND FORMS

Congress regrets:

That a recent USI survey asked participants to declare their gender as male or female.

Congress believes:

That accidents/incidents such as these are alienating to Trans* or Gender Questioning students who may wish to participate in a USI survey

Congress therefore mandates:

That in all future forms, if gender is not necessary for the outcome aims of the form, then it should not be included.

Congress further mandates:

If gender is required for identification purposes regarding a particular student, the form should be sensitive to how it approaches this question. Where possible, the form should offer the structure: ‘gender: _______’ – letting the person fill it in as they like. Where a blank is not possible due to the need for statistical analysis, forms should offer Male, Female, or please specify: ______ or failing that and as a last result, Male, Female, Other. It is important to note that this format will not adequately or confidentially render statistics on the Trans* or Gender Questioning student population, but rather will provide those students with options which more adequately and accurately reflect their gender experience.

Congress notes:

The approval of National Council of this policy paper and the work done by the three organisations on this area to date.

Congress welcomes:

The collaboration between USI, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Irish Second-Level Union on this area which impacts the memberships of all three unions. This is based on the realisation that the youth jobs crisis can only be resolved by joined-up thinking across second-level, third-level and the labour market.

Congress adopts:

The ‘Locked Out?- Investing In A Future For Youth’ Policy Paper.

Congress mandates:

USI Officer Board to lobby and campaign with ICTU and ISSU for the implementation of the recommendations contained in the policy paper.

 

14 UO 5         STUDENT FINANCE BRIEF

Congress notes:

That the VP AAQA acts de facto as USI’s representative to SUSI and on issues relating to financial student supports.

Congress believes:

That financial student supports are more appropriately assigned to the brief of the VP Welfare.

Congress therefore mandates:

The President as of the 2014/15 academic year, to assign responsibility for financial student support casework and representation to the VP Welfare.

 

 

14 UO 6         ONLINE VOTING FOR ELECTIONS

Congress notes:

The debate around direct elections for USI Officer Board which has been ongoing for many years.

Congress believes:

That a move towards this system would promote greater involvement and engagement by the general student body in USI Elections. It would also lend itself to better communication and promotion of USI Election candidates and key issues. The online video profiles and debates organised for this year’s Officer Board Elections already represents a shift towards increased online campaigning.

Congress mandates:

The President to work with USI staff and Elections Committee to put in place an optional online voting platform for MO’s for all USI elections.

Congress further mandates:

The President to ensure that all MO’s who choose to utilise this system for elections will see their voting allocation transferred directly to the candidate with the most votes cast online in their college, requiring no secret ballot vote at Annual Congress.

 

14 UO 8         SIPTU-USI AGREEMENT

Congress welcomes:

The development of the SIPTU-USI Agreement, approved by the Executives of both Unions.

Congress recognises:

The significant benefits to students, particularly those in part-time employment, arising from the terms of the Agreement, and the tangible added value to USI membership it brings about.

Congress believes:

USI and SIPTU have a considerable amount of shared concerns and issues, and should work and campaign together on these areas where possible.

Congress approves:

The SIPTU-USI Agreement.

Congress mandates:

The USI President to oversee the terms of the Agreement, and work to ensure their implementation.

 

14 UO 10      STUDENTS’ UNION FUNDING

Congress welcomes:

The work of the Presidents’ Working Group on a comparative study of the funding of Students’ Unions which was carried out this year.

Congress notes:

The importance of this data in highlighting the under-funding of individual Students’ Unions both on a national level, and also for internal lobbying purposes.

Congress therefore mandates:

The President to further develop the funding survey in order to collate additional relevant data which will enable the study to have greater comparability and granularity.

Congress further mandates:

The Regional Vice-Presidents to assist member Students’ Unions in collecting the required information in their colleges and completing the survey.

14 UO 11      USI APPROACH TO EVENTS OFFICERS

Congress notes:

As part of motion ‘UO9 – USI Engagement with Events and Marketing’, passed in 2013, Events Officers across the country were reaching out to Officer Board for more support, training and opportunities to network.

Congress affirms:

That Events Officers, both full and part-time, play a pivotal role in the student experience, and that in order to maximise engagement in Union activity, USI needs to consider them in the same light as other Sabbatical Officers.

 Congress further notes:

That Events Officers operate within extremely tight time constraints, just like other Sabbatical Officers and that challenges pertaining to the booking of acts, interacting with the student market etc. now require the attention of the National Union.

Congress mandates:

The President to consult with Events officers nationwide and to have a full training and support plan for Events Officers prepared for presentation to National Council in June.

Congress mandates:

That the effectiveness of this plan be compiled in a report by the President for the November meeting of National Council.

 

14 UO 12      CHAMPIONING STRONG STUDENTS’ UNIONS

Congress notes:

The current state of flux of the Irish Higher Education landscape and the increasing, wide range of challenges facing local Students’ Unions as a result.

Congress affirms:

That in order for the Irish student movement to progress, USI needs to champion strong Students’ Unions that are seen as key stakeholders within colleges, and that are more relevant to grassroots members.

Congress mandates:

Officer Board to proactively make themselves available to MO’s for governance support, such as: assistance with integration into Quality Assurance structures; increasing representation on key decision making bodies and setting a high standard of constitutionality and democracy.

Congress further mandates:

That Officer Board produce a preliminary report on good practice for Students’ Union governance in advance of the National Council meeting in August.

 

14 UO 13      SUSI TRAINING

Congress notes:

That SUSI has improved its processing system this year but yet still some students are still finding it difficult, to understand some of the documentation required for their grant to be accessed. Unlike the VEC, SUSI grant students do not have a point of contact to sit down with in their local area and discuss their grant issues.

Congress mandates:

The Vice President for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance to arrange with SUSI to provide training for all sabbatical officers in the summer months and to provide them with a sample pack with dealing and addressing common issues.

This information and training will assist in providing students with a support system if they have any queries in regard to their grant application.

 

14 UO 14      INCREASED SUPPORT FOR PART-TIME OFFICERS

Congress notes:

That annual events to effectively train and prepare Part-Time Officers are absolutely essential for the student movement, as these officers are often closer to the ground and interacting with students.

 

Congress further notes:

That both national and regional approaches to Part-Time Officer training have had varying degrees of success in terms of content and attendance.

Congress further notes:

That in the run up to Budget 2015, an effective National Campaign is heavily reliant on Part- Time Officers.

Congress mandates:

Officer Board to put in place a rigorous and holistic plan for Part-Time Officer training, with specific focus to be given to the National Campaign. This must be implemented prior to Part Time Officers by September 1st.

Congress also mandates:

That all Regional Officers provide further opportunities once a semester, for Part-Time Officers to network and up-skill.

 

14 UO 15      USI ‘FUTURE FOCUS’ CAMPAIGN

Congress applauds:

The fulfilment of previous Congress policy 11/ ED7 and 12/ NA12 through the organisation of this year’s USI ‘Future Focus’ campaign on jobs, employability and enterprise.

Congress notes:

The three strands of the campaign- The creation and launch of the Jobs.USI.ie website, the employability campus roadshow, and the Student Summit on Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Congress welcomes:

The partnership created with HAYS Recruitment and Enterprise Ireland to support the development and running of this campaign.

Congress mandates:

The President and the Vice-President for Campaigns to enhance and implement the Future Focus campaign on an annual basis. This will include updating the Jobs.USI.ie website and graduate jobs platform, organising the employability roadshow.

14 UO 16      JOB BRIDGE

Congress notes:

The difficulty with the job bridge scheme.

 

Congress further notes:

That the exploitative nature of the scheme has allowed a number of employers to prey on some of the more vulnerable members of society who are looking for work.

Congress condemns:

The fact that many of the intern ships offered bring little or no added value to the participant in terms of career opportunities.

Congress recognises:

That some individuals have benefited from the scheme, but in an overall context it has not been good.

Congress therefore mandates:

The President of the USI to investigate whether it would be better to abolish or reform the program and, after consulting with national council, to campaign on the findings of the investigations.

 

14 UO 17      COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Congress notes:

The positive successes of the USI’s first community engagement initiatives that took place in summer 2013 and Christmas 2013.

Congress recognises:

That these projects need to develop in order to show the positive contribution students can have to society.

Congress applauds:

The good work carried out by Member Organisations with their local communities to date.

Congress recognises:

That in order to continue the good work and highlight the students’ movement, it is vital that these initiatives continue.

Congress mandates:

USI Officerboard to carry out three different regional events in the summer and Christmas period with the local community in a Member Organisation.

 

 

 

14 UO 18      SUPPORTING FURTHER EDUCATION COLLEGES

Congress notes:

That there are a number of further education colleges in the south that have no student union representation on a local or national level.

Congress further notes:

That a lack of local representation may act as a barrier to membership of the national union.

Congress further notes:

The inclusion of FE colleges from the Northern Region.

Congress recognises:

The efforts of USI to include all third level students in its organisation.

Congress therefore mandates:

The President of USI along with the VP AAQA and the Regional officers to establish the plausibility of establish student representation amongst FE colleges currently without representation with a view to them joining the national Union at a later stage. The deadline for this is the 30th of June 2015.

 

14 UO 19      OFFICER BOARD COMMUNICATION

Congress notes with concern:

That members of Officer Board have been deemed detached from students in member organisations in recent discussions by local students.

Congress recognises:

The importance of Officer Board designating a majority of time to representing students on a national level.

Congress values:

The contribution that members of Officer Board can make on a local level to local campaigns and to the efficacy of local officers.

Congress praises:

The contribution of area officers to their local MOs and the experience and expertise that they offer to local officers.

Congress believes:

That further contributions from each (non-area specific) member of Officer Board to local MOs will supplement and augment campaigns, events and initiatives in the areas of welfare, education, equality and citizenship, the Irish language and national campaigns.

Congress therefore mandates:

That the president, and VP for Welfare, VP for Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance, VP for Campaigns, VP for Equality and Citizenship and the VP for the Irish language will organise a personal meeting, by phone, or preferably in person, with each local officer pertaining to their remit, before the end of October, and submit a report on the completion of such meetings to national council.

 

14 UO 21      USI/ICTU/ISSU ‘LOCKED OUT? INVESTING IN A FUTURE FOR YOUTH’ POLICY PAPER

Congress notes:

The approval of National Council for this policy paper and the work done by the three organisations on this area to date.

Congress welcomes:

The collaboration between USI, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Irish Second-Level Union on this area which impacts the memberships of all three unions. This is based on the realisation that the youth jobs crisis can only be resolved by joined-up thinking across second-level, third-level and the labour market.

Congress adopts:

The ‘Locked Out’ – Investing In A Future For Youth’ Policy Paper.

Congress mandates:

USI Officer Board to lobby and campaign with ICTU and ISSU for the implementation of the recommendations contained in the policy paper.

14 UO 22      USI PROMOTIONAL PACKS

Congress notes:

That USI “Freshers Bags 2013” were a success in its first year and were widely used by member organisations and furthering the brand and awareness of the USI with incoming students.

Congress notes:

That this scheme needs to be continued for September 2014.

Congress accepts:

That the timescale for sourcing, designing and delivering packs was short and this needs to be rectified for future endeavours.

 

Congress mandates:
That the USI President, utilising any other relevant resources to actively pursue the completion of promotional bags for September 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

ADMINISTRATION & FINANCE

 

14 AF 1     FINANCIAL REPORTING FOR LARGE-SCALE EVENTS

Congress believes:

Transparency in the financial dealings of the Union of Students in Ireland is of paramount importance.

Congress also believes:

That this transparency is particularly important in relation to large-scale high-cost events organised by USI.

Congress notes with approval:

The presentation on the finances of the USI offered by the General Manager at National Council each year and the further presentation by finance committee at congress.

Congress asserts:

That every effort should be made to ensure financial transparency and that Member Organisations should be entitled to input before decisions regarding the budgets of large scale events are made.

Congress therefore mandates:

That the President present a projected budget for large scale events, including but not limited to Pink Training, SUT, and Congress to a National Council prior to the event for discussion.

Congress further mandates:

That the President present an actual budget for large scale events, including but not limited to Pink Training, SUT and Congress to the first National council after the event as an item for discussion.

14 AF 2     USI FIVE-YEAR FINANCIAL PLAN

Congress notes:

Congress policy 13/A&F2, which calls for a five-year financial plan for USI to be presented to Congress 2014, to include a review of the affiliation fee structure and an aim to reduce affiliation fee dependence through increased income generation from other sources.

Congress further notes:

The USI Income Diversification Strategy, and reforms recommended by Finance Committee to enable tighter USI budgeting, passed by National Council this year.

Congress believes:

That it is a prudent and sensible approach for USI to regularly review financial strategy, and to plan ahead in terms of budgetary projections. This should include the development of a reserves

policy and commercial strategy for USI, as well as identifying potential cost reductions.

Congress approves:

The Five-Year Financial Plan presented to Congress by the USI President.

Congress mandates:

The USI President to endeavour to implement this Plan, and meet the targets set out.

Congress further mandates:

The President to present an update on the implementation of this Plan at USI Annual Congress, and bring any proposed amendments or changes in strategy to the Plan to Congress for approval.

 

14 AF 3     USI INCOME DIVERSIFICATION STRATEGY

Congress welcomes:

The engagement of Venture Advancement to develop an Income Diversification Strategy for USI, subsequently approved by USI National Council.

Congress notes:

The existence of USI Member Services Ltd. as a vehicle for commercial projects and activity undertaken by USI outside of its core representative work.

Congress believes:

The implementation of this strategy and the initial recommended projects is fundamentally important to the future development of USI, in terms of meeting strategic financial targets, adding value to USI membership through the provision of services, and working towards the reduction in USI affiliation fees.

Congress approves:

  • The USI Income Diversification Strategy
  • The development of a web platform for a USI online ‘Student Shop’
  • A joint venture with Green IT for the sale of discounted refurbed laptops to students
  • The ‘USI Extra’ Card

Congress mandates:

The USI President to take responsibility for the implementation of USI’s Income Diversification Strategy and commercial targets, including the successful rollout of the approved projects.

 

14 AF 5     COMPENSATION OF IRISH OFFICER

Congress notes the importance of the Irish language:

Congress further notes the effort and commitment of the VP for the Irish Language in USI.

Congress is concerned:

That the work of the VP for the Irish Language is uncompensated with the exception of expenses and that this is the only unpaid position on USI officer board.

Congress recognises:

That expenses are not paid until the end of the month and can leave the officer out of pocket or unable to do the job. In addition there is a significantly reduced level of accountability on the officer based on the fact that they are not paid.

Congress further recognises:

The fact that the VP for the Irish Language is likely to be based out of the main office and this is likely to be a deterrent to applicants who could not afford to take up the position.

Congress acknowledges:

That changing this state of affairs would require a USI constitutional amendment.

Congress therefore mandates:

That the USI President investigates the possibility of providing part-time pay to the VP for Irish Language.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EMERGENCY MOTIONS 2014

14 EM 1 / NA           DEMONSTRATION AGAINST FORCED LABOUR SCHEMES

Congress welcomes:

The passing of motion UO 16 Job Bridge.

Congress has been made aware:

That a demonstration has been organised by youths wings of the trade union movement to take place on 12th April in Dublin against sanctions individuals who refuse to take a placement on Job Bridge and Gateway.

Congress mandates:

Officer board to support this demonstration.

 

14 EM 2 /EQ                        THE CENTRE

Congress notes with concern:
The recent airing of a comedic programme by RTE called ‘The Centre’ that takes aim at a number of social minorities.

Congress further notes:
The protest registered by the Irish trans* advocacy body TENI about the programmes highly negative, stereotyping and mocking attitude towards trans* people.

Congress recognises:
The USI has been a key voice in the fight for LGBT rights over the past number of decades and in particular its activism on trans* issues in recent years.

Congress believes:
That we must stand in solidarity with TENI against this transphobic programme aired by the national broadcaster.

Congress therefore mandates:
The USI President to make a formal complaint in line with Section 3.4.2 of the BCI Code of Programme Standards to RTE about this programme.

 

14 EM 3 / WEL        WELFARE CAMPAIGN ON SELF-ESTEEM, SELF-CONFIDENCE & BODY IMAGE

Congress notes:

In the second week of March this year, TCDSU ran their first ever welfare campaign in relation to self-esteem, self-confidence and body image, Body & Soul week. Given the positive feedback about the campaign since the deadline for submissions of motions to congress has passed and the overall success of the campaign and the engagement of students in Trinity, this is a worthwhile campaign that should be rolled out on a national level.

Congress further notes:

That in a recent Council in TCD, class reps passed a motion to encourage incoming Welfare Officers in Trinity to organise a campaign raising awareness about self-esteem, self-confidence and body image.

Congress regrets:

That the Department of Health estimates that up to 200,000 people in Ireland may be affected by eating disorders and an estimated 400 new cases emerge each year, representing 80 deaths annually.

Further, there is overwhelming evidence, that body image is intrinsically linked with self-esteem. Our society’s emphasis on how we look also affects the way people feel about themselves.

Congress therefore mandates:

USI VP Welfare to run a campaign specifically in relation to self-esteem, self-confidence and body image.

Congress further mandates:

USI VP Welfare to support and encourage MOs to implement similar campaigns in their own colleges.

 

14 EM 4 / AA           THE NATIONAL CAMPAIGN- EDUCATION AS A PUBLIC GOOD

Congress notes:
The motion passed at this year’s Congress (AAQA1) which adopts the NERI Discussion Paper on Higher Education as USI policy on third-level funding.

Congress recognises:
The importance of mobilising the student body to support the achievement of our desired policy and political aims for a publicly-funded Higher Education system, and the significant ideological crossroads we are now at regarding how we view Higher Education in Ireland.

Congress further notes:
That a National March or Demonstration has not been held by USI since 2011.

Congress adopts;

The Campaign 2014 strategy already passed by National Council, which sets out desired campaigning actions to enable us to achieve our political goals.

Congress mandates:
The USI President and Vice-President for Campaigns to organise a significant national event as part of this campaign which espouse, promote and celebrate the value and benefits of Higher Education to our economy and our society.  This should take place no later than 9th October 2014.

Congress also mandates:
USI Officer Board to collaborate with like-minded organisations who support our funding position and see Higher Education as a public good, to include but not be exclusive to SIPTU, IMPACT, IFUT and the TUI.

 

14 EM 5 / EQ           EQUAL MARRIAGE

Congress notes:

That on the 29th of April the Northern Ireland Assembly will debate a motion calling for equal marriage in Northern Ireland.

Congress believes:

That this motion is very closely aligned to USI policy and beliefs.

Congress mandates:

That the USI officer board actively lobbies members of the Northern Ireland Assembly in conjunction with their partners in the trilateral agreement, NUS and NUS-USI, in order to secure support for the motion.

Congress further mandates:

USI to have representation in addition to the President of NUS-USI in the Northern Ireland Assembly on the day of the vote.

 

14 EM 6 /CZN          HUMAN RIGHTS

Congress asserts:

That USI has a responsibility to protect human rights internationally.

Congress notes:

That currently homosexuality is illegal in 86 countries.

Congress notes:

That Uganda’s parliament has criminalised homosexuality as of February 24th and that internationally there are countries where the Q movement is regressing.

Congress believes:

That there are countries where the Q community do not receive as much media attention as high profile developments in Russia.

Congress mandates:

The president and VP of Equality & Citizenship to draw attention to this issue in a campaign and to support and actively campaign for the decriminalisation of homosexuality internationally.

 

14 EM 7 / AA           INMO

Council notes:

The low pay and difficult working conditions for student nurses and internships while on placement across the country.

Council recognises:

The meeting of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation in the Labour Relations Court on April 2nd which will have severe impact on student nurses for the long term future.

Council mandates:

That the USI create an open forum which will be held twice an academic semester and will be made up of nursing representatives, INMO members and Students’ Union Officers to meet and represent nurses and midwives rights in Ireland and form one coherent approach for the graduate pay and working conditions.

14 EM 8 / WEL        POSTGRADUATE LOANS

Congress notes:

11/ ED 21 which called on USI to tackle the prohibitive cost of postgraduate study via a loan scheme.

Congress recognises:

The near-removal of all postgraduate grants and maintenance in 2012, which has made accessing postgraduate education even more difficult for many students.

Congress reaffirms:

USI’s commitment to a fully public-funded Higher Education system at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Congress acknowledges:

The current situation is completely unsustainable, and requires immediate action now to make postgraduate study more affordable and accessible in the short-term.

Congress applauds:

USI’s negotiations with credit institutions in relation to this area this year in conjunction with the Department and the HEA, which has recently led to a much more affordable product being negotiated with Bank of Ireland.

Congress mandates:

USI Officer Board to endorse and promote this product in partnership with Bank of Ireland in order to ensure that it is available to students considering postgraduate education, as it vastly improves the current situation facing students who are forced to take out a loan in order to fund their postgraduate study.

Congress further mandates:

The USI President to review the postgraduate funding situation on an annual basis, and seek to improve affordability and access to postgraduate study on an ongoing basis.

This should involve in the first instance lobbying for additional public funding for postgraduate education including the reintroduction of all postgraduate grants and maintenance, and in the second instance seeking to improve the terms and conditions of loan offerings with Bank of Ireland or another provider.

 

14 EM 9 / IA                                     UKRAINIAN CRISIS

Congress notes:

On 20 March, Ielyzaveta Shchepetylnykova, President of the Ukrainian Association of Student Self-governments, briefed the 27th European Students’ Convention on the current state of affairs in the Ukraine. Following this briefing, the USI delegation joined a candlelight vigil to honour the victims of the Maidan in Ukraine.

Congress understands:

Demonstrations in Ukraine started in late November 2013 when the Ukrainian government refused to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union and accepted to join the Russian customs union instead. Many of the students, academics and young people in Ukraine have been significantly impacted by the unrest and violence resulting in injuries and deaths on both sides.

Congress believes:

That Ukraine’s democratic development must be under the control of Ukrainians, with the support only upon request of the entire international community.

Congress mandates:

The USI President to communicate to the leaders of Russia, Europe and the wider international community, that we stand in solidarity with our fellow students in Ukraine and demand an immediate end to all interference in Ukraine.

Congress further mandates:

The USI President to call for young people and students in the Ukraine to be protected and supported as the country continues to develop democratically and economically.

 

14 EM 10 / NA        IRISH JUSTICE SYSTEM

Congress notes:

The recent revelations regarding illicit Garda surveillance, including misuse of the Pulse system.

Congress further notes:

The apparent inaction on this issue from the Government.

Congress applauds:

The actions of Garda whistleblowers Maurice McCabe and John Wilson, which have led to the uncovering of widespread corruption within An Garda SÍochána.

Congress affirms:

The purpose of the justice system in any free democracy is to fairly protect the rights of citizens, including the right to privacy.

Congress believes:

The Irish Justice system has clearly failed in this regard, and action must be taken to rectify this.

Congress mandates:

The USI President to call for an Independent Garda Commission to be established as expediently as possible, which has appropriate regulatory powers and oversight so as to ensure this situation is not allowed to occur in the future.

Congress further mandates:

The USI President to send correspondence to the Department of an Taoiseach and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform outlining the concerns of USI Congress, and to the whistleblowers communicating our support.

 

14 EM 11 / AA         SOCIAL WORK GRADUATE PLACEMENT SCHEME

Congress notes:

The proposed introduction of a Social Work Graduate Placement Scheme, similar to the one currently in place for nurses, by the new Child and Family Agency.

Congress is deeply concerned:

That these graduate will be placed on a salary below that of starting salaries negotiated by trade union with the government.

Congress fears:

That the scheme will drive down salaries within the social work sector and would install a new

layer of cheap labour within the profession.

Congress mandates:

USI Officer Board to support the call to withdraw this proposal and actively engage with SWAN (Social Work Action Network) Ireland to campaign on this issue.

 

14 EM 12 / UO        INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVE BRIEF

Congress notes:

That the USI delegation that attended ESU 27 on March 21st reported that USI is significantly underperforming on the international platform.

Congress recognises:

The importance of educating national council on International and European affairs and to perform better internationally.

Congress further recognises:

The importance of National Council members being made aware of developments on an international level.

Congress notes:

That National Council should have direct input into international policy and decision making

Congress further notes:

That Press Releases and Reports on European developments should be circulated after any meeting of the European Student Union

Congress believes:

That motivational letters from any European Student Union candidates should be circulated in advance of Board Meetings

Congress further believes:

That national council should select the candidates they wish to represent them on a ESU executive committee.

Congress therefore mandates:

The President to facilitate National Council in selecting their ESU representatives.

Congress further mandates:

The international representative to circulate regular reports and press releases to members of national council at least after every meeting of ESU.

 

14 EM 13/ IA           Board Meeting Mandate in advance of BM66

Congress notes:

That the USI delegation that attended ESU 27 on March 21st reported that USI is significantly underperforming on the international platform.

Congress recognises:

The value of information and supporting evidence when pushing a student centric agenda through the democratic institutions where we represent our students.

Congress also recognises:

An opportunity at a European level for a comparative study that would determine best practice in terms of what is the most effective student representational system.

Congress therefore mandates:

That the President & Vice President AAQA convene a working group in advance of the 66th Bard Meeting of the European Student Union for the purpose of preparing a motion that would mandate ESU to carry out such a study.

Congress further mandates:

That such working groups with a general focus are convened in advance of any Board Meeting as long as we are members of ESU.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IRISH LANGUAGE

 

 

14 G 2            IRISH LANGUAGE CAMPAIGNS

Congress notes:

The newly ratified memorandum of association between USI and Conradh na Gaeilge, which will not only strengthen the Irish Language campaigns run buy the USI, but it will also ensure that USI will be a prominent stakeholder in Conradh na Gaeilge campaigns.

Congress mandates:

That the LU Gaeilge continue the Irish Language Rights campaign currently being rolled out at the moment.

 

14 G 3            NEW IRISH LANGUAGE POLICY

Congress notes:

That there is a need to re-examine the current USI Irish Language Policy.

Congress mandates:

VP Irish Language to convene a panel to develop and, and present a reassessed Irish Language Policy at a National Council in the First Semester of 2014/2015.

 

 14 G 4           MANDATE LU GAEILGE TO CONTACT NUS & NUS/USI TO BUILD A LONG TERM RELATIONSHIP

Congress notes:

The beneficial aspects of a long-lasting relationship to be built between language officers of NUS Wales and NUS Scotland.

Congress mandates:

The LU Gaeilge to develop a relationship with the NUS Language Officers, with a view to developing a role for an NUS-USI Oifigeach na Gaeilge.

 

 

 

 

 

CITIZENSHIP

 

 

14 CZN 2       SERD

Congress welcomes:

The creation of the Student Elector Registration Database (SERD) as part of USI’s ‘Fight For Your Future Now’ campaign, and the re-launch and re-brand as part of the Local & European Elections campaign.

Congress notes:

The large number of referendums which are forthcoming in Ireland including the Referendum on Marriage Equality, and the next General Election which is scheduled for 2016.

Congress believes:

SERD is very important both as a lobbying tool for USI campaigns, and also in order to promote voter registration and student engagement with the political system.

Congress also believes:

That the SERD database offers USI an extremely valuable platform to directly communicate with its members on elections, referendums, and USI’s position on issues of student importance.

Congress further believes:

That the SERD campaign should be continued as a long-term priority for USI, in order to ensure USI have the maximum possible political clout and influence as a lobby group.

Congress mandates:

The President, Vice-President for Campaigns and Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship to organise an annual voter registration campaign utilising the SERD database, and to set an annual strategy and clear targets for student voter registration. This should be done in conjunction with the USI Taskforce on Volunteering and Citizenship.

Congress also mandates:

The Regional Vice-Presidents to assist MO’s in running their on-campus voter registration drives, as well as implementing USI’s strategy to meet voter registration targets on a regional basis.

 

14 CZN 3       POLITICAL REFORM

Congress adopts:

As USI policy the 2014 ‘Free Our Voice’ political reform document.

Congress mandates:

The USI President, USI Vice-President for Campaigns and the USI Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship to use the ‘Free Our Voice’ policies to lobby the Government for political reform.

 

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