Student representatives from across Ireland are to gather this week in Athlone Institute of Technology to receive training from the Union of Students in Ireland to prepare them for the coming academic year.

85 representatives from 25 affiliated Students’ Unions will attend workshops and seminars designed to assist them in all aspects of their jobs, from communications skills, political lobbying and dealing with college authorities.

Managing Director of Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia and Chairperson of Special Olympics Ireland Mary Davis will present a talk on active citizenship. The aim of her address is to encourage the attendees to engage with their communities and the democratic process, both in their year as Sabbatical Officers and throughout their lives.

Athlone native and former Cabinet Minister Mary O’Rourke will advise attendees on how best to lobby their local TDs and representatives. O’Rourke will draw on her years of experience in the Oireachtas as both a TD and Senator to offer insights and tips for the student representatives. O’Rourke now serves on the board of directors for Educate Together and has appeared on popular RTE shows such as ‘Celebrity Bainisteoir’ and ‘Sex and Sensibility’.

Speaking about the challenges facing higher education, the Chief Executive of the Higher Education Authority, Tom Boland, is expected to repeat the grim message he has delivered in recent media appearances. Boland has stated that the higher education sector is in financial crisis and requires more investment.

Speaker Times:

HEA Chief Tom Boland, Monday July 16th, 17:15 – 18:00

Mary O’Rourke, Tuesday July 17th, 14:45 – 15:15 and 16:45 – 17:15

Mary Davis, Wednesday July 18th, 18:00 – 19:00

USI President John Logue said:

“We are delighted that Athlone IT has agreed to host our annual training week. Its location in the heart of the midlands is ideal for student representatives from across the island to gather and prepare for the year ahead.

Students’ Union Training is a unique opportunity for representatives to come together and share ideas, ahead of what will inevitably be a difficult year for Irish students. The Union of Students in Ireland hopes that those who attend this week will come away confident that we are equipped to face all challenges and that we will do so as a united movement.” 

Athlone ITSU President John Madden:

“AITSU are delighted to be hosting the annual Students’ Union Training. We welcome all guests, be they the sabbatical officers from far and wide, or the guest speakers. It promises to be an exciting week, and a great start to a challenging year.”


For more information, contact USI Media and Communications Executive, Ronan Costello, on 085-1164263 or email at