Seven proposals have been put to the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) by UCD Students’ Union, who hope that USI will adopt them as key priorities for this semester.
The proposals, dealing mainly with issues of welfare and education, were sent to the USI for consideration as top priority motions for this semester.
In response to the pay cuts of student nurses which were implemented on December 22nd and the scheduled abolishment of all payments to student nurses by 2015, UCDSU called for an active campaign against these actions, and stated that it should be made a national priority for USI to have these salaries restored.
Also, as a result of increased applications for postgraduate programmes, UCDSU has responded by calling for a state guaranteed loan system for students who either cannot obtain a loan from certain banks, or who cannot afford the hefty interest rates.
UCDSU President, Paul Lynam stated that while UCDSU and the USI oppose all third level fees, it is understood that students fees for fourth level are a requirement. However, he states that financial aid should still be available for those who need it.
In order to seek the adoption of the guaranteed loan scheme, UCDSU proposed that the USI appeal to the Department of Education and the Department of Finance.
Issues that deal with the USI itself were also addressed. UCDSU are proposing that colleges who do not pay their affiliation fees be subject to sanctions, including suspension and expulsion from the USI rather than just losing their vote at Congress.
Additionally, it was proposed that a taskforce made up of local CEOs be established at the first National Council of the USI in order to advise the President on issues relevant to students for inclusion in certain documents, such as the lobby for the Oireachtas.
While UCDSU acknowledged the federal nature of the USI, it also emphasized that each institution is independent and therefore proposed that the USI must liaise with and seek the permission of individual colleges regarding local institutional issues before commenting on them, either in support or in condemnation, on a national level.
The Student Assistance Fund (SAF), which is available to any UCD student who is suffering from ongoing financial difficulty, is included in the priorities. The SAF may become targeted in government cutbacks, and the Students’ Union are asking that USI contest any cuts to the SAF while also simultaneously campaigning for increased funding.
Other proposals made by UCDSU include the creation of a Money Management Awareness Week Finally to promote the sensible management of money among students. The campaign would be run by the Welfare Officer and confront matters relating to financial aid as well as providing students with a guide to their budgeting problems.