Why am I Being Charged a €7 Levy?
Over the past few days you may have received notification of a “€7 Students’ Union Levy” from the fees office . This would have become especially apparent to those of you who are on a grant which covers the cost of the fees, yet you are still being charged for the levy.
The reason for this is that you are now a member of the Union of Students of Ireland (USI). In 2013 a referendum was held by CIT Students’ Union to decide whether or not we would re-affiliate with USI after a 15 year exodus. The results of this referendum were conclusive, with approximately 85% of students being in favour of re-affiliation.
So you may ask why be part of USI? How will it ever affect me and my college experience? Without throwing out generic catch-phrases and buzzwords, here is the value I believe you are getting from USI Membership:
1. National representation – As the president of the Students’ Union I have a vote at national council, whereby all USI decisions and policies are passed. Since I am your elected representative for MTU Cork Students’ Union, this means that your voice and the issues that affect you are being heard on a National level. Also, USI members (i.e. students of MTU) are represented on National issues that affect all students in Ireland such as cuts to the grant, fee hikes, the recent accommodation crisis, LGBT rights, higher education funding, etc. There are so many issues that will affect you throughout your time at MTU, which are shared by students all over Ireland. With USI membership, these issues also become USI’s issues. Therefore USI membership is essential for your issues to be resolved on a national level.
2. More efficient MTU Cork SU Executive Officers- Throughout the summer we have been provided with training courses that will equip us with the skills to perform to the highest standards to make sure that you get the most bang for your buck for the portion of your student contribution fee that pays our wages.
Without USI there is no formal training process for executive officers. Similarly there is no course in college that could equip us with the skills needed for the job we will undertake for the year. USI SUT (Students’ Union Training) gives us a crash course in the areas most relevant to our job such as:
– Public Speaking
– Policy Development
– Time management
– Handling student issues
– Negotiating with senior management
– Lobbying local TDs
– Event management
– Social Media
3. Comparative Research – Through the network we have built up with other colleges in USI , we can look at best practice in other colleges and use this to build stronger arguments when proposing change.
For example part of my election manifesto was to introduce an anonymous module feedback system, whereby students can assess how effectively each module has been delivered. At the beginning of my term I had no idea where to start. Through discussion with other officers in USI, I discovered that such a system is already in place some colleges such as DIT and UCC. This means I don’t have to re-invent the wheel, and also it strengthens my argument to get such a facility in place.
The same also applies to other student issues that affect our students such as: campus catering prices, accommodation, the existence of facilities such as bars and crèches, etc. We can look at how other Unions have introduced change and act accordingly.
4. Support on the big changes – In January 2020 CIT was involved in some huge changes within the institute such as the merger of CIT and IT Tralee to become Munster Institute of Technology (MTU). On our part we must ensure that students are at the forefront of every single decision that is made during this process, and we will have the complicated task of merging our Students’ Union with IT Tralee Students’ Union. By being part of USI we have already gained huge support and knowledge on what we need to consider when merging Unions. We are able to also able to get in contact with other USI Students’ Unions who are part of the quickly progressing Dublin Technological University Merger, so that we can apply what has worked well and avoid what hasn’t, throughout our own merger process. This means that the resulting merged Union will be structured in the best way possible.
Finally, there are so many other reasons why USI membership is important but I would be writing all day when I should be applying what I’ve learned through USI to the improvement of your life at MTU. If you have any more questions regarding the levy please direct them our way at the Students’ Union. Our door is always open.