By Frances Mulraney
Class Rep Council voted to amend the funding models on which students would vote, if a second referendum were to take place on higher education funding.
The council last Wednesday passed a motion seeking to amend the “higher education funding information campaign and referendum mandate due to mandate frustration”.
Last December’s referendum on a higher education funding model was declared null and void by SU president Ed Leamy when voting was discovered to have breached the Students’ Union constitution.
As previously reported by The College View, the last CRC passed the motion to establish a campaigns working group to organise the information campaign surrounding a second referendum on higher education funding.
The proposal was made by class rep Steve Conlon who told the council that the referendum mandate “could simply not be carried in its current form and so must be amended”.
He claimed the campaigns working group, which would be responsible for campaigns proposed by Class Rep Council only, would take responsibility for the development of “an information campaign that outlines the pros and cons of the various funding models currently being debated and to seek, by means of referendum, the opinion of the student body on the funding of higher education”.
The establishment of the working group aims to “free up the exec” yet at the same time ensure that a balanced debate is supported and encouraged on campus “where students can debate the issues surrounding higher education funding and equity of access”.
Its members will be elected at a later date. All members of the group are required to remain neutral for the purpose of the information campaign.
The motion passed last Wednesday altered the options presented to students on the ballot paper, making them “easier to read”. DCU students will now decide between five altered funding options- introduction of means tested tuition fees, introduction of a graduate tax, introduction of a student loan scheme, introduction of a student contribution fee of €2,500 or the introduction of a fully free system funded by conventional taxation.
This new ballot paper introduces the funding option of means tested tuition fees instead of simply the introduction of tuition fees for all. Option four of the ballot also changes the figure of the student contribution fee from €2,000 to €2,500 in line with changes introduced by the government since the first referendum took place.
Onus falls on returning officer Seán Rooney to decide on a date for the second referendum during this academic year. The aim of the referendum is to establish student opinion on the best option for higher education funding with which DCU Students’ Union can lobby on their behalf.