A separate Students’ Union for postgraduate students could be established in DCU after a mandate was brought forward at the most recent Class Rep Council (CRC) meeting.
The President of the SU, Paul Doherty is to provide a feasibility report on the proposal at the next meeting where it will be voted on.
A referendum for the entire student body would be needed to ratify a Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) constitution and change the current SU one. A separate one may then have to be held for all postgraduate students.
The idea was proposed by Electoral Committee Returning Officer, Steve Conlon though he was not acting in his official capacity at the time.
Conlon said a proposed GSU would organise talks, workshops and seminars on subjects relevant to postgraduate studies among other things. It would use peer-support to help new postgraduate students avoid any problems at the start of their programme.
Providing support in disputes with funders or supervisors is another proposed service. A GSU would also provide resources such as funding applications, a second hand books facility and help adjusting to postgraduate life.
According to Conlon most Class Reps at the meeting were supportive of the idea. “I have spoken to members of university staff and they are very welcoming. Most postgraduate students are also very keen on it.”
Conlon thinks there is a need for a separate GSU because “postgrad students have very different priorities and approach their studies very differently to most undergraduates. It’s difficult for a students’ union to sufficiently cater for them”.
An election for a new postgraduate officer was held on November 21st and 22nd, but was declared invalid as the required number of votes was not reached.
Conlon said shows the gap in engagement between undergraduate and postgraduate student bodies but stresses this was not the main reason he proposed a change. Last year a mandate at CRC was proposed to engage a part-time postgraduate officer for the Students’ Union which prompted the idea.
The SU is the representative body for all DCU students who are automatically members of the Union. Both Trinity and University of Limerick have a Graduate Students’ Union. Some of the services these provide include a common room, a counselling service and coffee mornings.
Image Credit: Fiona Hughes