The National College of Art and Design (NCAD) will hold a referendum on whether they should reaffiliate with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).
This will be held alongside a second referendum regarding NCAD’s new constitution. A vote will be put forward to students at NCAD’s Annual General Meeting in the next few weeks.
The referendum will be held for students to see “what USI can offer them” according to NCAD Students’ Union President, Eoghan Shankey-Smith. He said he will remain “entirely impartial on the subject”.
NCAD SU has also taken a neutral position on the proposed referendum, and Shankey-Smith said he hopes “that students will make a personal, independent choice on the referendum”.
The role of NCAD SU in this referendum is to ensure that students are informed about the benefits and consequences of a USI membership.
NCAD SU is planning “a series of heated debates and discussions” before the referendum, with the aim of allowing students to make an informed decision. Both the USI and NCAD SU have met on a number of occasions since August.
President of the USI, Joe O’Connor, has called the referendum a “very positive development” and stated that a USI membership is “very beneficial for small colleges”. The USI provides training and support for member students’ unions.
O’Connor acknowledged a benefit for the USI if NCAD re-affiliates, as he believes “together we are stronger”. The participation of more students gives the USI a greater influence on a national platform.
NCAD disaffiliated from the USI for a lengthy period between 2004 and 2009. The reasons included the college being unable to pay USI’s bill, as well as a dissatisfaction with the Bologna reform that was “fully embraced by USI despite concerns from students and academics particularly at NCAD”, according to previous NCAD SU President, Frank Wasser.