An FOI request put forward by László Molnárfi, Chairperson of Students4Change and Gisèle Scanlon, President of the Graduate Students’ Union, on behalf of the #NoInPersonExams national campaign to Minister Harris’ Office has now been granted. The reason for the FOI request was to ascertain a timeline in which Minister Harris engaged with the 5,000 student and staff signatures of the open letter so that he can make a balanced and fair decision relating to in-person examinations. The #NoInPersonExams open letter is spearheaded by two Trinity students, undergraduate László Molnárfi and postgraduate Giséle Scanlon, and has amassed over 5,000 signatures, which were delivered to Minister Harris in good faith on the 1st of December 2021.
Today we have received the results of this FOI. The correspondance which we received contains 6 records were granted to us after we asked for “Documents, communications regarding the decision of Minister Harris to not intervene in Universities holding in-person exams for Semester 1 of 2021-2022. Any communication between Minister Harris and Donnelly for this issue including the meeting minutes of the meetings that Minister Harris had with management, staff and student representatives. E.g. the one on December 1st 2021 with the student unions” and “Documents, communications regarding Minister Harris’ and the Department of Further Education “s consideration of the #NoInPersonExams open letter, which was delivered to the Minister’s Office on 52 Stephens Green on the 1st of December 2021”.
As early as November 19th 2021 at a meeting of the Covid-19 TES Steering Group the issue of Semester 1 examinations across Universities and Technological Universities was discussed. Minister Harris said in his opening remarks that “Decisions in relation to examinations should be taken in accordance with the framework in place i.e. on the basis of risk assessment and consultation”, according to meeting minutes.
At the same meeting, the Union of Students Ireland (USI) President Claire Austick raised the issue of having alternative options for students not able to attend in-person examinations, according to meeting minutes of the Covid-19 TES Steering Group.
Dr Joseph Ryan from THEA, the Technological Higher Education Association, brought concerns relating to increasing levels of anxiety surrounding examinations.
The IUA’s representative at the meeting stated the importance of alternative examination arrangements and also access to PCR tests. The IUA is short for the Irish Universities Association and they represent DCU, Maynooth Uni, NUI Galway, TCD, TU Dublin, UCC, UCD and the University of Limerick. The IUA is composed of the Presidents of each of these Colleges.
Just a month later, at the next meeting of the Steering Committee on the 10th of December 2021, in the middle of exams, Minister Harris in his opening remarks is seen to call the student voices, like NUIGSU, who called out instititutions not creating safe exam conditions to be lies. He called upon stakeholders to “debunk misinformation regarding the application of public health advice”. He also said that an agreement was reached that a “one size fits all approach is not appropriate” – this agreement must be referring to the government’s own decision, as meeting minute do not indicate any sort of direct discussion on the topic.
Dr Breda Smyth, is the director of public health for the Health Service Executive in the west, and also is one of the leaders of the Unicov project.
Claure Austick, USI President, after the opening remarks of Minister Harris, reiterated the importance of alternative options for assesment students in light of rising Covid-19 cases.
The IUA suddenly at this meeting agreed with Minister Harris, contradicting students’ and staff’s account on a number of issues, namely the amount of in-person exams, whether these exams are safe and whether there are proper alternative arrangements (e.g. deferral mechanisms) in place. They also claim that whenever an exam was postponed due to Storm Bara, it was moved to a different date “in agreement with local student unions”, but this was clearly not the case for NUI Galway’s Saturday exams.
Stella Griffin from FORSA, an Irish trade union, noted concern for invigilators (since they are older and more at-risk) in exam halls at the meeting.
Following the 10th of December meeting, a document which describes how to answer questions from TDs in the Dail relating to in-person exams was disseminated to government members. It said that the key messaging must be that all stakeholders were consulted. Furthermore, it crafted a reply to possible “opposition attack lines”.
Another meeting was held just between Minister Harris and the USI and different SUs on the 1st of December 2021. The briefing document prepared for Minister Harris for this meeting shows that Minister Harris’ Office essentially let Universities take the blame. This was re-iterated to the representatives at the meeting, who raised the issue of #NoInPersonExams.
As far as whether the Minister’s Office considered the #NoInPersonExams open letter with 5,000 signatures, they did not. They put it in the government system, but there is no indication that Minister Harris or others in the government took the time to engage with the signatories. This shows a huge disrespect for the 5,000 students and staff who raised the mental and physical dangers of in-person examinations and is an affront to the democratic process.
This was the only communication and document relating to the FOI about whether the government considered the #NoInPersonExams open letter. Branding the Graduate Students’ Union of Trinity a “protest group” just shows how out-of-touch Minister Harris’ Office is with student representation on-the-ground.
Find all the original FOI documents here. Note that for the briefing document mentioned just a moment ago, there were supposed to be “redacted” parts, but the government failed to redact it properly – you can simply copy-paste from the PDF, so we made an unredacted version which describes different issues relating to third-level education at the moment.
We would hope that the Minister has learnt lessons from this, namely that the next time we call to deliver a petition with several thousands signatures and hundreds of thousands of social media interactions, that the Minister will have the good grace to engage with not only the content of the petition, but should extend appropriate respect to the many thousand voters who took the time and consideration to be a part of the campaign.
We are publishing the worrying results of our #NoInPersonExams survey, in which students from across the country participated. 86% said they felt pressured into not deferring. 57% said that they were financially affected, and 65% had to travel with public transport for their exams. 75% lived with someone at-risk, and 85%/98% said that there was no adequate social distancing in the exam hall / in the outside line. 71% of students have heard of others going into the exam hall despite being positive, and 57% of students have heard of others becoming positive following an exam. Find the general and per-University results in full at this link, including comments from students.
The week of the 20th is Christmas week at Halls. Christmas week is not a week to be discussing events – vendors, organize gazeebos, catering, etc. and for College to be giving permission. If the JCR are interested in planning Christmas event, a plan would have to be tabled this week on Tuesday at the Covid-19 Management Team meeting. The time for the JCR to bring events for approval is next week, but if this review takes place next week within the next couple of days (and presented on Thursday at the Trinity Living with Covid meeting) then the JCR will not be able to hold events because they will not have time to discuss and propose events. With respect, the JCR needs time to prepare events and not get distracted by such reviews. What it is is a perfectly timed review to halt the operations of the JCR, to act as an impediment for their operations, which will ultimately end up punishing students who stay over for Christmas.
In addition, the exam season might impede the review, and who knows when it will be complete because of that.
In past years, the JCR has organized multiple events per month. However, as demonstrated, this year’s JCR is being pressured and banned by College from organizing events.This is unacceptable.
Students4Change supports USI’s F*ck the Fees Protest.
USI’s protest takes place Molesworth Street in Dublin at 2pm on the 23rd. Other regions have protests too, check out USI’s social media.
Tuition fees for third-level were abolished in the mid-1990s, however, this has resulted in the Government being tempted to slowly cut funding.
While student numbers increased, so did taxpayer’s investments into Universities, but the overall money available per-student has been decreasing. For example, spending per student at third-level decreased from €10,806 in 2007 to €7,089 in 2016, a drop of 34.4%.
This is despite the fact that between 2007 and 2016, public spending on education increased by 5.1%. It is simply not enough, and this has resulted in the corporatization of Universities, where they have to make up for the loss of state funding by operating like for-profit businesses,cutting courses and downsizing services like counselling.
The process of corporatization has also seen the loss of democracy within Universities, with once-lively student and academic committees making decisions being replaced by closed, managerial and elite decision-making bodies.
The so-called “Free Fees Initative” that was put in place in the mid-90s soon came to be a myth. Already in 2009/2010, students had to pay a “Registration Fee” of €1,500 to access education. By 2020-2021, this fee, now called the “Student Contribution” stands at €3,000.
On the picture, the 2010 student protests are shown, at which participants were brutally beaten by the Gardaí.
Austerity post-2008 was when bankers got away with gambling away people’s lives and the universities were essentially privatised. In Ireland, banks got a €64 billion bailout, funded by taxpayer money.
Today, only 5% of students are from a disadvantaged background in Trinity College Dublin as per the HEA report of 2020. Socioeconomic diversity is at an all time low accross all Universities, as students must pay up to 14,000 € per year for tuition and overpriced student accommodation.
At the same time, student nurses midwifes and dental practicioners are being exploited. “Before their final year internship, most student nurses and midwives get either nothing or an allowance of just €50.79 per week,” says INMO, their union.
Students are emigrating under this immense financial pressure. However, if we combine our forces, we can still change our situation.
In the UK, grassroots groups organized in 2020-2021, engaging in rent strikes and eventually winning refunds of up to 30% for the academic year.
In the Netherlands, tuition fees were halved following the 2020-2021 academic year for 2021-2022, due to the loss of student experience during Covid-19.
All this shows that another system is possible. We need to organize ourselves in radical, mass organizations and keep pushing for change at every corner.
According to documents from College Board’s meeting on the 19th of May 2021, two possible locations to temporarily house the Book of Kells interim exhibition were presented and approved as part of the Old Library Redevelopment Project (OLRP). The tentative locations agreed at Board were Library Square and New Square.
However, between June and August of 2021, the Bursar, Chief Operating Officer of the Corporate Service Division and Estates & Facilities of Trinity College Dublin engaged with Dublin City Council (DCC), who allegedly deemed these two locations unsuitable, and proposed the location of College Park instead. To date, no paperwork or correspondence surrounding this decision has been made available for scrutiny.
The idea of College Park as a location, as yet comes with no formal application and extent of the engagement is unclear, but College was ‘guided that planning permission would be unlikely for either location [the Library Square and New Square’. It seems to have been more like a conversation than a formal engagement process with no concrete evidence as to why the originally proposed two locations were unsuitable.
“I have asked the Bursars’ Office for clear data surrounding the decision-making process between College and DCC, but to date I have not received a response,” says TCDGSU President Ms. Giséle Scanlon. Trinity Fox, in light of this lack of engagement between College and the TCDGSU, has submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to find out information about how College and the DCC arrived at this suggested new location.
Stakeholders directly impacted by this decision had heard nothing of this change in location for four months until the Estates Policy Committee (EPC) on the 15th of October 2021, at which Ms. Scanlon was the sole dissenter of the proposal, and raised deep concerns about the impact this structure would have on-campus sports, mental health and the well-being of everyone, including those working in the buildings adjacent. The EPC is “a Principal Committee of the Board responsible for the review of policy in the area of the development and operation of the College’s sites” and “the meeting was led to believe that extensive engagement had taken place between the Bursars’ Office and stakeholders, who would be deeply impacted,” she says, “I believe committee members were misled, as there had not been adequate engagement with stakeholders. Our own engagement with the GSU, similar to the, consisted of a brief meeting with the Provost”.
Because EPC does not have a representative from on-campus sports clubs or the TCDSU, Ms. Scanlon bore the sole responsibility of representing the student voice, and dissented, because she felt there had not been enough consultation with her members and other clubs across campus.
“It became clear to me that the official slides presented at the EPC did not have the correct pitch sizes. When I left the meeting, as a matter of transparency, I Tweeted my concern and mentioned that I had dissented. Within an hour, DUAFC (football club) expressed surprise that this location was even an option, as the proposed measurements do not cater to football appropriately. I was deeply concerned that neither DUHAC (athletics club) nor DUAFC and the DUCC (cricket club) had not been consulted before the meeting on the 15th. I talked to postgraduates who are members of these clubs and they confirmed that not only had no one spoken to them, but the captains of these clubs had not heard a single thing about College Park as a proposed venue”, she says.
Essentially, Ms. Scanlon’s Tweet about her dissent is the way the wider student body discovered the new proposed location.
Ms. Scanlon isn’t the only one to have voiced feelings of discontent with the new location and the lack of stakeholder engagement. It is reported that trade unions oppose the structure’s location as well, due to it taking away natural light from those working and studying in the neary buildings and libraries.
Mr. Raymond O’Malley, President of DUAFC (football club), said in a written statement to Trinity Fox that “The prospect of not having home matches at College Park for up to 4 years is unthinkable for the Club,” adding that “in our opinion, Library Square or New Square would be superior locations and the temporary nature of the proposed structure would ensure no permanent impact on the setting of either square or the adjoining buildings, which are protected structures. Dublin City Council has recently granted a temporary permission for Covid related structures in New Square that were permitted to remain in place for up to 3 years or whenever the covid restrictions ceased, whichever is sooner. In other words, the Council has accepted the principle of a temporary structure at these alternative locations, so their apparent resistance now to this proposal at those locations is inconsistent”.
Ms. Laura Brennon, President of DUHAC (the athletics club), said in a written statement to Trinity Fox that while they recognize the importance of the redevelopment project, they “are deeply concerned about the impact the proposal of a temporary structure on College Park would have on student sport and recreation. As a club, this is our main training ground, and we simply cannot afford to lose this facility. We pride ourselves in being an easy and accessible club where recreational runners can train alongside world class athletes and College Park is at the heart of this,” and pushed for alternative locations to be found for the Interim Exhibition.
Dr. Ian Morrison, coach at the athletics club, added that “College Park is the heart and soul of our club in DUHAC. [..] [It] is where National Champions and beginners can be observed in training, coaching and developing and our only guaranteed time on grass for most of the athletes. We carefully use the entire perimeter respecting the inside soccer pitch and cricket crease. This will be destroyed by annexing a portion of College Park. Our running area will be massively reduced, to the point that no long intervals could be done without risking injury. We would have to run over cricket and soccer areas recurrently damaging the inside surface and we could not share College park on training nights as we currently do. [..] In the 1990s DUCAC and Trevor West the then Chair fought to stop development on College Park when the College proposed it be sacrificed. This “temporary” structure for 3 years will destroy the grass permanently and College’s record of temporary structures is sadly poor”.
On the 16th of October 2021, DUCAC (representative body for all sports clubs), who have so far shown no willingness to come out against the plan, sent an email to affected sport club captains inviting them to a meeting with DUCAC Chair Mr. Matthew Simons (who ran on a campaign of listening to sports clubs) and Head of Sports and Recreation Ms. Michelle Tanner. The email writes “We will also be providing you with some lunch so please come hungry, ” and essentially issued a gag order on sports clubs, saying that there is a “second meeting [with the Provost]”, until which “we would appreciate [..] that you do not comment to the Press (University Times, Trinity News) about any questions that may be directed to you”.
The EPC feeds into the College Board, at which the final decision is expected to be taken on the 3rd of November 2021 on the location of the Interim Exhibition. A widely-shared petition was launched by Ms. Scanlon in opposition with already over 1,600 signatures at the time of writing, and was backed by independent activist group Students4Change. DUFAC has also come out in support of the petition, with DUHAC and DUCC also voicing their opposition.
Mr. O’Malley also commented on the petition, saying that “College Park needs to be protected for all Clubs and Students and not hijacked for tourists”.
Ms. Aisling Ahern, alumni of the College and former Ladies Harriers Captain wrote that she is “saddened and disappointed that the College would consider the wonderful facility of College Park dispensable. It is absolutely essential as the heart and soul of DUHAC and had contributed endlessly to the fitness, health and happiness of members in Trinity Athletic’s 150 years of existence. […] Knocking the park out of use for 3 years is unacceptable and would damage the long standing culture and tradition of Trinity College Athletics”.
Documents relating to the Exhibition Pavilion also show a proposal to transform New Square into a ‘wellbeing space’ for students and staff, which is understood by some as an attempt to placate student representatives, some of whom, like DUCAC and TCDSU, have so far shown no willingness to oppose the proposed location despite their constituency’s democratic will. It also mentions that the School of Engineering, Provost Linda Doyle’s research area, are interested in using the space, under the heading ‘longer term potential benefits’, which details its possible uses for longer than 3 years.
Neither the College Bursar, the Head of Sports and Recreation, TCDSU nor the DUCAC Chair was available for comment as of the publication of this article. Trinity’s Director of Public Affairs and Communications, Mr. Tom Molloy declined to comment on whether there was engagement from College with the Old Library Redevelopment Steering Committee, a working group of the Library, with regards to the new location of College Park.
In a written statement to the University Times, Trinity Media Relations Ms. Officer Catherine O’Mahony said that “College has made commitments to ensure proper engagements are made throughout the project for impacted clubs and individuals. College is looking to work with the community to ensure the Old Library project proceeds with the support of all stakeholders and for us to minimise the impact of the location for the interim exhibition on sport and recreational activities”.
As we approach reading week, Trinity College Dublin’s constant disregard for our needs continues to decimate our community. Our mental health and the impact of an uncertain and compromised educational experience again this year sees many of our community struggle. The time has come for action, the time has come for us to demand a partial refund.
Students 4 Change (S4C) alongside the Trinity college Dublin Graduate Students’ Union (TCDGSU) are organizing a joint Undergraduate-Postgraduate protest on the 16th of October to show our support for anyone who is feeling forgotten and anxious in these times.
We will be marching from TCD’s Front Square starting at 4pm to the Dáil, where we will join other groups in Ireland to protest against our institutions in public. You are invited to join as we challenge our College publicly and demand our contractual rights, make our voices heard for in-person lectures or refunds and call out Trinity’s disregard for our mental health.
We demand that Management:
Issue a partial refund to any student who suffered unnecessarily In 2020/2021/2022.
Allow jobs currently managed by the TCDGSU to remain in place until the end of Semester 1 so as to allow a smooth transition to a post-pandemic year. Mask wearing should have peer-to-peer support and this employment has saved lives.
Use the same exam format as last year, both for standard assessment in Semester 1 and for Schols. Open-book exams are a holistic way of assessment and should be encouraged all-around. Listen to our anxiety and don’t challenge our mental health.
Make sure that in all cases, assessments are the least stressful possible, and adequate training be given to students for Semester 2’s in-person exams. For example, put a permanent end to the use of the invasive Proctorio monitoring software, which is racist, does not work for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and has serious data privacy issues.
Reverse the 2.3% and 4% rent hike in Trinity Accommodation for students and staff respectively. Some of us are struggling to pay this and can’t afford three meals a day.
Take steps by the end of Semester 1 towards ethical investment and ethically-sourced research and provide an official commitment for this, decrying its links with Israel, the war-industry and Declan Ganley.
Give College security the respect they deserve and not have them chasing students who carry alcohol in their bags to have a social drink with friends on campus.
Commit itself to a student to counselor and student to mental health nurse ratio of 1:1000.
Give money from Trinity Ball to mental health services.
Install proper hybrid learning systems within College, at no extra cost to professors and teaching assistants and commit to make sure that face-to-face education remains a vital part of our education, while allowing choice for students for inclusivity reasons.
Compensate undergrads and postgrads for last year. Compensation which can be given immediately in the short-term are as follows, which we demand:
Make the Buttery free for this year
Per-module refund for this year, for every online class
Refund of services and facilities cost that we did not get to use last year
Postgrads for one-year courses / exchange students who left: give permanent access to digital library resources
Give access to students to *all* online education resources on BlackBoard from their respective Schools
LinkedIn Learning packages for Business school students
Membership to students who wish to use the gym who didn’t get to use it ,ast year
Cover the cost of graduation gowns at commencements as an apology
This list is to be understood as a reiteration and an expansion on the earlier one, not as a replacement.
With no significant changes made in the Budget 2022 to publicly fund the third-level sector or accommodation, we are faced with a continuing academic year which will bring continued uncertainty and anxiety. Our mental health is severely impacted; we are living in hostels in groups, unable to afford better accommodation, we are struggling to keep up again this year and we’re aggrieved that we were lured to Dublin, when we could have stayed with our families and learnt online for the first semester at home? If we have no face-to-face learning currently on campus why are we here?
We have been cheated again like last year’s students (2020/21) who had the worst student experience in history and are currently being refused refunds. The GSU has pressed College hard for six months for percentage refunds for the students of 2020/21 working on real data from a Survey conducted by the GSU.
The decision to call this protest has not been taken lightly, but was made due to our institution’s neglect of students’ needs and specifically in light of no real progress being made with regards to the issue of #ReturnOrRefund and lacking mental health support.
Firstly, both undergraduate and postgraduate students have expressed in clear, democratic and justified terms a demand for a refund of the student contribution fee from 2020-2021.
For undergraduates, this is evidenced by TCDSU Council’s motion in April where the union adopted a position in support of refunds for the academic year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. For postgraduate students, the GSU “Postgraduate Student Experience Survey” of last year, in which 1,246 students took part, expressed that 78% support refunds as compensation for the reduced value for money, e.g. lack of access to services (e.g. paying the sports centre contribution fee throughout the whole pandemic and not getting access), during the pandemic. At the April 14th GSU EGM, postgraduate students voted for a motion demanding refunds.
Across the three faculties of AHSS, EMS, and HS, postgraduate students expressed above 90%+ disapproval of the overall student experience across the aspects of learning, social life and financial matters.
Similarly, students all the way from Freshers to PhD candidates are dissatisfied with the chaotic and essentially non-existent re-opening plan of our College for the Semester 1 of the 2021-2022 academic year. Just recently, 200-300 protested on Front Square, while thousands more interacted with the social media posts of the organizers as a general outpouring of discontent swept across campus that the experience of last year looks set to be repeated for Semester 1, again without any compensation.
This is also evidenced by an independent survey, in which 866 students took part in as of September 17th 2021. Out of those 866, 83% said that they were dissatisfied with our College’s reopening and 42% said that this affected them financially, as for example they had to take up expensive accommodation in expectation – and eventual disappointment – of an in-person learning experience. Despite the first independently-organized protest, College still looks to not have their ducks in a row, as evidenced by TCDSU’s open-letter on the necessity of re-timetabling and the lack of a plan from the Provosts’ Office.
Secondly, and closely tied with the the issue of #ReturnOrRefund, is the mental health of students, staff and of our community.
In 2020-2021, the counselling services of our College averaged, at peak times – build up to exams – over 100 on the waitlist and several weeks to see a 1-1 counsellor. For the 11.4% or so of the total student population who relied on this service during the trying times of the pandemic, this could have, and probably has led to long-term negative consequences. Not only were students used as cash cows and had no educational experience, there were no robust support systems in place to make last year manageable for many students stuck at home. Many reported increased feelings of anxiety, but not just students, staff reported work intensification (65%), loneliness (43%) and emotional exhaustion (51%).
Recently, it has come to light that our College’s re-opening plan will leave many students doing their exams in-person, in the RDS, as they continue to have online lectures. The Senior Lecturer also said on the 12th of October 2021 in an email that exams and Schols will be in-person. This proposal is an affront to students. After one-and-a-half years of online learning and digital note taking, many students will suddenly be told to sit in the RDS as if nothing happened. Outrageously, this plan has no regard for the immense stress that our 17,000 or so students faced last year, and with the same disregard to student wellbeing has absolutely no support structures in place. Similarly, postgraduate students who are employed as TAs, and professors in general, have recently reported that they are under ‘unprecedented pressure’ with the continuation of online learning due to the technological complexities associated with lecture delivery – our College could easily invest in automatic lecture recording software in situ, which would ease stress for the whole community, but this would require investment.
Regarding recent developments, Budget 2022 provides a 5 million € investment for mental health, but this is not enough. According to the USI’s pre-budget submission for 2022, they asked for 28 million €, and according to them, “a third of students at 33.94% feel that their mental health has worsened as a result of COVID-19”. This is to ensure that student to counsellor and student to mental health nurse ratio is 1 per 1000 at 17.5 and 11 million € respectively. There are also non-budgetary asks in USI’s document, such as adopting the holistic Lancet Model, which are also very important.
Our College has 8 counsellors at the moment, which is roughly 1 per 2000. Out of the 5 million €300,000 was given to our College, but this is not anywhere near enough to fix the ratio. This is the government’s fault, but College should be speaking up more loudly and not pretending that our counselling services are in good shape. They could equally re-prioritize their budget away from capital projects (i.e. fancy buildings, which, in this time of crisis, are a luxury) to the community’s needs.
Recently, an article in the University Times claimed that our College has cleared the waitlist on their counselling services. According to the Provost’s email to us on September 22nd 2021, the waitlist was clear a couple weeks back too. It has 40+ days during the build up to exams, which is the issue. “We have no one on the waiting list” does not mean a lot if support systems fail when they are actually needed.
In essence, our College has consistently put increased revenues in front of our community’s well-being. It is time to make our voices heard and demand that we be treated as humans, not as cash cows.
We thus invite you to march with us on the 16th of October at 4pm, starting from TCD’s Front Square, as we demand that the College provide us a proper educational experience, refunds for last year and Semester 1, and that they take into consider students’ wellbeing and immediately invest in better mental health supports.
László Molnárfi, Chairperson, Students4Change +32 470583174
Gisèle Scanlon, President, Graduate Students’ Union +353864120444
Abhisweta Bhattacharjee, Vice-president, Graduate Students’ Union +918583981336
And press release GSU:
Update 13/10/2021 The TCDGSU will be protesting with Students4Change and other groups on October 16th to seek justice for the lack of consideration visited on our members in 2020/2021/2022. We are protesting to highlight student mental health and the impact of an uncertain and compromised educational experience again this year which sees many of our community struggle. The Budget 2022 has spread resources too broadly and too widely. The government is out of touch with the student struggle and mental health reforms although welcome are well short of what we need. The allocation of mental health funds to Trinity College as part of budget 2022; how much is NEW investment or is most of the figure funding which is already allocated? Taking all of this into account…. The time has come for action, the time has come for us to protest and demand a partial refund. Please see releases attached to this email:Please see the GSU PG Student Experience Feedback Survey 2020/21 Please see release in conjunction with Student4Change attached. Mandate Motion 5 Partial Fee refund which has earned 623 votes; 23 votes not supporting (4%) and 600 votes supporting (96%), and the motion is deemed to have passed 14th April, 2021.
Motion mandating that the Graduate Students’ Union of Trinity College shall advocate on the behalf of Postgraduate students for the partial returning of fees for the year due to a failure on the part of the College to provide students that which they were promised when they registered.
a. It is the position of the Graduate Students’ Union that Postgraduate students of Trinity College Dublin have been affected more than any contingent of Students within the College community.
b. There had been a promise of a blended approach to teaching throughout the year with at least some face-to-face tuition. In the vast majority of cases, the College has failed to provide what they promised in relation to this and offered full online programs instead of regular ones. As such Postgraduate students who elected to attend Trinity were sold one product and were in fact delivered an entirely different and gravely inferior one.
c. There were many periods throughout the Academic year in which it would have been feasible for College Students to attend small face-to-face classes, yet the College remained teaching online. Even now Primary and Secondary school students are attending classes while College students are being confined to home, many of them paying huge amounts for rented residence abroad, which has had a quantifiable impact on many individuals’ academic performance, academic motivation, personal health, and mental health.
d. The Irish Government itself acknowledges this quantifiable impact. This is why as part of Ireland’s Budget 2022, the Ministry for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science granted on December 2020 a €250 payment to all full-time EU students in publicly-funded higher education institutions, to acknowledge the impact this pandemic has had on third-level students.
e. Also, various College services that were paid by the students’ tuition fees, were not provided during this academic year, such as access to academic materials in libraries (manuscript rooms), access to the sports facilities, dining spaces, etc.
f. As such it is submitted that the College has a contractual obligation and a moral duty to reimburse students and partially return fees garnered from false advertising and failed contractual obligations of delivery of services and the agreed quality of services, or else shall no doubt be seen to be acting in bad faith with little or no regard for their students who paid an exorbitant amount to be effectively attending weekly webinars.
We are an independent, open-forum, democratic alliance of students from Trinity College Dublin and elsewhere focused on the housing crisis in relation to student accommodation, Irish neutrality, SU reform and other matters of student politics. We encompass a broad church of Marxists and Anarchists, but we also work together with left-leaning students, organizations and movements.