We at the University Observer call for transparency from UCD. In a recent publication by Transparency International Ireland, UCD performed poorly in its ability to regularly publish reports about spending, political engagement and whistleblowing practices.
It is unsurprising that the university would score poorly in categories amounting to the overall levels of integrity within UCD management. It has been noted in these pages before, but UCD’s practice of ignoring requests for comment from student press feeds into the same attitude, one where students are intentionally left in the dark about what exactly is happening.
For a university to be falling down on fundamental aspects of what makes it a public institution; clear, open and regular publications outlining major cornerstones of what is important to students and has a direct effect on them - spending, funding allocation, political alignment and involvement, is worrying. Members of the UCD community, and wider society, simply have a right to know and an interest in knowing how our public institutions operate.
There needs to be more work done by the university to ensure they are actively working against mismanagement that bleeds into institutions who are not accountable. The report called for organisations’ “need to do more to showcase their commitment to openness and accountability.” Despite the large amount of resources and ability to allocate funding for this type of data collection and publishing, UCD choose the most unprincipled yet financially attractive option of having a profits-first mode of operation. We know that UCD is not a business, so it is unsurprising that they are criticised for acting as one.
This way of thinking extends far beyond upper management transparency disclosure, and trickles down to all aspects of the student experience in UCD. Students are not the intended customer for the on-campus accommodation that is well-documented to be out of most of their price ranges. UCD are catering to the well-heeled parents of the lucky few who can afford to pay to live on-campus. No part of that set-up serves the average UCD student, in the same way, not regularly publishing financial documents is not accurately serving stakeholders. While the former should be of higher priority to UCD management, it has been clear for years that this is not the case.
UCD has proven time and time again that they simply do not prioritise their students, a mode of operating that is just not sustainable for a public university that is funded largely by their students. Students can try and hold the organisations they are members of accountable, but it is increasingly difficult to do so when the institution themself does not see fit to invest student money in the interests of the student.
This is the final issue of the University Observer for 2021, we wish students well in the upcoming exam season and look forward to the return to campus in January.