Education Candidate: Christine Brown

 If elected Education Officer, Christine Brown would like to see the introduction of a student-led grinds system to combat fail rates, as well as publishing a UCD Education Guide.

Christine Brown is a twenty-year old Archaeology student who is looking to build on her previous engagement with the SU as a class Rep and use her experience of being auditor and treasurer of the Archaeology society for the role as UCDSU Education Officer.

Brown would like to create “a comprehensive” UCD Education Guide.

One of the main things that Brown would like to improve is the approachability of the SU. She recalls having to inform first-years that they are, in fact, allowed enter the SU corridor. She believes that the way the SU communicates with the students needs to change. She notes that while “the most important purpose of the SU is to represent the student body, it can be hard to do from the confines of a single corridor.” One of the main ways she believes better approachability can be achieved is through Education breakfasts held in the beginning of every semester in each faculty. She also wishes to place more emphasis on announcements on social media and lecture-addressing.

Brown would like to create “a comprehensive” UCD Education Guide. She comments on the fact that the current “Winging it” guide does not include sufficient information on education, which she acknowledges is not the main purpose of the guide. She believes that there needs to be a detailed education equivalent that would provide “information on everything from how to change an elective after online registration closes, to what to if [a student] realises [their] course isn’t for [them].” A factor that is important to Brown is making the guide easily accessible online.

Brown believes the current university fees “need to be significantly reduced,” because there are many people at present that cannot “afford to go to college.” When asked what her view of the SU’s work regarding university fees so far has been, she comments on the fact that the turn-out for this year’s “March for Education” was not as high as it was the preceding year, stating that it was impacted by the impeachment.

To make sure that students have the best financial support available, Brown is looking at introducing SUSI registration drives “to give students the best chance at receiving the SUSI registration grant and answer their questions about applying.” She mentions the importance of students knowing the details that might affect a student’s qualification for a particular SUSI bracket from year to year.

When asked about the work of the current Education Officer, Brown says she thinks he has “done quite a good job,” acknowledging his extensive work on the lowering of the re-sit and repeat fees. She explains she does not address lowering repeat and re-sit fees on her manifesto because she feels that the SU “is already working towards capping” if not “significantly lowering the rate… that is the way I should continue it.” Brown acknowledges re-sit and repeat fees as “one of the biggest concerns to students.” She also aims to work towards lowering the fail rate in UCD by “empowering Class Reps through Staff-Student Liaison Committees” and ensuring that lecturers provide both positive and negative feedback to students on exams and assignments.

As Education Officer Brown would implement a system for students from higher years to provide academic support as grinds to students from lower years. The system would mainly be volunteer-based, as she believes there are “a lot of people in UCD… willing to give a hand.” She envisions introducing small incentives for volunteers, such as coffee vouchers or pizza. Brown believes that the system would also “foster a more welcoming environment in UCD.” She points out that “in the constitution the Education Officer is mandated to look after the Grinds file,” which she states currently does not exist. She is looking at creating a digital alternative to the file.

Brown also intends on introducing up-skilling workshops to improve student employability. The workshops she is currently considering include a “Safepass training course, basic first aid, and a barista course.” She believes that the Union would be able to offer a discount to students interested in the workshops by paying for a part of the course with funds from the Education budget.