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Education race: Adam Carroll

Adam Carroll, currently the UCD Students’ Union Health Science Convenor is the sole candidate running for the position of Undergraduate Education Vice President. In terms of the single most important part of the position, Carroll believes that it comes down to being if “there is a policy, a whole university policy, [that] is seen as unfair, or if students are coming to you and complaining about [it], well then it is your job to fight tooth and nail to make sure that it’s not a problem for students any more”. 

Carroll went on to discuss the three key issues facing students that will be of his concerns should he defeat the RON vote. His primary focus is obtaining a seven day library that can contend with the opening hours of Trinity College Dublin’s.

A 24-hour study space is also seen as a primary objective, with Carroll offering a way of navigating through the insurance complications that stopped the current Education Officer achieving this promise: “The insurance reason was to do with access to the rest of the building, and if that is the only case, then Health Science Library is a perfect example. It was originally built so that it could become a study space and was built in line with American standards, as all the top level American Medical Libraries all have 24-hour study spaces”.

His third priority is the introduction of group grinds for key areas of study: “It’s not built to replace lectures or replace tutorials; it’s just to help, to make a bridge”. When asked about the price of these grinds to the student, Carroll believes it should be no more than €1-2, and should fees be larger, he sees no reason why the Union can’t subsidise the service.

Within Carroll’s manifesto, a study skills lab has also been highlighted: “it can only benefit students, as a top up for first years or for students who have forgotten skills and it’s just to get them in the mindset, so it would be stuff like careful note taking, study labs, exam preparation, and things like that”.

A “rate your module” scheme appears to be one of Carroll’s more complex issues, requiring a website as well as providing reviews for the hundreds of modules offered to students, along with an expo in the O’Reilly hall. Carroll believes he has sufficient training to maintain the website himself, and stated in regard to an Expo: “We have already talked to people about booking out the O’Reilly Hall, from some of the higher ups in the University, they think it’s a good idea, and they are more than happy to lend a hand, with encouraging staff and students to do it”.

The question of online learning is an important issue that Carroll wishes to settle with the introduction of online video tutorial and lectures. While it seems unrealistic that UCD lecturers who often struggle to operate microphones and projectors would be particularly open to this idea, Carroll believes that it “is not particularly technologically intensive for them, so they only have to have themselves videoed and approve the video for it to go up onto YouTube or onto a different portal on the website.”

Carroll has also discussed “supplemental services” to aid the careers office in the form of employability workshops. Though he acknowledges that the Careers Office runs very similar events already, he argues the SU needs to assist in this. He commented: “It can only help that we advertise the service they provide and work with them… It’s difficult for them to put as much effort as I think is needed into what they are doing, so any help that we can provide them is a positive for students.”

In line with a focus on employability, Carroll also wishes to introduce a part time job-seeker database, in which students create their own profiles and market their skills and experience. When asked why employers would seek out a website when hundreds of people can apply for a single job offer, Carroll stated: “It’s a reverse to Jobs.ie and instead of employers advertising where they need to be filled, you advertise your skills, and people respond”.

Carroll spoke strongly of introducing tutor and demonstrator standards to ensure a “setting out of the standards that the university makes and must adhere to. This is stronger than the Best Practice Guide to Assessment, whereby tutors must have these teaching skills, must be trained and learned in the areas in which they are teaching, for them to be able to teach the students behind them”.

Carroll’s manifesto makes no reference to the changed role of the Undergraduate Education Officer, which now encompasses some of the former Campaigns and Communications Officer’s roles concerning class representatives and elections. He defended this decision, saying: “I felt it was important to touch on all the specific education issues first and then after that touch on class reps on a later date… I feel they are important and I just think that a seven day library is perhaps more important but I cannot stress that they are very important to the students of UCD”.

When pushed on his plans for class rep training, though Carroll acknowledged that the Students’ Union is operating under tough financial constraints, he feels a return to an overnight trip away is essential when it comes to properly equipping reps to serve students. He explained: “I know the cost of Class Rep Training is a huge issue for some people but I want to get across the point that it’s an investment and it’s worthwhile… I think that yes, it needs to be cost effective, but in order for it to be cost effective money needs to be spent.”

With SUSI proving to be ineffective, Carroll has looked at ways in which to deal with the problem of student grants:  “One thing that I have been looking at is paying into the social welfare, because they have huge resources at their disposal and I don’t think they have ever been late for a payment. They have the facilities to give out the money, they have numerous staff to do it.” On the feasibility of this scheme, Carroll said: “I don’t think that it would take any more effort on their part, to extend it to the students.” With the administrative problems that caused the SUSI delays, it seems that such a large-scale change to the grants system is an ill-thought idea on Carroll’s behalf.