Students’ Union call for an end to the commercialisation of Irish universities

The UCD Students Union have issued calls for candidates seeking election to respond to the challenges faced by students as the funding crisis in the 3rd level sector continues.

In press releases, Joanna Siewerska, SU President, called on candidates to “respond to the challenges and needs of students and young people in Ireland today.” She highlighted the various concerns that the SU wish to see addressed, which include to “end the shameful and inhumane system of Direct Provision” as well as tackling the health and housing crises. 

In a second press release, Siewerska strongly criticised and called for an end to the commercialisation of Irish universities;

“Despite the funding crisis, universities appear to be doing well financially. UCD is back to pre-crash levels of funding overall and is ever expanding and pouring concrete. Ranking positions may be falling, but non-EU student numbers are rising and somehow, ends are met. The progress of our institutions, of course, lies in their ability to get money from other places.” 

“UCD currently sources more than 60% of its income from non-exchequer sources. This depletion in public funds results in a depletion in accountability and it is having a detrimental effect on the progression of the core goals of higher education. This must be addressed urgently by the next government.”

“Commodified education institutions do not have to care about the welfare of students as a top priority. They can turn around and say if you cannot afford it, do not come here. If you struggle with finances or otherwise while in college, drop out. If the 2 or 4 hour daily commutes each way become overwhelming, well, you applied to come here. We did not invite you. It is a toxic, privileged and self serving sentiment.”

Siewerska will be speaking at the launch event for Fix Our Education, a group that aims “to outline the failures of higher level education and where to go forward.” 

These press releases and public statements appear to suggest that the SU are taking a more public and vocal approach in their criticisms of UCD, as opposed to a relatively muted first semester.