Two entrants will represent UCD in this year’s Miss University competition. Miss UCD 2010 Hannah Saunders, and Zarah Shah from the Smurfit School of Business, will compete with women from many of the country’s third-level institutions for the title of Miss University 2010.

Second year Arts student Saunders told The University Observer that she is excited about the event but will be “in the gym a little bit more” than usual.

Shah said that she would “love to win” the competition, which has prizes including a year’s contract with Assets modelling agency, a €1,000 voucher for Brown Sugar hair and beauty salon, and automatic entry into the Miss Ireland competition.

The competition has aroused much controversy since its foundation in 2007. In its first year, many people objected to some of the entry requirements that entrants had to meet, which included a prohibition of pregnant and married women from entering. The following year, reports arose of a split among the SU sabbatical officers in UCD over the Students’ Union’s support for the Miss UCD heat of the competition. Proponents of the contest argue that these requirements are not strictly applicable to the Miss University contest itself, but are imposed by the organisers of the Miss Ireland competition upon the winning entrant.

Co-ordinator of the Miss University event, Ivano Cafolla, feels that “there’s a lot more support for it this year” in comparison to previous years. Cafolla added that in spite of a small number of colleges choosing to refrain from the competition due to some people being “stuck in the past”, the contest has had its “highest entrance so far” with a wider range of students from post-leaving cert courses “embracing the concept.”

Cafolla remarked that the competition consists of  more than “looking at the picture” of the contestant and judging them on their beauty. He maintained that the competition does not contain a specific swimwear section, but a sportswear section instead, so that it was still the individual prerogative of each contestant to “wear what they want to wear.” Shah also commented that competition is “healthy”, while Saunders acknowledged the contest’s flexible rules, saying “no one’s forcing you to get into a bikini.”

The event, run by entertainment directory, will be held in the Dandelion Bar and Club on St Stephens Green on Wednesday 14th April.