As the Technological University Bill talks continue, the student union officers of what is expected to be Ireland’s largest and first technological university (TUD) gathered at IT Tallaght on the 11th April for a training on how to engage with policy makers in the Irish parliament and in the government. Present at the event were current and incoming officers of all three institutes of Technology that make up the TUD(DIT, IT Tallaght and IT Blanchardstown), and they gathered to acquire skills of lo
bbying members of Seanad Éireann and the Dáil Éireann. The sessions involved training on public speaking, policy processes in Ireland and how to influence it. Pat Montague, an expert in policy lobbying and influencing took the officers through the dos and don’ts of effective policy influencing, key arguments to be presented when lobbying and of course, communication basics and processes for addressing members of parliament.
Officers of all three institutions also participated in mock presentations, which was video recorded and evaluated for feedback, ensuring that all officers were well trained to speak in front of a live camera during lobbying sessions at the house of the Oireachtas. Key takeaway points from the event:
“You need to be on time when you are meeting with any member of the Oireachtas; lateness looks bad”
Officials were also informed of the need to be constructive when laying out their arguments and viewpoints to their representatives, with balanced arguments and credible sources of information. Lobbyists must ensure that they do not engage too much criticisms in their approach and reduce language jargon and slangs to a bare minimum, particularly because they are addressing a very formal audience. Furthermore, the trainer stressed the need for lobbying activities to be localized and TUDSU officers need to work with all parties across the board, being non-partisan and engage all stakeholders in the process as they move towards the realization of the TUD Grangegorman campus.
A crucial point noted during the training is the need for emphasis on leaving a legacy.
You need to emphasise the fact that TUD becoming a reality means that everyone wins – students, teachers and the wider society. Connect the politicians to the fact that they are leaving a legacy that will transcend their time in office.
This point is indeed true for the TUD Grangegorman campus, as it is not just a tall ambition but a legacy that will affect thousands of students and probably change their lives forever. As the student leaders keep lobbying and pushing for the passage of the Technological University Bill, we anticipate that this legacy will soon become a reality, not for us alone, but for the future of higher education in Ireland.