So for a couple of months now you’ve probably heard a lot about the Technological University, and for those in final year you’ve probably lost the will to believe now at this stage if it’ll ever happen! But I tell you now this is really becoming a reality for students of DIT, IT Tallaght and IT Blanchardstown. I will explain how it will hopefully finally come to fruition and how it will affect your Students’ Union.
Did you read that email?
A few weeks ago you would have received an email from DIT to inform you that under the ‘TU4Dublin’ Alliance encompassing DIT, IT Tallaght and IT Blanchardstown; the application was submitted to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to become designated as a Technological University. This application took many weeks to compile and your Students’ Union along with the officers in ITT Students’ Union and ITB Students’ Union were involved in shaping the application to be student-centred, in the same we tried in our lobbying of the Technological Universities Act 2018. Since then the HEA recruited an International Panel of four experts to review our application and report on whether we should become a Technological University.
Just two weeks ago, the International Panel arrived in Grangegorman but also visited the other campuses including Tallaght and Blanchardstown. There were several sessions organised for their four day trip including on research, meeting apprentices, local community engagement, meeting students as well as management of the three institutes. One of the sessions included meeting the Technological University for Dublin Students’ Union, in short referred to as ‘TUDSU’. This is the combined three Students’ Union of DIT, ITT and ITB which formed as a Working Group in January 2017. All the full time elected officers were present, both current and incoming. The hour consisted of a presentation and discussion with the Panel about our concerns for the TU and what we hoped it would achieve for students. Thankfully it wasn’t like an interrogation but since we answered most of their questions in the presentation we had a really fruitful engagement with the Panel and this continued throughout the week as we bumped into each other at the other sessions.
So what happens now?
The Panel have walked the land and seen the evidence of what was said in the application though we’ve proven on several occasions we’re already at University standard but without the name! Now they’ve submitted their report to the HEA; which could say yes, no or not yet up to Technological University standard until certain conditions are met, which could inevitably delay the process. The HEA have this report and will be reviewing it themselves at the end of June and then submit it to the Minister for Education. The Minister has final say, and if the report says yes and if he’s satisfied, he’ll then set a date for the official designation. The preferred time for designation would be December 2018 once all graduations are complete. Ultimately, it’s now out of our hands as we’ve given it our best shot and can only hope that finally our wish may come true!
In case you were wondering, ‘TUD’ is not the actually name of the new University if we were to be designated. The name has not yet been selected as it’s currently undergoing a branding process. This started late last year when students and staff were invited to submit names and the suggested names totalled to a whopping 750! This has subsequently been shortlisted further and a branding company has been tasked with suggesting a suitable name. The process may take a while and will involve many workshops and engagement with staff, students and external stakeholders in order to articulate a name that best suits the new Technological University. The official name will be launched on the successful day of designation.
Now what happens to your SU?
This is where the TUDSU Working Group really comes into play. If we’re successful with designation and it happens in December 2018 it means that on that day DIT, IT Tallaght and IT Blanchardstown will legally cease to exist. From there on a new Technological University comes to life, but be rest assured everything will operate as it was for the first year at least in each of the three Institutes. In regards to your degree; those who are graduating from February 2019 onward will do so with a Technological University degree. Nonetheless, since the three Institutes have to become one new single unit so does your Students’ Union.
Therefore, as each of the Students’ Union derive their authority from separate Constitutions, a new one needs to be constructed. So over the coming months, in anticipation of designation, the Working Group will be drafting up a fresh brand new Constitution to present to each of our student body to vote on in a referendum. Similar to the TU, the vision is that we’re not putting three together but rather creating something new, bigger and better. We want to create a Students Union that greater serves the needs of all students across the three campuses as we will become the second largest Institute and Students’ Union in the country just behind UCD. This is a great opportunity to reimagine representation, engagement with all students and the services we provide. You will be asked to vote on this in the coming months, so please stay engaged and informed in the process and support the team in forming a Students’ Union for all students of the Technological University.
If you want further information on what’s happening with the Technological University, just check the TU4Dublin website here.