A new policy championed since the start of term by Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU), which has the potential to redefine the relationship between the College and its students, has made progress on its way to implementation.
A revised version of the Student Partnership Agreement Policy, created by TCDSU Education Officer, Dale Whelehan, will be returning to the Student Life Committee and the Undergraduate Studies Committee, two of the many committees new proposals must pass through before University Council. This news comes after Vice-Provost, Prof Chris Morash, has agreed to help champion and implement the policy.
The purpose of the agreement is to improve the student experience in a partnership between College, TCDSU and Graduate Students’ Union (GSU).
The Vice-Provost is the primary academic sponsor of the Project, while Whelehan and the GSU’s Vice-President, Elisa Crespo, will be the student champions. The document will also be signed by Provost Patrick Prendergast and the President of TCDSU, Kieran McNulty.
“It’s welcoming that the Provost has agreed with the principles of the partnership and the Vice-Provost has agreed to endorse it”, Whelehan commented, speaking to The University Times.
Whelehan explained that if the policy is implemented, the students’ union and the Vice-Provost’s office will have ownership of the document. A review and an implementation plan will also be produced. A clear partnership agreement as part of the student charter seeks to allow students to become more engaged in the decision-making processes of the College.
Whelehan said that he and the Dean of Students, Prof Kevin O’Kelly, “have been working quite a good bit over the last month to address any of the concerns that were raised about the document at both student life and undergraduate studies committee”.
Whelehan said that parts of the proposal weren’t “in the spirit of partnership and didn’t highlight areas where students and staff could commonly interact in the principles of partnership”.
The policy is divided into three sections: Student Engagement and Representation, Partnership Theme and Associated Projects for 2017-2018, and Scope of the Partnership Agreement Policy.
The policy seeks to encourage students to become more active in their academic experience, becoming “partners in shaping their teaching and learning”. This is set to be achieved through improved communication between staff and students, allowing for more constructive feedback through module surveys, student-staff liaison meetings and focus groups, and through sharing opinions with students representatives as part of the union.
The policy also seeks to engage the wider college community including societies, clubs and publications within college and other external volunteering or student-led projects. The formation of an Off-Campus Strategy within TCDSU, increased engagement with the Dean’s Volunteering Awards and increased engagement with the Alumni Foundation are the methods through which the policy will try to achieve this.
Whelehan noted that if any parts of the policy were to be reviewed or revised it would need to go through Undergraduate Studies Committee and University Council for approval. The section on the scope of the partnership and the section on student engagement will be at the discretion of the Vice-Provost’s office and the students’ union.
The proposal acknowledges the importance of engagement with the Trinity Alumni Foundation, as it can lead to opportunities to engage with alumni for future career opportunities and access to transcripts, references or information regarding their time in College.
The policy seeks to engage further with Trinity’s capitated bodies including TCDSU, GSU, the Central Societies Committee (CSC), Trinity Publications and Dublin University Central Athletics Committee (DUCAC).