Comment & Analysis
Mar 14, 2018

Staff and Students Should Unite to Take Back Trinity

Unite's Cieran Perry offers staff support to the campaign against supplemental exam fees.

Cieran PerryOp-Ed Contributor
Dominic McGrath for The University Times

In a society witnessing ever increasing inequality, we must insist that those in power ensure equality of opportunity and access to education for all. I believe the proposal to introduce fees for supplemental exams will significantly impact all students, but most seriously impact those who have financial difficulties. I am certain it will discourage students from disadvantaged backgrounds choosing Trinity.

In conversation with staff around College, it has become clear that support for the student campaign is considerable and significant. Staff and students share fears around the excessive commercialisation of our historic educational institution.

The overriding feeling is that education is taking a back seat to revenue generating activities. Obviously, the government deserves a huge proportion of blame for slashing state support to third-level education. Nonetheless, the gusto with which the current management of College have embraced the drive for non-state funding and extra revenue is an indication of their neoliberal agenda.


In conversation with staff around College, it has become clear that support for the student campaign is considerable and significant

Many staff also point out similarities between current attempts to impose supplementary fees on students and previous attempts to stop promotions for support/service staff and impose fixed term contracts. Commercialisation of College has resulted in attacks on the working conditions of staff and the creation of a more precarious working environment. Trade union members remember and appreciate the support offered by students when we were in dispute with management on these issues. We are willing to reciprocate that support now that the students are in conflict with college.

Unilateral decisions affecting the working environment emanating from College management, without consultation with staff, has resulted in a breakdown in trust. We are now seeing this lack of respect being applied to students. A year after agreeing to work in partnership with the student bodies, management implement supplemental fees against the wishes of a huge majority of students. Responsibility for student actions lies solely with those who haven’t had the courtesy to genuinely engage with the students. The peaceful Take Back Trinity campaign has been loud, vibrant and most importantly, focused. Targeting commercial revenue has certainly attracted the necessary attention.

A unified approach by trade unions in College resulted in a successful outcome to our dispute last year. A similar approach by students will have the best chance at success.

Cieran Perry is the Secretary of Unite in Trinity. He is writing here in a personal capacity as a member of staff in Trinity.

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