It’s hard to remember a time when the Trinity Education Project was just an exciting idea that could spell the end of many issues with the undergraduate curriculum in College.
This week, Oisín Vince Coulter, the President of the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU), mooted a similar proposal to review the postgraduate learning experience that would potentially promise a solution to the myriad of problems that have plagued College’s master’s and PhD students for years.
Despite Coulter’s concession that a revamp as drastic as that of the Trinity Education Project is not what is required, it is impossible to dispute that major changes need to be made to improve the teaching and learning experience of Trinity’s postgraduates.
The exorbitant fees postgraduate students pay can leave students feeling shortchanged when it comes to the quality of their courses in Trinity. And as the funding crisis in universities continues, these students are often hit worst by staffing problems and a shortage of resources needed to execute courses pitched as some of the best in the world.
Change, however, is difficult to implement without the backing of an engaged community. The well-documented disillusionment with Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) is unfortunate, but a broad lack of awareness of the GSU and its work is inevitable.
Master’s students are predisposed to not taking an active role in College politics, given their short tenures in Trinity. PhD students uncomfortably straddle the line between being staff members and students. Add to that the ingrained sentiment that the whole cohort is recognised for being cash cows by the College and the road to disengagement is cemented.
The problems facing postgraduate students aren’t likely to be solved by streamlining workloads or changing the structure of the year, but as College tries to expand its offering of master’s courses to attract more and more students, a little consideration for the quality of these should be taken.
If postgraduates of the future are to benefit from improvements made to their courses, a College-led review that will outlive the current GSU executive will be essential to seeing it through.