This year, we've got two candidates vying for Laura Harmon's position of USI President. Both candidates are current USI Vice-Presidents, but what do we know about them and what are their aims?
USI PRESIDENCY PROFILE
NAME: Kevin Donoghue
Home SU: NUIG
Current Role: USI VP for Academic Affairs
Tell us about your background.
Well, I went to college in Galway, and I'm from Mayo. I studied law and philosophy in college (in NUIG). In my fourth year in college I ran for the USI, I ended up as the Vice President for the BMW region (Border, Midlands and West).Later I helped with the student marches in Sligo the biggest march, and I also helped with the register drive to get students to vote.
I would have focused quite heavily on lobbying I suppose. I lobbied Enda Kenny, and in fact it was the first time we lobbied him on education in five or six years. I guess I was very campaign orientated, and I eventually became Deputy in the USI. I was also involved with the amalgamation between HETAC, FETAC and the NQAI into one organisation. I also sit on their approval committee for a quality assurance perspective.
How do you feel your campaign is going?
Very well, I'd be happy enough, having said that there's still a few days yet to go. It's the first time in a few years there's going to be a closely contested result. There haven't been any major hiccups I think.
I suppose different people have different views, politically speaking I don't think there's any major difference. We'd be both in favour of free education, although I don't mean to be putting words into my opponent's mouth. What's different about us is we have different approaches.
What are your ideologies, when it comes to the USI Presidency?
I'd always take what would be a results based approach to the work we do, that I suppose always. I set up a thing called the Legislative Working Group and that's gone well so far I feel. We have mandates and if we successfully complete that mandate then that would lead to a change in the law. We submit proposals to parties on ways to improve things for education, but the good thing about it is it meant we could make the change rather than lobbying. We bring a solution to the table rather than just pointing out a problem and telling them to fix it. If I'm elected president I'd like to see that expanded. Actually, I'd like see organisations like FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centre) get involved, we'd have better expertise with them on board.
Will you be looking to get colleges such as UCD back involved with the USI?
Well, UCD left a couple years ago. There is a job to do without them and while we'd prefer to have them on board, we have been managing okay. And there are more joining soon too, with Further Education in Sligo joining, while the Higher Education Colleges Authority will discuss the benefits of USI membership. That's starting to happen now. We mainly represent Level 7's plus, as well as institutes and I'd like to see it expanded to include more bodies.
Would you describe your ideas as radical?
Some people would describe them as radical; the concept of free education is something some people see as radical but I don't think it's radical. Look at other countries, they are the ones that charge little to no entrance fees and free education is the system they use. Free education is the most sensible course.
What do you make of TCDSU Entertainment officer, Finn Murphy’s comments on you?
They made their support for me public, Finn could have worked with me closely and also the other candidate... He felt Glen was an affable guy, that's what he said exactly I think, but he felt I have the better approach, more professional and that I'm better for the job.
Do you think you have enough experience to take on the USI Presidency position?
Three, maybe 4 years. I wasn't always the biggest fan of the USI actually. , 2010, FE. I was seen as a radical. A large part of that was because of me being in favour of free education.
What have you achieved this year?
Quite a bit and there's still more to come. One of the things happening later this week is the student retention project, which will see why they're (the students) dropping out of college. I also got us a seat on the Employers' Survey, and I would have talked to a number of colleges about becoming members of USI I've tried hard to support colleges locally, while there is also my work with the Legislative Working Group and of course I was also Education Officer. These have all given me great experience, naturally.