Between 19 April and 22 April 2023, TCD Students' Union (TCDSU) held a vote on the future of union representation for postgraduates in Trinity College Dublin.
Its aim was to determine whether postgraduates would prefer to re-establish a separate organisation(s) for member defence within the university, or be integrated into existing TCDSU structures. Full results of the TCDSU Postgraduate Plebiscite 2023 are available to view below.
We saw a strong turnout of Research PhDs for Question 2 (PhD), which returned a consensus to establish a separate body that will be the sole representative organisation for all PhD postgraduates. The turnout for Question 2 (Masters/Diploma/Certificate) was lower, with 152 eligible voters casting a ballot in favour of a separate body that will be the sole representative organisation for all Masters and Postgraduate Diploma/Certificate students.
It is important to note that the establishment of any new bodies must be led by the communities they will come to represent. Over the coming months, TCD Students’ Union will provide administrative support, e.g. opening channels of communication between postgraduates, to action the above results.
TCD Students’ Union will continue to represent and support all students of Trinity, as has been our constitutional obligation since 1968. Until a separate body is recognised by Trinity College Dublin, our interim representation of postgraduates — via Class/Discipline and College Committee reps — will be preserved to ensure that your needs are met. We thank the Mi-Voice team for facilitating the plebiscite. This marks the first time that TCDSU members were automatically eligible to vote online without the need for pre-registration.
[All postgraduates vote]
“Would you like to re-establish a separate body from TCD Students’ Union which will be the sole representative organisation for all postgraduates in Trinity College Dublin?"
If the majority votes Yes, the postgraduate community will have to come together to build that new organisation, which would likely be very similar to the former Graduate Students' Union. A new Constitution will have to be developed for the election and oversight of representatives, and the new organisation will have to apply for formal recognition by the Board of Trinity College and the Council of the University of Dublin. Its elected representatives will not have a seat in College decision-making bodies until it is recognised. These efforts would be supported by TCD Students' Union, but will have to be led by postgraduates themselves. TCD Students' Union would pursue a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the new organisation to work together on shared goals.
If the majority votes No, this means that you want all postgraduates, or a specific cohort of PGs, to be part of the existing TCD Students' Union. In this case, the TCDSU Sabbatical Officer Board will commence an internal Constitutional review to introduce permanent officer roles for postgraduate representation. The aim of Question 2 is to determine whether these officers should represent the entire postgraduate community, or only part of it. For example, Masters/Diploma/Certificate postgraduates might decide to be integrated into TCDSU while PhDs opt to establish a separate organisation.
You will be able to vote in Question 1 and Question 2 on the same day.
“Would you prefer Option 1 or Option 2?”
“Would you prefer Option 1 or Option 2?”
If everyone votes for Option 1, TCD Students' Union will strive to introduce new officer roles that will be elected by the entire postgraduate community.
If everyone votes for Option 2, the postgraduate community will have to come together to build two new separate organisations: one for Masters/Diploma/Certificate postgraduates and one for PhDs.
If Masters/Diploma/Certificate postgraduates vote for Option 1 but PhDs vote for Option 2, TCD Students' Union will strive to introduce new officer roles that will only represent Masters/Diploma/Certificate postgraduates. The PhD community will have to come together to build a separate organisation for member defence, these efforts would be supported but cannot be led by TCD Students' Union. Vice versa, Masters/Diploma/Certificate postgraduates could vote to establish a separate organisation while PhDs decide to be part of TCD Students' Union.