Academic Senate to merge with education committee

TCDSU Education Officer Megan O’Connor has decided against reviving the Academic Senate this year

Trinity College Dublin’s Students’ Union (TCDSU)’s Education Officer Megan O’Connor has decided not to revive the Academic Senate, after it was originally put on hold for a year in 2019 by the previous Education Officer Niamh McCay.

McCay originally cancelled the Academic Senate last year, reporting that following a two-year trial period, the Academic Senate was to take a break from its role as a forum for students to discuss academic affairs within College

Speaking to Trinity News, current Education Officer Megan O’Connor stated that she has made the decision not to renew the senate, “after consulting with previous education officers, members of the academic, senators and current members of the union”. 

“I concluded that it would be more appropriate to merge the responsibilities of the Senate with those of the existing Education Committee,” O’Connor explained. “To achieve this, I also proposed to increase the size of the education committee so that the same principle of cross-college representation could be maintained.”

The Academic Senate was introduced in 2017 by Dale Whelehan, half way through his term as Education Officer. It ran for a trial period of two full years during the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic years.

Following its trial period, it was up to previous Education Officer Niamh McCay to either make the Academic Senate a permanent fixture by enshrining it in the union’s constitution, or to scrap it.

Speaking to Trinity News at the time, McCay explained that she opted for a “third option”, deciding to  “give it a break” this year, with the intention of facilitating its return next year.

Explaining to Trinity News about her decision not to renew the senate this year, O’Connor stated that “it’s something I have given a lot of thought to and as it was an item on my manifesto, I did not take the decision lightly”.

“I eventually came to the conclusion for a variety of reasons.”


“I sat on the Academic Senate as a student for the two year period it ran,” O’Connor continued. “The spirit behind the formation of the Academic Senate was wonderful and aimed to improve efficiency within the SU and develop a more consultative approach to academic issues.”

“I believe that the concept of having a body within the Union solely to work on academic issues is important and for this reason, I proposed a motion to First Council to expand the Education Committee.”

The new committee will include the Education Officer, Faculty Convenors, Deputy Faculty Convenors, Programme Convenors, Student Representative on the Undergraduate Studies Committee, Student Representative participating in professional placement or internship for credit, Student Representative who has wet lab-based learning, Student Representative who is registered with the Disability Service, Student Representative who has gone on or is currently on Eras- mus or similar exchange and Four Ordinary Members.

O’Connor explained: “This committee will work on academic policy and work towards improving students educational experience in Trinity, merging the responsibility of the Academic Senate and the existing committee.” 

Duties will include discussing union policy on education and to develop and propose new policy relating to education to Council, to advise and assist the Union Forum in the planning of campaigns relevant to the role of the Education Officer and to develop union strategy for academic issues, discussed or to be discussed on at a School, Faculty or College level.


O’Connor concluded: “I hope to strengthen the existing structures we have by working closely with the Faculty Convenors to ensure we deal with local issues, as appropriate, at a local level and that the more complex and widespread issues are dealt with by the Education Committee and Council.”

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the Editor-in-Chief of the 69th volume Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister student of English Literature and Philosophy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.