The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is the sole national representative body for students in Ireland. Founded in 1959, USI now represents more than 250,000 students in over forty colleges across Ireland.
In the beginning, the union took a welfare-first approach, with concentration on pedagogy only emerging in the mid to late sixties. The movement was overtly political and has created a very significant number of public figures in Ireland, including the top radio broadcaster and the deputy prime minister of the country.
The 1970s and 1980s saw very significant political action from the union – in 1972, a joint arrangement with the National Union of Students UK saw the Northern Ireland region jointly administered as NUS-USI.
USI has fought high-profile legal cases on the legalisation of homosexuality and the freedom to distribute information on contraception. We were active in the international fight against apartheid in South Africa and in human rights struggles around the world, and our charity work through the Students 10K Walk for Chernobyl has raised significant sums to produce accommodation and facilities for children in Belarus.
Mission and vision
The basic principle on which the students in Ireland build their Union is for the defence, promotion and organisation of the fundamental educational, welfare, economic, political, social, cultural and other interests of all the students in Ireland on a national and international level.
To realise this basic principle, the Union shall work to foster an education and training system open to all the people on the Island of Ireland, irrespective of any consideration, and which truly serves their interests.
USI believes that students have a right to a decent standard of living including the right to financial support, proper housing and future prospects of employment in Ireland.
USI regards the defence and promotion of all democratic and human rights as a core goal of the organisation.
USI shall seek to provide student services, including commercial services, for the benefit of the membership on the principle that control of student services should lie with the membership.
USI shall be a democratic, student led organisation, independent of all external authorities, with decision making being made at the level closest to students as possible and where formulation of policy by the students ordinarily occurs by simple majority vote of their delegates at Congress except in such cases outlined in Schedule C6.3 and Article 4.1.8. USI respects the right of the students through their Member Organisation to call to account and instruct those charged with office within the union and to discipline and ultimately dismiss those who fail to carry out their responsibilities.