Donegal students who had been contributing towards the development of a student centre at Maynooth University have been left outraged after the project was suddenly withdrawn.
A €150 student levy was brought in seven years ago to build a student centre to be home to the Students’ Union and a hub for student activities.
However, the university has confirmed in an email to students that the project is not proceeding citing technical issues and escalating costs.
In a statement, the university says it will work in partnership with Maynooth Students’ Union to provide students with additional spaces for informal learning and gathering.
Anna Rose Travers is a former Students Union Vice President for Student Life.
She spoke to Greg Hughes on today’s Nine til Noon Show………..
Maynooth University statement
Maynooth University has regretfully announced that construction on a new Student Centre project has been terminated, following a decision by the University’s Governing Authority. The Students’ Centre project has been adversely impacted by rapidly escalating costs, linked to technical construction issues as well as hyperinflation.
The University shares the disappointment of our students, and we are reassuring students and alumni that the student levy fund will not be affected by this decision, and that monies from the fund will not be lost because of the termination of the contract.
The student levy has been in place since 1992, with student classes each year contributing to a fund for the development of student facilities from which future students will benefit. The levy is, and will remain, ring-fenced for student facilities projects. In recent years the levy has funded projects including sports, student facilities and an extension to Maynooth Students’ Union (MSU) building, and will continue to do so as a long-term solution to the Student Centre project is reviewed and addressed.
As a public sector institution, Maynooth University is a steward of public monies and we are obligated to abide by public sector spending code rules and legislation for procurement, under the Public Spending Code, the Capital Works Management Framework and the European Union (Award of Public Authority Contracts) Regulations 2016. Among these is a requirement that ‘any increase in price shall not exceed 50% of the value of the original contract.’ Due to the reasons stated above, the fact that the latest project costs already exceed 50% of the original contract was a key consideration for the Governing Authority decision.
Maynooth University, working in partnership with Maynooth Students’ Union, remains committed to providing students with additional spaces for informal learning and gathering that are so important for a vibrant campus experience. In the weeks and months ahead, the University will be funding significant additional social spaces, meeting pods, and seating, furniture and other infrastructure in buildings across the Maynooth University campus.
Important facts to note
While we understand and share the students’ disappointment, the Students’ Union has been involved in this process throughout, as they have seats on the Governing Authority and Project Board, which require a commitment to good governance.
When the students endorsed the levy rising to its current €150 a year (ie rising yearly by €12.50 per year over four years) it was not contingent upon this specific student centre project. Together, the Students Union and University considered several different project plans ranging from extensions of various sizes and locations over the last few years. Given the national landscape in terms of cost escalations, Covid, and the technical issues faced at the site, these aspects are beyond our control. However, we are committed to reviewing plans for medium and long-terms student facilities as we know how vital informal learning and gathering is for the student experience.
In the near term, the University is funding several additional student spaces and facilities enhancement include:
- Additional social spaces for student use
- Additional study spaces
- “Meeting pods for student meetings
- Enhanced furniture in existing spaces
- Additional parking near the Phoenix
- New bus terminus beside Phoenix
- New outdoor gym equipment beside the Courtyard Apartments