DCU struggling to balance sustained budget cuts and an increase in student numbers

Speaking with students at the Class Representative Council meeting held last week, DCU President Prof Brian MacCraith said student numbers at the university now exceed the 12,000 mark, however the level of exchequer funding continues to drop. “We are struggling in every possible way to make ends to ensure we preserve some quality”, he said.

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DCU does not receive the €2,750 registration fee paid by students who are not in receipt of the maintenance grant but rather the government allocates funding for each university in lieu of student fees.

Questions raised by students prompted the President to defend profits generated by DCU’s subsidiary companies on campus by stating that “any money from those goes back in to enable the university to develop”.

Despite these challenges, MacCraith outlined “a major plan for development of campus”, intended to make the university more “student friendly, more attractive, and with better signposting”.

He revealed that many of the campus buildings are set to be renamed within “a matter of weeks” and also expressed desires to see coffee shops open to students at night. MacCraith also wants to double the capacity of on-campus accommodation in the coming years.

In order to raise finance, large-scale fundraising projects are being undertaken by DCU’s Educational Trust. “I was at three meetings today about fundraising for the university…it’s a major part of the job of President of any university”, he stated.

A €50 million Faculty of Education at St. Patrick’s College, which is currently being developed, may present the most significant change to the DCU landscape in the coming years. It will form an integral part of the anticipated merger between DCU, St. Patrick’s College, Mater Dei and the Church of Ireland College of Education.

Responding to representatives’ queries, MacCraith said details had not yet been finalised on whether any students would have to split their time between DCU and St Pats campuses. Despite the religious affiliations of the merging colleges however, MacCraith said DCU will retain its secular nature.

Sarah Bermingham

Image Credit: Eimear Phelan

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