UCD to lose millions at the foot of the school of business

UCD could face a substantial reduction in income over the coming years as its business school is considering cutting the annual dividend it pays to the south side college. The dividend is worth millions to the Bellfield campus.

In an interview with The Irish Times, a prominent businessman at the school, Niall Fitzgerald, has said that the school is reviewing how its resources are allocated and this could involve paying less to the university.

“The entity today is profitable as a standalone school of business, but much of its surplus goes to the rest of the university. We need to refine the strategy for the next five to 10 years.”

He admitted that the amount returned to UCD would “probably” need to reduce because the business school “will decline if we continue to do what we’re doing”.

Mr FitzGerald, former chief executive of Unilever and one of Ireland’s most prominent business figures, took over the position of chair at UCD’s Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School late last year. The role includes oversight of all aspects of the business school’s workings.

The most recently available accounts for the UCD school of business show it generated a surplus of almost €9.5 million on income of €48.2 million in the 2012/3 academic year. Of this, it returned a dividend of about €8 million to the wider university.

UCD as a whole had total income of €497 million in the year to the end of September, 2013. Its surplus for that year was €12.2 million.

Mr FitzGerald said the business school offers “a unique bundle” to students, with its combination of undergraduate, postgraduate and international courses. He believes, however, that the school will need investment even to stand still, with more required if it is to grow.

“In the end, the university will have to take a view,” he said.

John Barry

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