Saturday 24 June 2017

Maynooth University plots €300m redevelopment

University president Philip Nolan is behind the plan

NUI Maynooth
NUI Maynooth
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Maynooth University is planning a €300m redevelopment of its campus over the next seven to 10 years as it seeks to cater to growing numbers of students.

The university's president, Professor Philip Nolan, told the Sunday Independent that €157m in funding had been secured - with a large chunk of this coming from the European Investment Bank - and that the university is looking to raise the rest of the funding.

"The negotiations are at a very early stage. We expect government to fund approximately €100m of this, and have requested this through the recent public sector-wide review of capital requirements," Nolan said. "If granted this would bring the overall state contribution to our €300m programme to €140m."

The university recently broke into the top 50 of the Times Higher Education Young University Rankings (for universities aged 50 or under).

It has over 11,000 students and has been growing the number of first preferences received under the CAO points system in recent years.

Nolan estimates the university will have about 16,000 students by 2025 and the new plan is designed to right-size the campus for that number.

The plan calls for spending €184m on teaching and research facilities, €78m for student accommodation, €24m for sports, recreation, arts and culture, and €21m for land and infrastructure.

Planning applications for parts of the plan will be filed in about six months, Nolan said.

It's part of a wider strategic plan which will see the university put a particular focus on postgraduate education, broadening its research output, and attracting more international students, having revamped its undergraduate offering in recent years.

Nolan backed reform of the funding model for university education. "I think it's important that people understand just how stark things are right now. In 2007, every student in a non-laboratory discipline that was being educated in this institution, and UCD, and Trinity, had €9,000 spent on them. They were contributing €800 and the State was contributing €8,200," Nolan said.

"In 2015, we would have spent about €7000 per annum on that student's education. The student was paying €3,000 of that and the state is paying €4,000... so you're paying a lot more for about €2,000 per annum less."

He said the decline in funding was hitting disadvantaged students in particular.

Nolan said the fairest system would be to share the costs of undergraduate degrees between the State, employers, and students, who would only begin making contributions when their income reached a certain threshold after the degree.

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