Thursday 17 October 2019

Trinity College launch philanthropic campaign to raise €400m for campus development

Trinity College Dublin
Trinity College Dublin
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is launching a worldwide fundraising campaign to help it reach a target of €400m to develop the campus, recruit more academic staff and improve the student experience generally.

It is Trinity’s  first major philanthropic campaign in its more than 400-year history and the largest ever undertaken in education on the island of Ireland.

The initiative  represents a departure in terms of how Trinity plans to drive its ambitions and comes against a backdrop of a tighter rein on State funding for higher education.

Trinity has quietly raised €272m from 10,244 private donors in 68 countries in recent years and today’s launch represents the public phase of the campaign, to bring in a further €130m over the next two to three years.

International launches will follow in major cities, including London, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Singapore, Sydney and Hong Kong, tapping into Trinity’s global alumni network, and other potential donors.    Trinity has 140,000 registered alumni.

It will help to pay for flagship building projects including the proposed Trinity St James’s Cancer Institute, its E3 Institute in Engineering, Environment and Emerging Technologies, work on which starts this year, and redevelopment of Trinity’s historic Old Library.

Some of the money will fund new academic posts and professorships.   TCD Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast said they wanted to bring the academic staff: student ratio down to 14:1 the average in UK‘s prestigious Russell Group universities.

Priority will also be given to scholarships to support access to the university by students from under-represented groups in society.

The campaign, known as Inspiring Generations, also involves asking alumni to give of their time to students and graduates and has set a goal of building  150,000 volunteer hours to support that hope.

Dr Prendergast said that the initiative “will advance Trinity into the next decade and lay the groundwork for us to inspire generations to come.”

Irish universities suffered severe cuts in funding during the economic crisis, which have not been reversed, forcing the sector to look elsewhere for the money to deliver on its ambitions. While Ireland does not have a big history in philanthropic donations, increasingly, it is a key part of operations in world-leading universities, particularly the US.

According to the Provost, the scale of the campaign made it the fourth largest in the UK and Ireland after the University of Oxford (€3bn), the University of Cambridge (€2bn) and University College London (€600m).

Dr Prendergast said “the ideal situation was a publicly-funded higher education system but we can’t depend on that in a straightforward way like have might have been able to do in the past”.

He said projects were not fully funded by the State anymore, but were supported by a combination of public and private funding.

However, he said philanthropy went beyond that. “Philanthropy allows us to reach for excellence in several areas. It  is  very important ; It is  not replacing Government  funding,  but giving the direction  and capacity  to  build  new infrastructure and hire professors we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to hire.”

Dr Prendergast said they were trying to “build philanthropic funding into the DNA of Trinity. Up to now, it might have been seen as something nice to have, but the truth is, it is an essential element of what a top quality, world leading university does now.”

The shape of the campaign has been assisted by a 45-strong advisory group, known as the Provost’s Council, made up of leading figures in business and industry, which was set up three years ago, for this purpose.

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