In the last ten years, Trinity has borrowed €145 million from the EIB which went towards the flagship Trinity Biomedical Institute, the completion of Trinity’s new Business School and the development of student accommodation at Oisin House. Trinity has borrowed more than any other Irish university from the EIB in the last decade, according to figures sourced by The Irish Times.
University College Dublin (UCD) has borrowed €90 million in the last decade, with both the University of Limerick (UL) and University College Cork (UCC) borrowing €100 million off the bank. National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUI Maynooth) borrowed €76 million, with Dublin City University (DCU) borrowing €1 million less in the past 10 years. National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) borrowed €60 million, with the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland (RCSI) borrowing €50 million in the same time period.
In 2016, Trinity received €70 million from EIB over a two year time frame. EIB which provides long term lending for education projects and in the aim that the a country’s educational facilities are there to cater for its students. The Cassells report, a report into the funding of higher education institutions, estimated the national financing for these projects to amount to €5.5 billion euro over the next fifteen years. Examples of this funding in action can be seen as recently as last month, where NUI Galway received €60 million in loans to renovate their campus.
Eurostat, the European Union (EU) statistics agency, is currently reviewing whether universities are classified as on or off the national accounts. If universities were to be deemed as ‘on-balance sheet’, they would be prohibited from borrowing which could destabilise current expansion and renovation plans.
Eurostat uses two key measures to make their decision; a market and control test. While universities generate the enough of their income from private sources to pass a market test, the government has increasingly regulated the staffing and salary scales in universities which jeopardises the result of the control test. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) will report findings that will influence the decision made by Eurostat. The government must now wait until the end of the year to determine if expansion plans will remain viable.