Costing of greenhouses as teaching space deemed to be “unreasonable”

By Aoife Crowley

The buildings and laboratories of the School of Natural Sciences are “technically unsuitable for some of the research carried out in them”, an external review board has found.

The Review of the School of Natural Sciences, which has just been made available, was carried out last spring. It states, “There already seems to be too many students for the available space and resources.” This has led to a large number of Senior Sophister students being denied access to the subject of their choice, though the Review notes that some of their dissatisfaction is ameliorated by good quality attention in Senior Sophister year.

The recent reorganization of the school has not alleviated teaching loads, which are seen to be high in comparison with similar European institutions. New Masters courses have imposed extra burdens, with staff in desperate need of increased administrative, technical and financial support.

The review goes on to say that teaching facilities and space is so limited, that in some cases parallel classes and lectures have to be carried out all year, as the rooms are too small to accommodate the full class. This obviously puts a further stress on teaching loads. One of the problems facing the School is College’s classification of unusable space as normal teaching or research space. The classification of the Botanical Gardens and some other very low-grade space as teaching space is deemed to be “unreasonable”.

Though this problem occurs in many other universities, the Review believes the problem to be “particularly acute” in Trinity.

In response to the review, Professor John Parnell, the Head of the School, agreed that this costing of all space as of equal value was “unhelpful” to schools such as Natural Sciences, where a large proportion of the space is unsuited to class space. “This seems particularly unfair in our case as we have greenhouses which are completely unserviced with no water, light, or heat and which are costed at the same level as our best laboratory space as are our basement areas,” Parnell commented.

The report also recognized that the School had raised in excess of ¤26 million in the last five years for research.