Fund cuts imminent, warns Provost

By Caitriona Murphy

The Provost advised members at a recent Board meeting that College could expect a seven to ten percent cut in HEA recurrent funding this year.

At the meeting held last month, the Provost delivered his review and outlook and advised that the core grant will be decreased, resulting in a struggle to maintain quality standards in College.

The cut could be damaging to Trinity’s international academic reputation, which has already suffered a blow from the drop in QS ratings. Furthermore, an increase in the amount of students attending Trinity will put additional strain on the budget of the College and is causing difficulties in the staff to student ratio.

The Board noted in the meeting that in order to maintain the current ratio, 70 additional staff members would have to be hired. The money to fund these recruitments, as well as staff for the Ussher Lectureship Scheme that will be launched this year, would have to from non-Exchequer sources. Last year College received €165,234 from the HEA.

The recurrent grant has been reduced in previous years due to the huge increase in registration fees. Therefore a further reduction in the grant could signal that next year will see another jump in the registration fee that students pay.

This news adds pressure to the student fees debate with many fearing that the approaching Budget will forego the registration fee and introduce full fees for incoming students.

The Provost clarified in his report that the College has the legal right to introduce fees but that the introduction would further reduce the core grant that the College receives. He also reiterated that the €1500 registration fee does contribute to the provision of student services, after a recent report showed that the majority of the charge is used for other purposes.

The Provost had another financial report to contend with this month after the Special Report 75: Irish Universities was released. It investigated College resource and monetary management including remuneration.

In the report the Comptroller & Auditor General, John Buckley, found that between the years 2002-2006 the Provost received €6944 of unapproved remuneration.

However in a statement released by the Communications Office it was claimed that this money was as a result of “the requirement for the Provost to reside in the Provost’s House and the treatment of the costs of utilities in the House (much of which is used for College business)”.

The College stated that such costs were resolved with the HEA and resulted in the remuneration costs in 2007, 2008 and 2009 being within the limits set by the Department.