College proposes replacing EU student places with non-EU places to increase revenue

Trinity’s Chief Financial Officer Ian Mathews has proposed the replacement of EU student places with non-EU places as part a range of income raising initiatives. Other proposals include placing a capital levy on EU undergraduate students subject to government approval, and the sale of a College building.

Mathews’ presentation, entitled “Trinity Finances: Update March 2018,” stated that additional income of €40 million per annum is required for the College finances to be in a “steady state”. It continued to say that other than reducing budgets, the only solution is “to pursue further revenue growth and increased profitability of existing activities”.

The proposals include “increasing non-EU students from the current target of 18% to 25%” in an attempt to increase income by €30 million per annum. Mathews noted in his presentation that this would result in a reduced number of student places for EU students, which would increase income by another €14 million.

The proposed introduction of a capital levy on EU students subject to government approval would aim to increase income by €16.5 million.  

Further fees increases are also being considered, with Mathews pointing to the 5% increase in tuition fees for postgraduate and non-EU undergraduate students from 2018/19 as an example. The presentation noted that there have been no increase in undergraduate fees since 2009.

The final proposal of the presentation, “considered a last resort,” was the sale of a College building.

In a statement to Trinity News, Matthews said that he gave a presentation to the Fellows ” on the topic of the University’s finances,” at the request of the Fellows.

He said that he “made reference to a number of possible income generating options/concepts” and continued: “Please note that they were only options/concepts emanating from FSD and not proposals for approval. They are not new and were previously presented to the Finance Committee and Board when they considered a paper from myself on the issue of financial sustainability”.

Within the statement Matthews also said College has been “very successful” in “growing and diversifying its revenue streams during the period of austerity”. He said that College must “continue to explore options in the absence of the State’s commitment to higher education following the publication of the Cassells Report”.
His statement concluded: “The alternative to growing income strategically is to reduce expenditure which may have a knock on impact on the quality of the student experience”.

The proposals follow last week’s widespread protests as part of the #TakeBackTrinity movement. Students staged a three-day occupation of the Dining Hall, as well as numerous shutdowns of Front Gate and the Book of Kells. In an email sent to all students yesterday, Provost Patrick Prendergast asked for “forbearance as we find a solution,” after meeting with Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) President Kevin Keane, and Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) President Shane Collins twice in one day.

Last year, College approved a 5% increase in fees for postgraduate and non-EU undergraduate students. The increase will take effect in 2018/19 and applies to continuing students, as well as students starting their degree this year.