Information received by the University Observer under the Freedom of Information Act 2004 reveals that UCD students have paid an estimated €43 million via the Student Centre Levy since 2006.
The capitalised value of all costs associated with the New Student is €52.9 million. In the 2016/2017 academic year alone, UCD students paid an estimated €6.5 million through the student centre levy.
The figures for 2017/2018 were not yet available to the University Observer.
The current cost of the student centre levy for the 2017/2018 academic year is €254.
The student centre levy was first introduced in 1998, following approval of the construction of the Old Student Centre, and was initially set at IR£30, rising to IR£50, the equivalent of €63.50, within two years.
A student referendum held in April 2006 saw then-UCD students vote in favour of increasing the student centre levy to fund the building of the New Student Centre. Prior to 2006, the student centre levy was used to cover the cost of the Old Student Centre. In the referendum, students were asked did they support the increase of the student centre levy from €63.50 (as it was at the time) to €78.50 for the following year, with the expectation that it would rise to €150 by 2008.
At the time, the New Student Centre was expected to cost €35million, and the final plans for the project were not completed when students voted in favour of increasing the Student Centre Levy.
According to a report in the College Tribune from April 2006, Student Centre manager Dominic O’Keefe explained that: “The increase on the Student Centre Levy at the time was proposed to pay off the cost of the mortgage on the student centre.”
The Student Centre Levy has risen steadily since 2006 when it was €63.50. Listed below are the cost of the levy in the years in which it saw an increase: 2006/2007: €78.50
The Student Centre Levy is index-linked, and increases should be in line with inflation levels. Since 2006 there has never been a decrease.
The New Student Centre was originally expected to be open by December 2008, according to reports from the University Observer in 2009, when UCD students were overcharged for the Student Centre Levy. Each student was overcharged by €7.50, and the money was refunded to the student body through distribution to Clubs, Societies, the Welfare Fund, and the Newman Fund.
Currently, students who do not pay the student centre levy are unable to access exam results or graduate from their course. The Student Centre Levy is not covered by the SUSI grant. In the past, students who did not pay the student centre levy were unable to access UCD libraries.
In the New Student Centre, UCD students may avail of the gym for free, though payment is required to use the pool. Many of the rooms are used by societies for holding events and as office space, including the office of the University Observer. On the top floor of the student centre there is a large space for Student Support Services and a storage space which holds props for plays and musicals.
With the proposal of another extension to the student centre, UCD students will be asked via referendum in September 2018 to decide if they wish to continue paying the Student Centre Levy to fund the proposed extension.