HEA impose sanctions on UCD after unauthorised top-ups

— UCD punished for over €3million in unauthorised top-ups to senior staff— The sanctions will see UCD spend an average of €328,000 a year more on student-related activitiesUCD students are to see an increase of €1.64million in spending on student-related activities after the University made unauthorised top-ups totaling around €3.3million to senior staff from 2005 to 2011.The Higher Education Authority (HEA) has told UCD that it can keep half of the money on the condition that it uses it to improve student services in the college.The University has elected to spread this out over five years, meaning an additional €328,000 will be spent on student services a year during this time. The sanctions resulted in UCD’s overall budget being reduced to €64.67million for 2013.UCD Director of Student Services & Facilities, Dominic O’Keeffe, said, “It’s great to work in partnership with the student leadership to identify projects that are worthy of such funding.”Meanwhile, UCDSU President Mícheál Gallagher confirmed that “€310,000 of funding for student services was agreed between UCD Students’ Union and UCD Management, of which €87,000 was spent in the last financial year, in addition to the €152,000 additional funding agreed this year.”It is believed that over €30,000 was used to provide additional counseling support during 2013 in an attempt to combat the long waiting lists that students face in order to see a counselor through the Student Health Service. The funding will also help students who are suffering from addictions find the correct type of counseling.In addition, there are plans to use the extra funding in 2014 to provide “a peer support and awareness service for students to promote positive mental health.”Services such as the late-night study area in the Astra Hall also benefitted from the redirection of the money towards student services, while there are plans to make improvements to the Newman building, although it has not yet been decided exactly what will be done.Some of the funding is also being used to stage a Dragons’ Den for UCD students, in conjunction with the UCD Student Innovation Fund, which is currently accepting applicants.UCD student entrepreneurs and UCD student-run startups will be given the opportunity to be awarded funding from the UCD Student Innovation Fund to subsidise their business ventures. The competition, which is open to both undergraduate and postgraduate students, has an overall sum of €15,000 to contribute towards aspiring students looking for investment.There will also be some investment in improving sports facilities and equipment, as well as the purchasing of entertainment equipment, such as the soundproofing of the Astra Hall in order to stage gigs such as the Halloween Freak Show in October and the upcoming Duke Dumont and Neil Delamere shows.