UCD PRESIDENT, Dr Hugh Brady, has expressed concern that the university’s debt could reach €20 million unless radical interventions are made. Dr Brady made the announcement in a speech to over 1,300 staff members regarding the financial situation of the university, where he described it as “a matter of urgency”, saying that if UCD did not decrease its spending, an external body would be called in to “sort out the situation for us”.
Decreased governmental support and pay awards amounting to €15 million in 2008/2009 were blamed for the current deficit of €15 million. Dr Brady suggested that early retirement schemes, a reduction in staff hours, voluntary pay freezes, a recruitment ban and voluntary redundancy would be necessary in order to decrease staff costs. He also stated that promotions for university staff would be deferred, despite the promotion of two Deputy Registrars in September of this year.
Bonuses received by senior staff, which include 15 vice-presidents, have been suspended and it was also suggested that the Higher Education Authority (HEA) would refuse to allow bonuses to be received by senior staff, who had previously been in receipt of a pay allowance.
Non-pay related methods of decreasing UCD spending were also put forward in the form of a reduction in reliance on external consultants and agency staff, limiting UCD advertising and marketing and reducing electricity bills.
In efforts to provide fi nancing for the university, Dr Brady stated that he intends to “realise the commercial potential of UCD” and stated that profi ts made from “assets such as Whiteoaks and Thornfi eld land would feed into academic programmes.”
The President acknowledged “the balancing act” which now faces the university. He stated that although cut backs would be necessary, the university must retain its reputation as an institute of academic excellence. He expressed the importance of maintaining and evolving attractive courses for international and postgraduate students, who will in turn, pay fees to the university.
Dr Brady emphasised the importance of UCD in the future of Ireland, especially during the current economic crisis, stating, “The university is entwined in Ireland’s economic future.”
He stated that he was optimistic that UCD could overcome its financial difficulties as it had done in previous recession eras.