The Cancellation of Maynooth’s Student Centre

Here is a promotional video made just two years ago which describes an exciting and much needed new Student Centre at Maynooth University:

According to the Youtube page

This video is the first time we can share with you the vision for our new Student Centre. It gives you an impression of the dedication of MSU and MU in delivering a top-class student experience. We cannot wait to see the physical works begin and we will keep the student body updated as the project progresses.

Well, yesterday the student body was “updated” alright. The project has been abruptly cancelled by the Governing Authority. The reason is

The project has been adversely impacted by rapidly escalating costs, linked to technical construction issues as well as hyperinflation.

Not to be pedantic, the current economic situation in no way corresponds to “hyperinflation” as it is normally defined. However, it is true that costs are increasing especially in the construction industry and this will have put pressure on the University Management who took the easy way out by cancelling the project. I believe this to have been a very wrong, and indeed reprehensible, decision.

Students at Maynooth University voted in 2015 to pay a special levy of €150 per year specifically to fund this new Student Centre. Current students, who have just started the new academic year, will have paid this year’s levy – about 14,000 of them. All that money taken from students (many of whom struggled to afford it) has now been written off. Not surprisingly students feel that they have been fleeced. I say “not surprisingly” because they undoubtedly have been. It’s a scandal and a disgrace.

If you are on Twitter you can see some of the reaction under the hashtag #WheresMyLevy.

Here’s an example:

At very least the amounts collected should be returned. Whether that can be enforced by law is an open question.

The decision to sneak this announcement out while Ireland’s media were preoccupied with yesterday’s budget can have been taken for the purpose of burying it. The story did, however, make it onto the BBC website, and I’m sure the national media will follow. I hope this escalates to the highest levels of Government. I have written to my TD and I’m sure others will do likewise. Universities should not be allowed to treat their students like this.

UPDATE: The story is now on the main RTE News site.

MORE UPDATES: the story is now in the Irish Times, Irish Examiner, and The Journal, to name but three. There has also been lots of radio coverage. Student recruitment is going to be interesting this year...

The sum that has been wasted on this project in consultancy and architect fees up to now is so far undisclosed by Maynooth University, but I’m sure a Freedom of Information request will reveal it…

I’m afraid the decision to terminate the Student Centre is symptomatic of the current management of Maynooth University, which seems to think of students as mere commodity, and academic staff as a insubordinate servants. I could write about other reprehensible failures of governance here, but will refrain from doing so until proper procedures have been completed. Suffice to say that there’s a struggle going on for the soul of this institution, and at the moment it’s not going well.

I know this radical suggestion may prove controversial, but perhaps if university managements really want to get the best out of their staff and students then maybe they shouldn’t treat them like shit all the time?

6 Responses to “The Cancellation of Maynooth’s Student Centre”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    How many students does Maynooth take annually, and are degrees three years or four? I’m calculating how much money has been harvested in the name of this building.

    • There’s a mixture of 3 and 4 year degrees. The total enrolment this year is 14,000 if they all contributed this year alone students have contributed 2.1M, but some students are exempt I think so the actual number is a bit less. I’m sure the total raised is over 10M though.

  2. Was any actual construction work done on the building? News reports are saying that it was due to be completed in July 2023, but surely that can’t be right?

  3. […] A blog about the Universe, and all that surrounds it « The Cancellation of Maynooth’s Student Centre […]

  4. Anton Garrett Says:

    I have often said that academics should do their own admin, because they have an incentive to reduce it whereas hired administrators have an incentive to increase it. Hiring administrators is a one-generation fix before the problem recurs with, moreover, a lot of academic money diverted to administrators.

    Perhaps the late great David Graeber nailed it:

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