Report on the Maynooth University Student Levy

Friday, November 11, 2022 - 10:30



Prepared by the Office of the Bursar, Maynooth University, 11 November 2022

Maynooth University Student Levy
Current Context
Summary of levy funds collected and spending
Communication and oversight


Maynooth University Student Levy

The student levy has been in place at Maynooth University (“MU”) since 1992, with student classes each year contributing to a fund for the development of student facilities from which future students will benefit.
In 2015, the levy was increased on an incremental basis to €150 per annum per student following consultation with Maynooth Students’ Union (“MSU”).  The levy has been frozen at €150 per year since the 2018/19 academic year and this will remain the case until such time as the projects within scope are substantially delivered.

Current Context

The MU Governing Authority (“GA”) has responsibility for the strategic direction of the University, the management and administration of its revenue and property, and the general conduct of its affairs. Members of the GA are drawn from the staff, students, graduates and external organisations.

At its meeting on the 22nd September, the GA decided the construction contract for the MU Student Centre had to be terminated. The decision was made because the costs for construction was projected to be 50% more than the costs of the original contract. This would mean that a breach in public procurement rules would be likely, as the public spending code states that this level of increase (over 50%) is not allowed. The reason for the increase in costs was due to technical issues and an escalation in costs. Also, as it was still in the early stages of construction, further increases could have occurred.

The cost to build a Student Centre is significant and, therefore, in order to meet the scale of the planned student facilities and to deliver them in advance of collecting the amount of funding needed to cover the costs, the University took out a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The student levy is used to repay the portion of the loan that is being used to provide the student facilities.

It is very important to note that no student levy monies have been lost as a result of the GA’s decision to terminate construction of the Student Centre and the funds remain ring-fenced for student facilities projects.

Summary of levy funds collected and spending

This section outlines a detailed breakdown of the levy funds and the spending to date. The MU Student Centre project was agreed with MSU in 2017, and the University has worked in partnership with MSU on all aspects of the design and planning for the MU Student Centre and the delivery of other student facilities. Communication on the spending and amount of student levy collected has been made at annual meetings since 2018.

Since 2015, €11m has been collected in total through the student levy. However, due to the EIB loan, the total amount of funding for student facilities is €34.2m. So far, almost €7.5 million has been spent and the remaining €26.7m is ring-fenced for student facilities.
The €7.5 million spending is broken down into: land for student facilities (€4 million), commuting facilities including a bus terminus, bus parking and car parking facilities (€1 million), enabling infrastructure (over €1.4 million) and sports infrastructure (€1.1 million). Details of the exact spending is provided in this report. 
The University has ring-fenced the remaining €26.7m to be invested on student facilities, including a student building, and remains committed to addressing the need for spaces for MSU, MU clubs and societies, meetings, informal learning and groupwork, places to eat and relax between classes, and other activities. There is also a recognised need for enhanced sports facilities and a shared ambition for a dedicated cultural space on campus.   
The levy has been frozen at €150 per year since it first reached that amount in the 2018/19 academic year, and this will remain the case until such time as the projects within scope are substantially delivered. The Bursar had initially indicated to MSU that the University would seek an increase in the student levy for the 2023/24 academic year, however this was in the expectation that the MU Student Centre would be completed and operational for 2023/24 academic year. This is no longer the case and therefore the levy remains frozen at €150 per year, as was decided in 2018.
A detailed summary of the student levy monies collected and expended on student facilities is outlined in the following table.

Amount Details
€11million Total amount of the student levy collected since 2015
€34.2 million Funding allocated for student facilities (EIB loan)
€7.493 million Amount spent to date on student facilities
€26.7m Funding remaining and ring-fenced for student facilities including student building
€7.493 million Breakdown of money spent to date on student facilities
€4m Towards the purchase of land for student facilities and infrastructure 
€1m Commuting facilities including a bus terminus, bus parking and car parking facilities 
€1.425m Enabling infrastructure, including the developments on the campus ring road (€792k), undergrounding of overhead electricity cables to make the land purchased developable (€246k), and furniture for student social spaces in various building (€387k) 
€1.068m Sports infrastructure, including floodlighting of three pitches on the North Campus (€602k), upgrading of the surface of the all-weather pitch (€198k), and additional gym equipment (€268k).  

The full amount of expenditure to be made on each project and each element of expenditure was outlined in a letter from the former President of MU to the former President of MSU (1st November 2017) for a total of €34.2m to be invested in student facilities.

Communication and oversight

Since the inception of the project, the University has worked with MSU to deliver on student facilities. Oversight of the project, levy and spending has been provided regularly to the GA and MU Student Centre Project Board, both of which include MSU representatives. In the last two weeks, the Bursar held two constructive meetings with MSU to clarify the figures that had been shared with them previously at their annual meetings, to answer questions and to hear their concerns. Going forward, it was agreed the Bursar’s Office would prepare two separate schedules on an annual basis for consideration and review by the Finance Human Resources and Campus Development Committee of GA (FHRCDC) and that these schedules shall be discussed with MSU in advance of presentation to the FHRCDC.