On March 20, 2023, work recommenced on the new University of Limerick student centre, which had temporarily stopped due to the previous contractor going out of business. Following recommencement of construction under Galway-based Monami Construction, the student levy has been increased to pay for the building.
As it stands, students are expected to pay €98 per semester which will increase by €2 increments each year. In 2018, the levy was set at €18 per semester, with a €200 fine should any student fail to comply with the payments.
The building was originally set to cost €20 million, but is now projected to cost €34 million – an increase of €14 million. Additionally, students were expected to stop paying the levy in 2037, however, the timeline has now been extended to 2040.
The Student Union had agreed with the University of Limerick in 2016 to co-fund the project by way of a levy each semester, with students paying for roughly 80% of the construction costs. At the time students voted 78.75% in favour of this staggered levy.
Rising inflation and construction costs have been deemed the main reasons for the levy price increase, however, this may prove to be a pill too bitter to swallow for students, many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet.
A spokesperson for UL has stated: “The current plan will remain in place, however the levy will be extended slightly to 2040 to take account of the increased costs. This decision was made in conjunction with the student presidents.”
A three-year addition in the timeline and a price hike of €14 million is far from a slight extension, in my opinion.
The new Student Centre, set to be a 3,529 square metre building with four storeys, will be located adjacent to the Stables and the Glucksman Library. It is set to feature landscaped roof garden and new performance and event spaces, such as a 230-seat auditorium.
UL President Professor Kerstin Mey remains adamant that “UL has the highest ranking of all Irish third level institutions for student experience and the new student centre will further enhance the fantastic on campus offering that UL is renowned for.”
A price hike in the student levy in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis raises concerns as to whether or not the UL “student experience” will remain highly ranked.