Trinity looks set to lose out on up to €120 million in revenue over the next two years as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Provost Patrick Prendergast has warned.
In an op-ed in the Irish Times today, Prendergast wrote that the “disruption caused by the virus has far reaching financial implications for universities”.
Trinity’s revenues, he wrote, “could drop by as much as €40 million this year and €80 million next year” – days after the College informed heads of department of a recruitment freeze due to the “significant financial consequences” of the pandemic.
Prendergast said the coronavirus is likely to “almost wipe out” the income universities make from international student fees – which came to €386 million in 2017 – for at least the next two years.
Income from international students, added Prendergast, “helped in large measure to offset the decline in State funding during the financial recession”.
He urged the government to give financial support to universities he said will need help to “continue their mission of creating new knowledge, helping to revive the economy and preparing the next generation of leaders and do-ers for Irish society”.
Trinity’s hiring freeze, communicated to heads of department by HR Director Antoinette Quinn in an email obtained by The University Times, was put in place to “ensure that we are focusing our valuable limited resources where they are needed most”.
It means recruitment – including staffing requests – will only be allowed on a case-by-case basis, “where a strong business case can be made”.
All recruitment requests will be reviewed by a subcommittee of the College’s Planning Group, which will then make a decision on whether to allow the recruitment to take place.
“These measures will not affect the Chair roles currently in the recruitment pipeline”, Quinn said.
Last month, in a video released on social media, Provost Patrick Prendergast admitted that Trinity would suffer a “financial hit” as a result of the coronavirus, which has forced the country into a months-long lockdown.
Prendergast hailed Trinity’s “global community”, who he said “will work with us to secure the future of this great university” despite the financial challenges that the coronavirus will present.
Earlier this year, The University Times revealed that Trinity could spend €29 million to recruit 263 new academic staff members over the next five years, as part of an ambitious plan to bring its staff–student ratio in line with other major European universities and arrest a series of rankings slides.