This week, The University Times reported that Dublin-based Scholars had been urged to consider giving up their on-campus accommodation by the Scholars committee in order to help shore up Trinity’s finances.
In an email to all Scholars, the committee made it clear that College considered on-campus accommodation an alluring incentive for non-EU students to come to Trinity, and therefore giving it up would be helping Trinity’s finances.
In the committee’s view, College was requesting Dublin-based Scholars to give up accommodation with money on its mind – and understandably enough. Rent, along with non-EU student fees, will be important for a College struggling to keep its head above water.
Instead of citing these financial motivations, however, Trinity has consistently argued that its desire for Dublin-based Scholars to stay home was for public health reasons, adding that it couldn’t have been financially motivated as Trinity will be compensating Scholars who miss out on accommodation with cash.
But College has not adequately explained why it’s safer that students from outside Dublin move on campus rather than people from the capital. Furthermore, Trinity is offering Scholars €2,215 in lieu of accommodation which usually costs around €8,300 per year. That’s a hefty saving for College who can bolster their finances by replacing the Scholars with paying students.
It seems obvious now that the decision to ask Dublin-based Scholars to forfeit their accommodation was more complicated than previously stated.
Trinity is headed toward tough times financially. Students will feel the pinch – as will staff. No one in College is under any illusions about that. Trinity needs to understand that this is not lost on the College community.
The Provost has been up front with the government in the past year about its need to pick a sustainable funding model. Now it’s time Trinity’s community was afforded similar treatment.
Trying to pull the wool over the eyes of students and staff will simply breed cynicism.