University College Dublin has issued a public tender to Ireland’s biggest banks as AIB’s time in Belfield has come to an end after 22 years with the campus bank being empty for the first time since 1973. Speaking to the College Tribune, AIB has confirmed that they opted not to “renew their lease of the UCD premises” leading to their on-campus branch closing in June.
Following the closure of the campus bank, UCD issued a public tender saying that they are “very interested in meeting with the banking sector to listen to their views of how both parties could work together for mutual benefit.”
It is unlikely that another bank is going to take the place of the outgoing bank tenants as UCD have admitted that “The previous model was to have a branch on-site, however, our research has shown that this may no longer be attractive to the industry with the growth of online and internet banking services.”
With the growth and improvement of online banking services, UCD believes that financial institutions may have revised their preferences on “how to leverage a relationship with UCD”. As a result of this suspected change, UCD is requesting to hear ideas from the banking sector on how to move forward in “select[ing] one bank to work with.”
College campuses such as UCD’s have long been seen as a lucrative space for banks to have a space in due to students being seen to be a profitable long-term customer base for financial institutions. A spokesperson for AIB explained why the bank is moving away from an on-campus approach saying; “our campus strategy has been evolving due to rapid digital adoption and decreasing branch footfall which predates Covid.”
Before AIB took over the campus bank space, Bank of Ireland had operated the banking service on the Belfield campus for almost 26 years from March 1973 until February 1999. AIB was originally awarded a ten-year lease of the building but remained on-campus for 22 years. In 2014, AIB renewed their partnership with UCD for seven years upon the refurbishment of its now-abandoned student branch.
Now AIB has stated that they have “relocated from its on-campus UCD branch to its Clonskeagh Road branch”. With AIB gone, their office space has been reallocated to serve as the construction office for the ongoing work being carried out by Kilwex Civil Limited.
Hugh Dooley – News Editor