University College Dublin (UCD) has spent €14.8 million on off-campus residential properties since the presidency of former UCD President Hugh Brady.
The College Tribune can reveal that UCD has purchased 19 residential properties in Dublin over the last 17 years at a total cost of just under €15 million. It is understood that this practice is part of a long-term plan to expand the boundaries of the UCD’s Belfield campus.
The Irish Times reported in February that UCD had been purchasing residential units in South Dublin for 4 to 5 years, but recent documents released to the College Tribune under the Freedom Of Information Act have shown that this policy has been in place before current UCD President Andrew Deeks came into office.
It is understood that the properties are rented to the public, generating income for the university. The College Tribune understands that the original units were funded using loans and the purchase of later units were funded by the revenue generated by the rental incomes of the college’s off-campus non-student residential portfolio.
The College Tribune has reached out to UCD for comment regarding these purchases. At time of publishing, they have not yet responded.
Minutes detailing a meeting of UCD’s Governing Authority on May 10th of 2019, show that President Andrew Deeks had authorised the purchase of two residential units on the edge of the Belfield campus. As reported by the Irish Times, these purchases were two of five units purchased for a combined €5.5 million between January 2017 and September 2019.
The minutes show that those residential units were purchased using “consolidated rental income cashflows from UCD’s residential properties”. Further, the minutes specify that this spending did not require approval from UCD’s finance committee as the individual purchases were all under the €1 million expenditure limits for the President.
A spokesperson for UCD has stated that “there is no connection between on-campus student rental income and any land or property [that] UCD has invested in”. During the time period where UCD spent nearly €15 million on residences not designated for students, the cost of UCD’s cheapest on-campus residences increased by more than 80%. UCD plans to increase the cost of all on-campus residences by 12% over the next three years.
Similar practices are on-going in other campuses across Ireland. On April 1st, the Irish Times reported that Trinity College Dublin had spent €16 million buying office space in the IFSC after renting the property for a number of years. Commonly known as the AIB Trade Centre, the “Stack B” building that overlooks George’s Dock on the banks of the Liffey was purchased for just €7.9 million in 2012.
Hugh Dooley – Reporter