Trinity College Dublin will generate €50 million in commercial revenues for the first time this year, its chief operating officer Geraldine Ruane has told The Irish Times.
This is almost twice the level of five years ago and reflects a move by the university to build on this stream of income to help eliminate its financial deficit at a time when government funding of the sector has been reduced.
“Five years ago we were bringing about €27 million or €28 million gross,” Ms Ruane told the Inside Business podcast. “This year we’ll hit the €50 million mark.”
She said its commercial activities will generate €28 million net this year to help fund Trinity's academic activities, including the recruitment of new professors. The Book of Kells visitor attraction and its gift shop generates about €12 million net for the college, with €10 million coming from accommodation and about €6 million from commercial deals, including a partnership with Bank of Ireland.
The college earns revenues from its 800 beds on campus, plus another 1,000 in Darty, south Dublin and 750 beds leased from third parties. “In the summer, those beds are open to the public and we’re the biggest hotel in Dublin,” she said.
“It has also allowed us to fund really strategic digital initiatives. And scholarships. Many of buildings are 100 or 200 years old and need a lot of maintenance. We are after putting €4 million into our arts building, for example. So the money goes back purely for the students and the academics to create a better experience for them.”
Ms Ruane said Trinity had not adopted a “hard-nosed” commercial approach to generating funding but instead was opening up its 45-acre campus to share the “assets that can generate income”. Government funding in recent years has reduced to 40 per cent of its budget from 60 per cent previously.
“For the financial year ending September 2018 we made a small surplus, five years ago it was a €22 million deficit,” she said.
Ms Ruane said two million people pass through Trinity’s campus in central Dublin each year, with about half of them visiting the Book of Kells.
Later this month Trinity will also open a new business school on the Pearse Street side of the campus. Ms Ruane said it would help cement its position as the leading business school in the country and hopefully help boost its global ranking.