Maynooth University has “terminated” construction of a new student centre project due to rising costs, the third level institution has announced.
The decision has been criticised by students and their union, as the project was being funded through a €150 annual student levy since 2015.
Construction on the 3,700 sq m building was due to be completed by July 2023, but it was terminated on Monday following a decision by Maynooth University (MU)’s governing authority.
In a statement, the university said the project has been “adversely impacted by rapidly escalating costs, linked to technical construction issues as well as hyperinflation”.
“The university shares the disappointment of our students. MU, working in partnership with Maynooth Students’ Union (MSU), remains committed to providing students with additional spaces for informal learning and gathering that are so important for a vibrant campus experience,” the university said.
“In the weeks and months ahead, the university will be providing significant additional social spaces, meeting pods, and seating, furniture and other infrastructure in buildings across the Maynooth University campus.”
The statement said the university is “fully committed” to meeting the needs of students, adding it will continue to work with the MSU to “progress a longer-term vision for student facilities”.
The projects aimed to serve as a hub for MSU, and a focal point for student activities, a workspace for students engaged in clubs and societies, cultural, educational and recreational events and other activities.
Asked what would happen to the money, a spokeswoman for the university said the student levy fund “will not be affected by this decision” and “monies from the fund will not be lost because of the termination of the contract”.
The levy is, and will remain, ring-fenced for student facilities projects. In recent years the levy has funded projects including sports, student facilities and an extension to MSU building, and will continue to do so as a long-term solution to the Student Centre project is reviewed and addressed.”
The spokeswoman added that the university is obligated to public sector spending code rules and legislation for procurement, under which is a requirement that any increase in price shall not exceed 50 per cent of the value of the original contract.
“The fact that the latest project costs already exceed 50 per cent of the original contract was a key consideration for the Governing Authority decision,” she said.
MSU said it “condemns” the university’s decision to terminate the project, adding that its representatives “dissented from it [the decision] at every forum where we are a member”.
“This project was the flagship project to be funded by the student levy. Students have been paying this levy, in addition to the student contribution fee, since 2015 and disappointingly none of the student levy funded projects have been delivered in that time,” Niall Daly, president of MSU, said.
“This indicates yet again that students are not being prioritised by the university. While it may be of little consolation to students, MSU has secured commitments of additional facilities while we push for the delivery of a new student centre and other levy funded projects.”