The Student Consultative Forum has confirmed its Student Capital Fund (SCF) was oversubscribed for the first time in its history. The SCF provides yearly funding for capital projects, and is based upon an application process, which is not restricted to recognised clubs and societies. In total, the cumulative costs of grant applications made this year was €86,960. This was more than double the €41,000 available to applicants.
The funding scheme originated in 1990, when the Student Bar was making substantial profits, some of which was put into a student capital fund. Paddy O’Flynn, Director of the Student Consultative Forum, which administers the SCF, said that the bar became intertwined with UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU). The closure of the bar marked the end of finance for the fund. It has been able to survive up to the present based on its reserves and it being undersubscribed each year.
O’Flynn affirmed that “funding has been stable for the past five to six years and it hasn’t been reduced.” He acknowledged that the “funds given out nowadays from the SCF are quite small compared” to previous years. The SCF gave out £1,279, 718.11 in capital funding between 1993 and 2002. Almost £1 million of this went towards the construction of the Old Student Centre and renovations to the Student Club. In contrast, it awarded just under €100,000 in funding between 2010 to 2013. The SCF grant history suggests it is the sports clubs that are the primary beneficiaries, as very few of the societies are in the market for capital funds.
The standard procedure for the allocation of the grant is overseen by the Executive Committee, which considers the applications, while the final decisions on applications are made at the general meeting. Payments are then made through the Bursar’s Office.
This year’s general meeting, held on the 18th December 2014, raised concerns over the application process. It was chaired by Dominic O’Keefe, Head of Student Services for UCD. Normally, individual applicants would each make a written application in advance, and then make a presentation which the assembly would approve or reject. It is alleged that applicants were told just before the meeting whether they had been successful, before they had been given a chance to present their cases, resulting in it only being attended by representatives who were in line to receive funding. O’Flynn confirmed that “the Chairman put the set of decisions to a single vote without any application.”
Several applicants received the full amount they requested. Some received partial funding, while others were completely rejected. The American Football Club received money for uniforms, while the Sub Aqua Club received money for safety equipment. The University Observer was awarded funding of €2,325 for web and branding development. Eric Lucking, senior Treasurer of the UCD Sub-Aqua Club, commented on his club’s dealings with the fund. “We applied for €11,901.19 in our capital grant application from which we received €5,500. This money will go along way in helping us get to the highest safety standard that we constantly strive for at the club.”