UCD Students’ Union (SU) have commissioned an independent report into a “substantial” financial loss made by the UCD Ball 2014.
UCDSU President Feargal Hynes has cited poor attendance as a primary factor, saying “Sales figures didn’t compare at all. They were down, big time. We made a substantial loss on the Ball.” Hynes adds that while results from the 2013 event were in line with budgeted figures, with a “manageable loss” made, this year’s event made a loss that was “far greater”.
The annual event has taken place in Dublin’s O2 venue since Gardaí refused a license to host the event on campus in 2013. Hynes has pointed to a widely-felt sentiment that students have not wanted the ball in an off-campus venue and that while “they never came out in force against, they just weren’t for it.”
Mazars, an international audit and accounting firm, were commissioned to create an independent report on the losses after the report was tendered to Mazars, PwC and Grant Thornton. Hynes has justified the expenditure made on the report, saying “We want to be as accountable as possible and that’s why we’ve formalised all of our procedures and our board, and had continuous improvement in all that we do. If we didn’t do it, we wouldn’t be following through in the most accountable way, so that wasn’t even an option.”
Figures relating to the loss and the cost of the report will not be available to the public until the publication of the SU’s end of year results. Hynes has said that a summary of the report is expected to be published in the coming weeks.
Recommendations made by the report included working to increase student engagement with the SU, better risk management in relation to the event, and to aim to improve reporting structures within the SU. The report has also recommended an amalgamation of the UCDSU’s Board and Finance Committee.
Hynes said that the most important finding of the report was that “the venue is the unique selling point of the UCD Ball” and that it would be difficult for a financially responsible SU “to be investing such sums of money into a ball if it’s not in UCD.”
Returning the UCD Ball to an on-campus venue was a central promise of Hynes’ election campaign and one to which he is still committed. Gardaí have been kept informed of efforts made to ensure student safety at the UCD Ball, and Hynes points out that the 2014 event had “no major incidents, especially related to alcohol.” While no response has been received from Gardaí, Hynes said that there is an expectation to sit down for discussions with them in the coming months.