Students’ Union President, Pat de Brún, recently revealed that the SU is up to €1 million in debt, reports Katie Hughes.
The compiling of accounts, which has been taking place for the past few months, is expected to be completed in the next three weeks. These accounts will include all of the management accounts for the last number of years.
According to de Brún, the SU will be applying for external financing from a bank. “We’ve had provisional talks but until we have our full accounts ready we can’t progress with negotiations.” The Union will be seeking to refinance the majority of the sum.
Despite promises to do so, a budget was not released at the end of Semester One. De Brún explains that “having spoken to the sabbatical team about it and the Exec, we’d prefer to have a real, one hundred per cent accurate budget and I want to wait until the accounts are available so that everything is one hundred per cent accurate.”
The SU is currently in the process of drafting a new constitution, in which they intend to place several measures to ensure financial viability and proper management of accounts. These will include a necessity to have accounts audited every year and “just more robust systems behind [the] management of accounts.”
The establishing of UCDSU Ltd is almost complete, “[we’re] finalising who the directors will be and it’s pretty much ready to go. It’s a straightforward enough exercise once that’s done.”
De Brún stated that the Union “has been making a huge effort to save money across the board this year, in light of the difficult circumstances.”
Cuts have been made across the Union’s activities: “our support staff costs have been cut back massively, saving an estimated €55,000 over the course of the year. On class rep training we saved roughly €5,000. We’ve spent thirty-five per cent less than this time last year on class party drinks tokens. We also saved €4,000 on the Freshers’ Guide. Our transport and exam costs are down by around €11,000. We spent €5,000 on the national campaign this year in comparison with €20,000 last year. Officers have had a reduction in budgets of around forty per cent on average so far.
“These are just a few examples that spring to mind and the total figure is much more. Despite the large savings, I believe that most of the money saved has been through efficiencies, with as little impact as possible on students.
“Essentially, we have been trying to save money in everything we do. All spending is only approved if necessary and costs such as printing are also way down. This is an extremely testing time for the Union and we are coping as best we can with the reduced resources at our disposal.”