UCD’s estimated budget outturn for 2011/12 has shown that the University made a surplus of €3.3 million for the financial year ending September 30th 2012. This surplus means UCD’s overall accumulated deficit has been reduced to €3.2 million for the financial year that began October 1st 2012.
The University hopes that by the end of the current financial year, September 30th 2013, that it will have cleared its deficit entirely. A spokesperson for the University stated: “The University has been aiming to reduce its budget over a number of years by a number of measures, including cost control and income generation. The university expects to clear the remaining deficit in this financial year. The level of cuts will depend on actual State funding and the expansion of the income base.”
This marks the fourth year in succession that UCD’s deficit has been significantly reduced and according to the President of UCD Dr Hugh Brady, it “represents remarkable achievement given huge cuts in State funding in recent years.”
Cutting the University’s deficit has been part of a ‘Five Year Planning Process’ that began in 2008 and introduced a number of focus groups to research methods of doing this. These groups looked at improving the University’s income from sources outside of the State, including increasing summer campus accommodation fees and restricted access deals with external companies; staff cost reductions with a policy of non-recruitment and a number of voluntary redundancies; non-staff cost reductions such as seeking rebates and discounts from the University’s largest suppliers; and strategic measures, such as attracting more graduates to study at UCD, and more international students across the board. According to Dr Brady, this final measure is on track, stating: “Overseas fee income continues to grow and is ahead of target for the 2011/12 year.”
From 2008-2011, funding from the State has been cut by over €60 million, marking a 33% cut in funding per student, along with approximately 10% cut in University staff. In addition, the non-exchequer component of the University’s turnover has risen from 36% to approximately 44%.
Reducing the University’s deficit has seen numerous cuts to student services over the last number of years, including cuts to student desk hours, the abolition of reception desks in each building, and cuts to library funding, which has prevented the library from purchasing necessary textbooks for students.
It has also resulted in reduced library opening hours. Before the start of term this year, the decision was taken by the University to cut Sunday library opening hours, at a saving of €14,000 to the University, per semester. This move was condemned by UCD Students’ Union, with President Rachel Breslin commenting: “I do think it’s a very serious issue. A 7-day library is something that is so important for a university of our standard and our academic ambition.”