Referendum on Student Levy FAQ’s
Does the University have a loan for the Sports Centre?
There was no loan to build the Sports Centre. The portion of construction costs to be covered by the student levy was €15.7m. Upon completion of the Sports Centre, the University paid this money from its reserves and is being “re-paid” by the student levy every year. The only loan was from the university to itself. The University than applied a 5% interest rate. In March 2019, after enquiries from the Students’ Union, the University reduced the interest rate to 1.704% which is in line with actual loans the university has from the European Investment Bank.
Is the proposed levy a breach of contract?
There was no contract. The terms of the levy were payment for a period “not to exceed eighteen years”. Four years after the referendum, the 5% interest rate was added by the University. This was outlined at meetings of the Finance Resources Committee. The Students’ Union has one of thirteen seats on that committee. The University claims that because the interest was described at that committee, and because the SU President sits on that committee, it forms an “implied contract”. However, there is no record of any agreement that a 5% interest charge would be paid by students. The notion of an implied contract is simply ridiculous.
Won't the university have to cut funding to cover the "bad debt"?
There is no bad debt because there is no debt. The University has collected €20.9m to cover a €15.7m cost. If the University has forecasted an additional €5.5m income from the student levy, this is a mistake that can be corrected on its own books. It already wiped €1.5m off the imaginary debt when it dropped the interest rate in 2019. What cuts were implemented to cover that?
Threatening cuts is just scaremongering by the University. The Sports Centre contributes €100k to the university in licence fees (similar to rent) every year. Where are the additional services provided by that? Over €250k is collected by the University in fines for the late payment of fees. Where are the additional services provided by that?
The University has reserves in excess of €200m. Don’t be fooled by the suggestion that university management will need a begging bowl because students have figured out that the €100 sports centre levy is no longer required.
How will Áras na Mac Léinn manage? Don't we need to fund that building?
The Áras na Mac Léinn levy was introduced in the late 1990’s to pay for the construction of Áras na Mac Léinn. The current AML Levy is to contribute to the running costs of the building. However, the fund is generally used for lots of other costs. Also, it seems strange to directly charge students for the running cost of one particular building. The University funds the running costs of all other buildings.
Will the student projects fund disappear?
The Project Fund is currently funded by the University (€500k), the Student Levy (€321k) and a contribution from licence fees, similar to rent, paid by Students’ Union services (€60k). Although the Project Fund provides support to many popular services, these services should be provided without students paying an annual levy. The proposed levy will reduce the student contribution from €321k to €82k. There is no reason for the university to reduce its funding and the contribution from Students’ Union Services will also remain. In total, the Project Fund will still have €612,000 to spend every year. Clubs and Societies activities will still benefit from the Project Fund – in addition to the extra funding which they will receive.
Why am I only hearing about it this year? Has the SU raised this with the university before now?
The Student Levy has been an issue for many years. The past four SU Executive Committees have raised the issue of the sports centre element of the levy in particular, but with limited success. In March 2019, the university did reduce the interest rate is charges from 5% to 1.704%. Last year, a Working Group was formed to review the levy and in the past year the SU conducted a survey of students to gather further information. In November 2020, SU Council mandated the Union to call a referendum with the proposed levy. The University’s only suggestion was to reduce the sports centre element of the levy, but to charge it for a longer period.
Where can I find more information on the Student Levy?
You can find a copy of the NUI Galway Student Levy Report HERE
Where can I find more information on the NUI Galway Sport Centre Levy?
You can find a copy of the NUI Galway Sport Centre Levy Report HERE