herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Students' union at UCD is €1m in debt

ONE of Ireland's biggest student unions has announced that it is to apply for a large bank loan after amassing debts of almost e1m.

University College Dublin (UCD) today confirmed that its student union would be seeking outside financial assistance as part of a major process in dealing with its debts.

In an email to its 25,000 students, seen by the Herald, UCDSU president Pat de Brun explained that a bank loan was favoured over a university "bail out" so as to preserve the union's independence.

"The process of accounts is not yet fully complete, but it is looking like it will be roughly €1m [in debts]. That means that we must make back over €1m to get the SU afloat and safe again. The union will be applying for a bank loan to repay this debt," the email reads.

On the issue of asking the University for financial assistance, De Brun states that "to be bailed out would cripple the union and still would not solve the issue of our services operating at an annual loss".

"Even if we were bailed out -- the cutbacks would have to occur," he added.

A spokesperson for the university told the Herald: "The university has been, and intends to be, fully supportive of the students' union in addressing the resourcing issues, and providing input into the work which has been undertaken by the firm of professional accountants."

The news of the large debts emerged in an interview de Brun gave to UCD's student newspaper, the University Observer.

He told the paper that the union is in the process of establishing a limited company, UCDSU Ltd, which will impose "legal and financial obligations".

And speaking to the Herald today, Mr de Brun admitted that the union has already started negotiations with potential lenders.

"This is a necessary move given the serious financial position of the union. The debts have been building up over a number of years," he said.

"It's very unfortunate that students have already suffered from serious cutbacks but we have a number of services that are losing money."

hnews@herald.ie

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