MTU can’t easily borrow to build accommodation for students

Currently, MTU does not have any campus accommodation.
MTU can’t easily borrow to build accommodation for students

MUNSTER Technological University is still unable to easily borrow money to build student accommodation, as a borrowing framework is yet to be put in place for it to do so, despite formally being made a Technological University two years ago. Picture Denis Minihane.

MUNSTER Technological University is still unable to easily borrow money to build student accommodation, as a borrowing framework is yet to be put in place for it to do so, despite formally being made a Technological University two years ago.

The Technological Universities Act 2018 set out a process for Technological Universities (TU’s) to be formed, and provided rules around borrowing for newly formed TU’s. It stated that in order for a borrowing framework to be put in place, similar to that already in place for traditional universities, it must be approved by the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, and the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

However, for the five new TU’s across the country, including MTU, this borrowing framework has yet to be developed.

Currently, MTU does not have any campus accommodation. Vice President for External Affairs with MTU, Michael Loftus, said that for the current academic year, MTU’s Accommodation Office is working hard to maximise accommodation with third-party providers, as well as local homeowners renting out rooms. Mr Loftus said that until development of a borrowing framework, MTU does not have “ready access to borrowing opportunities to build student accommodation”.

“We very much look forward to the development of a comprehensive borrowing framework for technological universities as we are expanding rapidly and access to such a framework would enhance our ability to develop student accommodation and other facilities in line with our strong growth trajectory,” he said.

Correspondence revealed through FOI by Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould shows that TU heads met with the Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris in June. The yet-to-be-developed borrowing framework was highlighted as an action point following the meeting, with TU’s to engage with the department with viable proposals for student accommodation developments.

Deputy Gould said that the government now needs to “fast track” development of a borrowing framework for TU’s, so that they can begin capital projects to tackle the student accommodation crisis. 

“We know the urgent need for student accommodation. The college has to be given the opportunity to borrow the money to build the accommodation that’s needed, and the college want to do that,” he added.

A spokesperson for the Department of Higher Education said that the three departments are “committed to working with any viable pilot student accommodation proposals that emerge from the technological sector, and will progress a borrowing framework in that context”. They also highlighted that under current legislation, the Housing Finance Agency is able to lend to Technological Universities for the purpose of providing student accommodation.

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