We will secure the financial basis for our future development.Goal 9
The university’s financial position has improved significantly over the last five years due mainly to successful strategies for generating non-exchequer revenue. However, there are still major challenges in achieving the income required for a globally-competitive research university. Significant additional funding will be required from the Government to address the shortfall in public funding per student which has reduced significantly in recent years and to meet anticipated growth in demographic and participation rates. Exchequer income has declined from 70% of the university’s total income in 2008 to 40% in 2018 and the financial outlook for the university will continue to remain uncertain unless the Government commits to long-term funding or else lifts the cap on undergraduate student fees. Furthermore, a globally- competitive research university needs a national R&D funding environment where its academic staff can compete for research contracts: Ireland’s public funding of research is very low by international standards and has fallen by 21% since 2008.
Notwithstanding these challenges, we remain committed to the university’s mission to deliver research of international impact, and to a student experience underpinned by quality teaching and access to the best student services. We will continue to invest strategically in world class infrastructure and facilities which will underpin our growth and drive future success. We have invested over €180m over the last three years and currently have over €300m in capital projects in the pipeline. These investments, funded mainly by philanthropic support and long-term financing from our partners in the European Investment Bank, will deliver financial returns in line with carefully planned and managed business cases. In addition, we are also committed to delivering longer term strategic investments such as the new Trinity @ Grand Canal Quay campus on the TTEC site and the Old Library refurbishment. We will continue to focus on our core strategy of growing non- exchequer income across four key engines – research income, global relations, commercial revenues, and philanthropic income. We will also continue to focus strongly on improving efficiency in our operations and support functions and reducing operating costs through investment in best- in-class IT systems and processes.
As a core element of this Strategic Plan, we are committed to a step change in improving the quality of the student experience in the university. We are committed to prioritising the financial resources needed to significantly reduce the student:staff ratio and we will carefully manage growth in student numbers in the various categories of undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research students to ensure that the quality of student experience is maintained as the core objective.
In support of the Strategic Plan, we have developed a comprehensive 5-year financial model which includes full costing of strategic initiatives and provides a fully integrated view of income, costs, investments, financing and cashflows for five years to 2025. This financial model is a key enabler in facilitating the development of scenarios for growth and investment and for the assessment of key sensitivities and risks in the plan, as our 5-year financial plan will inevitably need to be adapted for economic and other factors over time.
- 9.1Have funding, including philanthropy, in place for investment of €300m over the next five years in new infrastructure projects set out in the Strategic Plan, including the Martin Naughton E3 Learning Foundry, a new Law School, and student accommodation facilities in Printing House Square and at Dartry. We are also committed to investing in longer term strategic projects such as the new Trinity @ Grand Canal Quay on the TTEC site and the Old Library refurbishment and are currently evaluating funding options to support these projects. [ES; E3; FSD; LSDP; T@GCQ; TDA]
- 9.2Achieve financial sustainability through annual net surplus (before unrealised gains and losses) of 1% of income from 2020 onwards with targeted EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, Amortisation) growth from 3% to 8% of income by 2025 to cover annual costs associated with our capital investment programme. [FSD]
- 9.3Grow student numbers (which underpin income growth), in line with the Global Relations Strategy 3, which includes targeted growth in postgraduate student numbers from 28% to 32% of total student base over five years and growth in non-EU student numbers from 15% to 18.5% by 2025. [GRS3]
- 9.4Grow the value of philanthropy to the university as a method of diversifying our income stream. [TDA]
- 9.5Continue to plan for a reduction in the university’s reliance on exchequer income and anticipate an increase in non-exchequer income from 60% in 2019 to 65% in 2025. [FSD]
- 9.6Achieve a reduction in the student:staff ratio, from 18:1 in 2019 to 16:1 by 2025, and ensure that financial resources are prioritised towards delivering this goal. [VPO; FSD; DR]
- 9.7Ensure net assets of the university are maintained at a minimum level of €800m over the period of the plan. [FSD]
- 9.8Continue to ensure that financing structures are optimised over the period of the plan and that we will fully comply with our banking covenants, maintaining headroom on minimum cash levels, gearing ratios and debt servicing capability. [FSD]
- 9.9Continue to be flexible and adaptable to economic conditions in managing the finances of the university, and meeting opportunities to enhance the academic mission as they arise. [FSD; VPO; CSD; DR]