Trinity College Dublin gets €100m backing for four capital developments

15 Oct 2018

From left: Ana-Maria Murphy-Teixidor, MSc student; Andrew McDowell, vice-president of the EIB; and Dr Patrick Prendergast, provost, TCD. Image: Iain White/Fennell Photography

Expansion of key engineering, law and arts buildings to take place at TCD.

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has confirmed it has agreed a €100m loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to facilitate expansion of teaching, research and student accommodation facilities at the university.

The 30-year loan covers capital developments at the city centre university, including the flagship E3 Engineering, Environment and Emerging Technologies initiative. Central to the vision of E3 is the construction of the Learning Foundry, a state-of-the-art 6,086 sq m facility based on the main TCD campus. It aims to deliver new teaching facilities and an innovative interactive learning space for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

‘New investment is crucial to continually strengthen research, educational excellence and world-class innovation, as well as provide students with skills for the 21st century’

The Schools of Engineering, Computer Science and Statistics, and Natural Sciences will share the new Learning Foundry, which will be a launch pad for a new kind of education experience for students with a focus on collaborative and project work. It will have capacity for 1,800 additional places for students of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) – this constitutes an increase of 50pc STEM places over 10 years.

Other capital developments will include the expansion of student accommodation at Trinity Hall in Dartry to house 300 new beds for students, as well as the expansion of the School of Law and the refurbishment of the Arts Block. The proposed student accommodation at Trinity Hall is in addition to the student residence that is currently under construction at the Printing House Square development on Pearse Street. This will provide accommodation for 250 students, as well as a student health centre, disability service centre and sports facilities.

Innovation quarter

The 30-year loan from the world’s largest internationally owned public bank will be used by TCD alongside other sources of financing, including philanthropic donations.

The financing follows on the heels of TCD revealing plans in recent months to build a €1bn all-new 5.5-acre campus in the proposed Grand Canal Innovation District, which will be modelled on innovation districts such as Cambridge Square in Boston as well as other similar districts in cities such as Toronto, Rotterdam and Barcelona.

The recent funding was announced during a visit to TCD by EIB vice-president Andrew McDowell, where he was welcomed by TCD provost Dr Patrick Prendergast.

“New investment is crucial to continually strengthen research, educational excellence and world-class innovation, as well as provide students with skills for the 21st century,” McDowell said.

“The impact of visionary investment can be seen here at Trinity College, the largest university beneficiary of European Investment Bank support in Ireland, where we have provided more than €245m for new investment over the last decade. In recent years, the EIB has supported transformational investment as [sic] all Irish universities, and EIB are pleased to continue our close cooperation with the sector with the new €100m loan agreed today.”

Earlier this year, the Naughton family made the single largest private philanthropic donation in the history of the State to the new E3 development by donating €25m. An additional €15m is being made available by the Department of Education and Skills. This funding will be provided through the Higher Education Authority.

“We are investing in educational and research facilities for the benefit of all our students and staff,” explained Prendergast.

“The financing EIB has provided to Trinity has been crucial in strengthening our research and education facilities. Without such support, we would not have been able to progress with important flagship projects such as E3 and much-needed student accommodation. Their support combined with important philanthropic fundraising are essential in building a better university for the benefit of all.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years