Today UL students will be asked to vote yes or no on the introduction of an annual student levy which will contribute to the development and build of a student centre. Claire O'Brien outlines the details of the referendum.
Today UL students will be asked to vote yes or no on the introduction of an annual student levy commencing in September 2017 to contribute to the development and build of a student centre, enhanced sports facilities and Maguire’s pitches upgrade, which will include two multi-purpose all-weather pitches.
 
If UL votes yes, the project development will begin in the academic year 2016-2017 and a levy will not be paid in that year. The levy will commence on a graduated basis in September 2017.  
 
Students will pay €36 in the academic year 2017-18 and academic year 2018-19, ie. 40% of the levy. The full levy, €90, will come into effect in academic year 2019-20. Thereafter a €2 increment will apply each year to offset inflation increases.
 
Academic Year Levy
2016-2017 €0
2017-2018 €36
2018-2019 €36
2019-2020 €90
2020-2021 €92
2021-2022 €94
2022-2023 €96
2023-2024 €98
2024-2025 €100
2025-2026 €102
2026-2027 €104
2027-2028 €106
2028-2029 €108
2029-2030 €110
2030-2031 €112
2031-2032 €114
2032-2033 €116
2033-2034 €118
2034-2035 €120
2035-2036 €122
2036-2037 €124
 
If UL votes no, the projects will not be undertaken and no levy will be introduced.
 
The total cost of the project is €28,590,000. If the referendum passes, UL have agreed to cover 45% of the capital costs as well as the maintenance and operational costs of the building. The remaining 55% will be covered by the student levy.   
 
It is estimated that the student centre building would be built within 3 years and Maguire’s pitches would be ready within 2 years.
 
The current Students' Union building was purpose built for 3,000 students.  UL’s student population has now grown to 13,647. This growth in population essentially means that we have outgrown the current student centre. 
 
A potential location for the centre has not been confirmed, however the centre will move towards the Plaza giving it a central location.
 
The SU aims to include a chill-out area, games room, SU Café as well as facilities to reheat food and make hot drinks, a suite of bookable meeting rooms, a creative hub and a multi-functional entertainment area for events such as music, big screen sporting occasions, guest speakers and the Comedy Club.
 
In order for the referendum to be valid at least 15% of the student population (2,047 students) must vote. A simple majority of the votes is needed for the referendum to pass.