Maynooth University is one of Ireland’s youngest universities. It was founded as an independent university in 1997. The college recently celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2016, and have seen themselves raising their ranks.
At the time of writing, they are currently 49 on the 2017 Young University Rankings list, with more than 12,000 students.
However, there has been a distinct sense of unrest and frustration among students in Maynooth University this year as 2017 saw a 5% increase of undergraduate first years students, bringing the total up to 3,150. This comes after the removal of several of the college’s open spaces such as the Common Room and the Bunker, to make room for more lecture buildings.
The increased student number and the concurrent lack of open student spaces in which they can relax, eat and study have caused severe problems among students in the university. A final year Law student, who wishes to remain anonymous, is particularly frustrated with the facilities in the library saying, “to continue to accept (and push for) increased numbers of students when they very clearly don’t have the facilities to cater for them is really disappointing”.
The demand for seats and for desks with plugs has become a serious problem as “working and study throughout the day are dependant on free desks/plugs, it’s not appropriate that on particularly busy library days I have to spend additional hours in the evening or at weekends completing course work and study which I could easily complete during the day of the facilities were there”.
Rebekah Leamy, a second-year general science student, has also noted the increased strain the lack of seating available has on her college life, “last year we had the common room to not only relax in but it was a great place to be able to discuss course work and help each other with assignments”. She claims that “now even finding a space to go sit and eat lunch for 20 minutes is difficult… you could be looking for somewhere to just relax and get a bit of work done for over an hour”.
Some students are forced to sit on the ground in buildings as there is no other space for them to sit and eat, “usually a few of us just sit in Phoenix early in the morning or when we have no lectures if there’s tables free … if not we often see people sitting on the floor waiting for tables”.
Students have voiced their anger about the issue, and organised protests to demonstrate to the University their unhappiness at the situation. In response, the SU implemented alternatives to increase the amount of study space available for the students during the exam period. Empty lecture halls were opened up to study in and beanbags were brought back to the library – after a highly controversial move last year to remove the bean bag room for the Maths Support Centre.
However these solutions were only temporary, and the same problems remain now that exams are over. Many students believe that these construction moves are not done in the interests of the students, as many are left stranded, particularly commuters. Grace O’Shea, a final year Business and French student, has “seen a huge difference in the amount of students in Maynooth in the past year or so and despite this increase, facilities haven’t been provided to cater for the extra students. Especially as a commuter, the lack of seats is a major issue for me. Students who commute do not have the option to go home during breaks and therefore need somewhere to relax and destress between lectures.”
Both the SU President and Education Officer, Leon Diop and Niamh Halpenny, did not respond to a comment request.
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