DIT Aungier Street suffers the effects of Grangegorman’s development

The ‘Grangegorman Urban Quarter’ is a proposed education, health and community development by the Grangegorman Development Agency (GDA) for Dublin Institute of Technology and the Health Service Executive. The GDA was awarded funding to begin the construction of the new campus based off the back of the country’s €2.5 billion stimulus package.

The construction of the new DIT campus began back in 2013, with several listed buildings in need of extensive refurbishment. The buildings listed include those that will now accommodate up to 1,400 staff and students that would have moved into the campus in 2014.

Integrating over 20,000 staff and students and for the first time having all DIT activities which are currently spread over 39 different buildings into one campus is a long-awaited development. It will make for a much more appealing prospect for Leaving Cert students as they decide on where to undergo their third-level studies.

However, for those like myself who became a student of DIT Aungier Street back in 2015, it’s fair to say it does leave you feeling a little ‘hard done-by’. My 4 years of studies in DIT will all take place inside the walls of DIT Aungier Street, meaning I will not have the privilege of availing of the modern Grangegorman campus.

That said, I don’t feel this would be an issue if the facilities in the rest of the DIT locations remained to a certain standard. Especially when you’re forced to pay €3,000 to avail of them. Sadly however, this is not the case. Into my fourth year here in Aungier Street, and still the same problems occur now as they did on my first day attending the college.

“I attended my first lecture with a great amount of excitement. Sitting in a large lecture hall for the induction day, I expected a similar environment would greet me for each of my classes. However, I didn’t arrive to anything like the induction day. Instead, I arrived at quite a small classroom with roughly 25-30 computers with a seat at each one.”

Luckily, I was a couple of minutes early for this class because if you arrived on the hour or any time after that, you were left without a seat and had to sit on the ground or stand at the back. Whichever you preferred. Keeping in mind that a full attendance would have meant roughly 60 students were in a room with enough seats for 50% of the attendance, and it’s easy to realise the uncomfortable setting we were in on only our first day.

In one particular module I took in my 3rd year, there were only 12 computers which have a particular programme which we needed in order to complete our coursework. The problem here is that over 4 different years there are roughly 220 students who can be in need of using these computers at any given time. Particularly when there are deadlines to be met, this can cause quite a lot of unrest as the programme costs over €100 for its most basic package, with prices reaching as high as €2,555 for the more advanced versions.

This is still a common problem in DIT and the fact remains that most of the classes I have don’t have sufficient seating for the number of students attending the lecture, and even if they are lucky enough to pull a seat from another room, it still leaves them without a desk or computer to work at.

DIT say that during the period between 2010 to 2015 the state provided no money by way of devolved grant for the maintenance and the upkeep of any of the institute’s properties. As a result, this means that any small essential works were only those that could be funded from recurrent funding.

On top of the lack of seating, there is a severe lack of computers available in the library which are essential for students in college, especially towards the end of semester. The fact there are only sixty computers available at any given time is extremely disappointing. Even if you are able to find a free computer in the library, which is often full, there is also the chance that the free computer is not working which has been the case on many occasions. It’s extremely easy to feel as if the large fees you pay to attend the college don’t necessarily improve the facilities available for these reasons.

There is also the fact that our sports teams don’t have any facilities for training or matches on the campus. Instead, they must travel to Grangegorman, where state of the art facilities are now in place.

Over the last two years, the Department of Education and Skills has reinstated the Devolved Grant. This is limited funding which is provided to maintain all the Institutes of Technology (IOT). IOTs are categorised into three categories based on the number of students attending each IOT. With DIT being in the highest category, it meant that over the last years they have received around €900,000. This money has been more or less evenly split between building fabric (essential maintenance, lifts, fire safety, seat replacement, window blinds, etc.) and computer and ICT upgrades.

“Aungier Street represents approximately 20% of the total DIT estate and thus has benefitted from a “commensurate, if limited investment”, described as not adequate, as there is a backlog of essential repairs due.”

It’s quite evident the main authorities are aware that the current state of the DIT Aungier Street campus is not acceptable, and they clearly state that more funding would be required in order for them to maintain the campus at a more reasonable rate. However, it doesn’t take a genius to realise why there is such lack of funding, when there is €47.5M being provided to fund the Grangegorman campus.

The Grangegorman Development Agency (GDA) is the group responsible for the recent development of the impressive 73-acre site located in the North City Centre of Dublin. The reasoning behind the recently developed campus is to merge all the existing IOTs of this institute into one campus. In September 2014, 1,100 students were relocated to the Grangegorman campus. In September 2019, it is planned that a further 10,000 students will relocate to the campus and it is envisaged that the relocation of all students will be completed by the year 2021.

The opening phase of the Grangegorman project has been completed, with the institute committed to providing funding totalling €47.5M. Other public bodies have also contributed towards this cost with €11.1M of the total cost amount. In 2014, the institute paid €14.586M towards this total funding, and as of the 31st of August 2015, the institute paid amounts totalling €28.961M to the Grangegorman Development Agency. These payments made toward the GDA have been stated to be treated as “a long-term debtor” by the institute.

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