We are back to college, after a whirlwind semester of online exams, “No Detriment” campaigns, and a heavy load of correspondence from the Provost, the library, and everyone in between. Students recognize the impact of COVID 19 and how it has affected student learning at Trinity. However, COVID 19 has had an economic impact on Trinity too and it continues to have one.
Firstly, the Book of Kells. Access to the Book of Kells is free for Trinity students, this may lead us to forget the value of it. According to Trinity’s Chief Operating Officer, the Book of Kells makes Trinity on average €12 million per year. This includes the gift shop and ticket admission. Not only this but there are indirect Trinity beneficiaries to this tourism that the Book of Kells attracts. Every Arts student can attest that there is at least a 2:10 tourist to student ratio on the queue to Perch café. The same is for tourists purchasing lunch at the Buttery. Trinity Tours also operates on campus and a large part of the income from these is given to Trinity.
As well as this, the inevitability of the reduction in international students will have a significant economic impact on Trinity. Currently, international students pay fees of almost €19,000 per year. International students may be discouraged from coming abroad due to fears of contracting the virus through their travels or because of a lack of exposure to the college over the course of the last academic year. Even prospective students may have intended to visit Trinity and get a deeper understanding of the culture on campus, but COVID 19 disrupted this. A point was made by the University Times about the competitiveness of Irish universities, including Trinity being impacted by online learning. They reference the fact that the chair of Science Foundation Ireland argues that online learning is not as strong in Ireland as it is elsewhere. With this continued emphasis on online teaching all around the world, if Trinity is not seen as a world leader from that vantage point, Trinity will lose admission from international students who saw themselves at Trinity due to its world-class teaching, as they are no longer world leaders in that area.
Lastly, the effect on accommodation is another economic impact of COVID 19 on Trinity. Students were instructed last semester before the summer break to vacate student accommodation unless they had to stay on due to the risk of homelessness or for critical research. This measure lost Trinity revenue as residents of Trinity Halls and Trinity campus rooms were given a lump sum to compensate for this. Trinity earns revenue through renting out its accommodation to young people visiting Ireland to learn Irish. For example, students of ATC Language school were due to be housed in Trinity Halls for their summer English-learning program, with Trinity earning income from this venture.
To conclude, not only has COVID 19 had an academic impact on Trinity, it has had an economic impact soon. In the coming months, let us hope that the situation improves.
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Yours in Learning,