Students face extra €50 cost for sports and recreation facilities

Students at University College Cork (UCC) could be paying an extra €50 a year to fund improved sports and recreation facilities if a vote that concludes today is passed.

The referendum to increase the student capitation is backed by the UCC Department of Sport and Physical Activity, and the university’s clubs executive which represents almost 60 student sports clubs.

If the referendum is passed, the €165 that undergraduates are currently charged in addition to their €3,000 annual fees would increase to €215.

Most of the current breakdown is a €115 charge which entitles students to free access to the Mardyke Arena’s gym, pool, athletics and other facilities.

The €40 that currently goes towards the loan that funded the Mardyke Arena would be added to the proposed €50 further charge.

The proposals for how the funding should be used include improving facilities planned for a UCC sports ground at Curraheen when a science and innovation park is built on the current site nearby.

UCC clubs executive president Michael Hanrahan said the extra money would allow most of the 13 pitches planned there to be floodlit, five could be synthetic instead of grass, and modern changing facilities and function rooms could be be built.

The money could also be used to support a planned new space for sports and a “chill-out” area at Mardyke Gardens near the Cork County Cricket Club grounds, where UCC has sought planning permission for tennis courts and cricket practice creases.

A further “chill out” zone is being proposed by proponents of the capitation increase for the unused Perrott’s Inch green area in UCC’s lower grounds.

Mr Hanrahan said that, as well as improving facilities for the students who are actively involved in physical activity, more green and recreational space can be provided for the entire student body to help mental health and wellbeing.

“A study last year found that 64% of Irish students are physically active. We’re trying to encourage the other 36% to be more active, and make the campus more healthy for everyone,” he said.

Students have also been voting yesterday and today on whether UCC Students’ Union should campaign for a united Ireland, as well as for next year’s union officers.

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