‘Historic’ decision will change how Limerick city centre and university develop

Jess Casey

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Jess Casey

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jess.casey@limerickleader.ie

‘Historic’ decision will change how Limerick  city centre and university develop

Dr Stephen Kinsella: "One of the things I see as really, really important on an institutional level is that UL will now share the city’s concerns in a really deep way"

THE University of Limerick locating a campus in the city centre will be seen as an “historic” moment for Limerick’s development, a leading economist believes.

Dr Stephen Kinsella, associate professor of economics at UL, believes the development of the new campus at the long vacant Dunnes Site on Sarsfield Street will have significant impacts on both the city and the university. 

“When you put it into its proper historical focus, the university is only 42 years old and the city is only 1,000 years old, it’s a really big deal,” Dr Kinsella said. 

“I think it will be seen as significant because it will change the development of the university and the city.” 

“We are the University of Limerick - we are never not going to be the University of Limerick. We are here for centuries and we should think about it on that timescale.”

Dr Kinsella stressed that it is not the case that Limerick isn’t a university town already, but that the new campus “just increases that”. 

“We know that what cities need to thrive is footfall, and this will bring footfall into the city in an enormous way. We are talking about thousands of students and a comparable amount of staff.

“Universities tend to be places where events are held, so you are talking about bringing more life into the city during each semester, and then events as well. 

“One of the things I see as really, really important on an institutional level is that UL will now share the city’s concerns in a really deep way,” Dr Kinsella added. 

“A very simple example; the UL president recently made a statement about bus lanes. There’s a reason for that - now bus lanes are our problem. We need better transport links because we need to get in and out to this building in the city centre. 

“The most important thing from the university’s perspective is that we know we are going to have a move towards lifelong learning. I would really like to see who we educate and what we educate them changing in the city.”

Dr Kinsella identified the university’s key demographic as people from the age of 18 to 26 and said it would be great if it could move into a space where it was educating people across the entire lifecycle.

“I would like us to have students, and we already do, in the city who are 18 to 81 years old. I would like us to have a far deeper connection to industry. Having a city centre campus makes these kind of connections far more convenient to make.” 

“I’d like the building itself to be a statement. UL have done this extremely well down through the years. I really, really hope that we can have a statement building or a series of buildings that are tall. I would love if we could build the tallest building in the city.”