Trinity’s School of Nursing and Midwifery is rapidly outgrowing the space available in its D’Olier St building, a new report has found, leaving open the possibility that the school may move to the College’s Technology and Enterprise Campus (TTEC).
The report, which was carried out by the College’s Quality Office, stated that “space and facilities for teaching and research are of critical concern”, with lecture theatres in particular having insufficient capacity.
In an email statement to The University Times, College Bursar Veronica Campbell said: “As per the Estates Strategy, a long-term solution to meet future requirements of Nursing & Midwifery may be delivered by the TTEC site.”
Campbell said that “such a proposal would require a detailed plan to be approved by Board in the context of the Trinity’s priorities for the site”.
The report found that, as the number of those studying nursing and midwifery increases rapidly, students are frequently being required to attend lectures in an “overspill room”, watching the lecture by video link.
The report, which was carried out by the College’s Quality Office, stated that “space and facilities for teaching and research are of critical concern”
Currently, the largest lecture theatre in D’Olier St can hold 230 students, while the school’s largest modules have over 300 students enrolled.
The external review – led by Prof Patricia Davidson from the John Hopkins University in Baltimore – stated that the arrangement “limits student learning and experience” and recommended that “alternatives for space need to be considered”. Expansion of the school’s current home on D’Olier St, however, is not an option, as it listed as a protected building by Dublin City Council.
Some nursing and midwifery lectures now take place in the Arts Block, and the school has earmarked the new Business School for lectures as well.
Speaking to The University Times, Prof Anne-Marie Brady, the Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, said that the school is “working closely with the Bursar” to find solutions to the space issues.
“We are part of that strategic activity to try and see where we’re going”, Brady said.
“We’re about to redevelop our strategic plan, so we’re looking at space as being one of our priorities for the future, and the College is supportive of that”, she added.
Nursing and midwifery students rotate between a number of different campuses as they juggle clinical and skills laboratory sessions with lectures and tutorials. This, according to Brady, makes timetabling difficult.
“[We] can’t simply say ‘we’ll take the arts block for two hours’ because it may have enormous implications for the movement of students. What we need is access [to a lecture theatre] for a day so we can plan”, she said.
We’d like a better building, but … all of us make compromises
College has been very facilitative of the need to expand, Brady said. “We value our position in Trinity … they’ve given us a lot of opportunities.”
The report also said nursing and midwifery students want to have a “Trinity experience” during their studies. Brady said that “the city-centre location is important to students”.
She said that moving out of the city centre to a more spacious location would diminish this experience. “We’d like a better building, but … all of us make compromises.”
Brady also said that the school’s central location makes it an attractive place to host meetings with other universities and colleges, as well as the HSE and the Nursing Board.
Brady said that students in the School of Nursing and Midwifery do feel somewhat detached from the College as a whole, but this is not a result of their lectures being located outside the main campus.
“I don’t think it’s the geographical thing. It’s about the requirement for clinical hours [making] it more difficult for them to be ‘in’ the College”, she said.
Speaking to The University Times, School Manager Frank O’Rourke said that the school is keen to get student feedback when making decisions.
“It’s a very positive environment here”, he said. “We redeveloped the foyer over the last couple of years based on student feedback.”
Brady also said that this was “a very positive development”. After the closure of Gas cafe in the building, she said, it became clear that a commercial model for student catering “didn’t work”.
“What we understood from consultation with our students is that they’re on a price budget, and they want to be able to cater for themselves”, she said. Microwaves and hot water geysers have since been installed in the foyer, as well as several large tables with plugs for laptops.
Brady said the foyer has become a “natural” workspace, which is “very effective” for both students and staff.
“It’s one of the best parts of the building,” she said, “and it was student-driven”.