New and Improved Student’s Union.
From 2004, the Student’s Union has been undergoing a major re-development, and finally the work is coming to an end. It is stated that from the re-development of the building there has been new front elevation on university road, new side elevation along Elmwood, with new entrances at both sides of the building. The project also included work to the Mandela Hall and Bunatee Bar, which provides venues for many nights of entertainment throughout the year, for students of QUB and other universities. Additionally, internal work to the building includes new shop units and restaurants where students can shop and relax, at discounted student prices. Many of the Clubs and societies, which are run through Queen’s University will also benefit from the re-development as the 3rd floor of the building is now solely dedicated to their use.
Whilst this all sounds extremely impressive, it has not come without major financial backing. In round figures, the re-development is said to have cost £9 million. The University has provided £2 million of this money, £1 million has come from the Student’s Union reserves and £0.5 million has come from statutory government money. However, a massive £5.5 million has been borrowed by the Union, and according to Student Union Manager, Barney Hughes, it could take up to 25 years for the debt to be cleared.
Although it is evident that the Student’s Union was well overdue a face-lift, it has yet to be seen if this re-development is worthy of the major expense. Ben Preston, Student Union President, is adamant that the re-development was necessary. He stated that the building would provide many benefits for QUB students, as there are “brand new facilities in a Student’s Union we can be proud of”. However, when questioned about the educational benefits for students, Preston hinted that there are only indirect benefits regarding academic education, as he is “keen to look at development opportunities outside the classic academic role the University provides.” He believes that the new and improved Union will be able to provide rounded experience for all students.