Student numbers in UCD continued to climb throughout the 1950s, and the university's perennial problems of overcrowded lecture rooms and limited financial resources became a subject of humour in Dublin Opinion. From 3,115 students in the 1950-51 session, the number had increased to 4,768 by 1959.
In 1951 the UCD Governing Body resolved that the best interests of the university would be served by developing on the lands around Belfield in south Dublin, and a building plan was prepared in 1955. Throughout the decade the university remained in constant communication with the government about the urgent need for new buildings. At the same time it was renovating and rebuilding parts of the existing buildings in Earlsfort Terrace and Merrion Street to provide interim teaching and research facilities and prevent 'a complete breakdown of teaching'. Government funding was given for the acquisition of Merville estate in 1951, and other estates neighbouring UCD's grounds in Belfield were acquired in the following years. In June 1959 the government agreed in principle to the gradual transfer of the college to the lands at Belfield.