Trinity College Provost’s salary package breaches what the Department of Education had approved, at €201,000 a year. In comparison, the salary of the UCD President is €207,590, without perks.
An external audit seen by The Irish Examiner has found that the salary package of Trinity College provost breaches the approved limit set by the Department of Education. Dr Patrick Prendergast is paid €201,000 a year. In addition to this, he lives on campus in the Provost’s lodge. This counts as a benefit-in-kind that exceeds the amount that was approved by the Department of Education in 2011.
The Irish Examiner writes that the provost’s salary of €201,000 was approved by the Department of Education in 2011. However, while the salary is within the Department’s guidelines, the benefit-in-kind in the use of the lodge on campus was not approved by the Department. This has caused some concerns amongst senior college management and fellows about why this issue has only come to light after nine years.
Trinity College does not seem to view this breach of regulation as a major issue. In a statement, Trinity management responded that the monetary amount was “immaterial”, and the provost pays taxes on this benefit-in-kind. They said that it is a requirement for the Provost to live on campus and the utility bills paid by the college are also treated as a benefit-in-kind. “Like many other employees, the provost pays tax on this benefit-in-kind making the total remuneration appear to be higher. The provost is, however, paid the standard salary.”
In comparison to Dr Prendergast, the salary of UCD President Andrew Deeks was increased to €207,590 on the first of September 2019. There are over 32,000 students enrolled at UCD and only 17,000 enrolled at Trinity, which may suggest a larger workload. President Deeks is also required to live in an official college residence, the University Lodge on UCD campus. The President is required to pay normal tenant costs for the private aspect of the residence, while any costs relating to the lodge’s official use is paid for by UCD.
The heads of UCD and Trinity are not alone in their salary range, and some of the universities’ top researchers and academics are paid as much, if not more.
In higher education, it is not only the heads of universities who are receiving high salaries. In 2018, universities received approval from the government to recruit top academics with salaries of up to €337,000 a year. Usually, pay for public sector employees does not exceed the Taoiseach’s salary of €190,000 a year. However, universities can now seek approval on a case by case basis to pay academics these higher salaries. Jim Miley, the director general of the Irish Universities association has previously said that “Ireland needs to be able to compete for the best talent in the market if we want to be truly world class”.
In 2018, The Irish Times found that over 70 staff in third level colleges are paid over €200,000 a year. Many of these are academic medical consultants, who are paid by both the HSE and their third level institution. One of the top earners in higher education is the Deputy Director of the Systems Biology Centre in UCD, who earns over €336,927 a year, although some of this is in lieu of pension as he is not in UCD’s pension scheme.
Julia Brick – Reporter