Thursday 27 April 2017

Academic pay of €113,000-plus far outstrips worldwide average

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

HUNDREDS of Irish university professors are paid €100,000-plus salaries that far outstrip their counterparts in the US, Britain and Canada.

They are paid on a six-point salary scale which ranges from around €113,000 to €146,000.

This salary scale is far in excess of what is available to professors in Canada, who are paid between €61,000 and €83,000. They are also ahead of many of their colleagues in England, with professors in University College London paid salaries ranging from €67,000 to €124,000. And Irish professors are also better paid than those in the North, with professors in Queen's University Belfast earning salaries of between €65,000-€129,000.

The lowest salary for our professors of €113,000 is also way ahead of the average salary of €79,000 paid to professors in the US -- although this figure does not include additional payments for summer teaching and administrative expenses.

Irish university academics used to justify the fact they were paid more than their international counterparts by citing the higher cost of living here. However, the cost of living has dropped sharply due to the economic recession.

The information on salaries is contained in a document prepared by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) for the Dail's Public Accounts committee, which has been investigating several academic pay controversies including:



  • The 177 unauthorised salary top-ups given by universities to senior management staff over a 10-year period before they were obliged to stop them in 2009.
  • The University of Limerick's decision to pay three people presidential salaries of €228,050 each, at the same time, over a two-year period.

Academics working in Irish universities have salaries linked to civil and public service grades and they have received pay increases in line with national agreements. But the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) said the salaries were also reduced by up to 20pc by the public sector pay cuts and the public sector pension levy.

IFUT general secretary Mike Jennings said that if salaries in Ireland were as attractive as they seemed, universities would be "inundated" with applications from abroad.

"There's always an apparent advantage to the Irish rates until you start drilling down in to it. They don't reflect the cost of living, health services and public transport," he said. The hundreds of professors and thousands of lecturers represented by IFUT voted against accepting the Croke Park deal, which would have protected their pay.

But Mr Jennings said there was a willingness among academic staff to renegotiate the working hours and conditions regardless -- and said he would be amazed if their pay was cut in next month's Budget.

Crucifying

The annual cost of pay for all staff in the third-level sector is €1.3bn. Meanwhile, the Government is considering re-introducing third-level fees in next month's Budget -- which will add to the cost of going to college for many families.

Fine Gael education spokes- man Fergus O'Dowd said that it was time for Education Minister Mary Coughlan to get more efficiencies in the university sector without "crucifying" families.

"Everybody has to get back to basics and the university presidents and managers and professors must do the same," he said.

Mr O'Dowd said many of the families facing the threat of third-level fees or increased student registration charges were now in poverty.

Irish Independent

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