Monday 27 March 2017

TCD angry at timing of plan to slash college head salaries

John Walshe Education Editor

THE Department of Education is going to slash pay for all new university bosses but existing presidents will retain their salaries, the Irish Independent has learned.

The current salaries range from €184,000 for the heads of the three smaller universities -- DCU, Limerick and Maynooth -- to €202,000 for the other four -- UCD, UCC, TCD and NUI Galway.

The cuts are expected to be around 10pc, similar to those made elsewhere in the public service. The pay cut was disclosed as TCD prepares to appoint a new provost.

A confidential email from the department has warned the college that if it pays the incoming provost the existing salary scale of €202,000, the payment will be "null and void".

This means the university cannot offer a salary without the permission of the department or the Higher Education Authority (HEA).

The email followed discussions between the department, the HEA, and Trinity's human resources department.

It warned Trinity that "pending a decision in relation to the remuneration for a future appointee to the post of provost in TCD, the university should, under no circumstances, make any commitment, either orally or in writing, to any proposed appointee".

Any promises given will be "null and void", the email says.

When it advertised the post, Trinity quoted the existing salary but the department feared this would mislead candidates into believing there would be no change in the current payment.

However, its 11th hour intervention has caused surprise and annoyance in Trinity, coming shortly before the new provost is elected in April.

The eligible electorate consists of around 700 voters, made up of academics, members of the college board and council and a number of students.

Many see it as interference with the college's traditional autonomy and independence which could cause embarrassment abroad, as one of the six candidates is from the UK. Four are internal and the sixth is Prof Des Fitzgerald, the UCD vice president for research.

Talks are to take place next week between the college and the department. Relations between the two are already strained over the college's decision to pay increases backdated to last month to 27 promoted staff.

The HEA has warned that it will 'dock' about €150,000 from the annual grant to the college unless it cancels the increased payment.

Irish Independent

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