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Only college boss who agreed to pay cut lost just €1,500

THE only leading academic in the country to agree to a request from Education Minister Ruairi Quinn to cut top salaries to €200,000 only had to give up €1,500.

And another college president who says he may also take the pay cut requested by Mr Quinn faces a €2,000 salary drop. But other colleges affected are refusing to say if their top staff will take a drop in wages, or reveal how much they earn.

Mr Quinn first wrote to the country's seven universities in July asking top earners to accept wage cuts in accordance with a new Government pay cap of €200,000.

The cap is for new recruits, and cannot be forced upon those currently in place.

The original request was followed up in October by a letter from Mr Quinn's secretary general, Brigid McManus. Excluding academic medical consultants, who are paid by the HSE and universities, there are currently eight university employees earning more than €200,000.

The Education Department says only one had agreed to Mr Quinn's request so far, with two rejecting it, and a further five yet to reply.

Trinity College Dublin yesterday said Provost Patrick Prendergast had a salary of €201,492 but brought it down to €200,000, in line with Mr Quinn's request -- making him the only person to do so.

Another staff member, Professor John Boland, is also on over €200,000 -- although the university would not reveal the exact wage.

"The Department of Education has been advised of their response," a Trinity spokesman said. "In the case of the Provost, I can confirm that he has taken a voluntary reduction -- his salary of €201,492 has been reduced to €200,000."

NUI Galway (NUIG) has only one employee on over €200,000, with President Jim Browne earning €202,117.

A NUIG spokesman said Mr Browne "will be making a positive response in the coming weeks".

University College Cork (UCC) spokesman said its salary information "is already in the public domain".

"The individuals will make their own decisions in this regard and the university will not be passing any further comment."

However, the university's president, Dr Michael Murphy, is the highest paid of all university presidents with a salary of €232,000.

He was recently embroiled in controversy when he said greater access to college was coming at the price of maximising the potential of the best students.

"It has become unpopular, indeed politically incorrect, to voice concerns about the needs of academically talented students" Dr Murphy said.

"Following expansion and democratisation of higher education, bringing into the universities significant numbers of academically weaker students, with greater need for more academic support from fewer available staff, our ability to maximise the talents of the intellectually gifted have diminished."

UCD has four members of staff earning more than €200,000 -- President Hugh Brady, Des Fitzgerald, vice president for research; Boris Kholodenko, deputy director of systems biology; and Eamon Drea, vice president for staff. A Belfield spokesman said "the university does not comment on individual contracts of staff".

It is understood that UCD salaries vary from €200,000 to just more than €250,000.

Irish Independent