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We pay college fees of lecturers' children

TAXPAYERS are paying hundreds of thousands of euro every year for the children of highly-paid university staff to go to college.

The full cost of the perk was exposed today, with revelations that it came to €240,000 last year at one third-level institution alone.

It is estimated the full cost of the waiver was more than €730,000 in 2011.

Opposition politicians branded the system "unacceptable" and highlighted the "inequality" of ordinary families on low incomes having to pay the fees while lecturers do not.

Under the fee remission scheme, every permanent staff member at an Irish university, who was employed before September 30, 1992, can have their children educated for free.

It covers registration fees at undergraduate level as well as costly postgraduate charges.

The scheme means that the children of staff members at Trinity College, UCD, NUI Maynooth, UCC or NUI Galway can study in one of these universities for free.

Struggling

An example would be the child of a Trinity lecturer studying a PhD at UCD and getting their fees covered by the taxpayer.

Professors at the two institutions get paid more than €138,000 a year, while senior lecturers get more than €89,000.

It is "unacceptable" that families struggling on low or middle incomes have to pay "the full whack", while college lecturers do not, Sinn Fein's education spokesman Sean Crowe said.

"It highlights the inequality within the system itself and it needs to be looked at," he added.

Mr Crowe said he has also expressed concern to Education Minister Ruairi Quinn over the salaries of the heads of the universities.

"It's not only the salaries, it's the other perks as well -- the free house, the expenses. It seems very odd at a time when he is cutting funding for students that the likes of this is happening in the system," the Dublin South West TD said.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act showed that 480 employees at Trinity are entitled to the perk.

In 2011, Trinity staff benefited to the tune of €152,087.

Some €74,156 was claimed for undergraduate registration and course fees, while more than €33,000 was for postgraduate charges.

A total of 431 UCC staff are entitled to the waiver, with the cost coming to €240,000 last year. The cost at NUI Galway was €185,770 last year, though the figure did not include a further €25,976 for fees other universities.

NUI Maynooth (€69,175) and UCD (€66,616) also waived substantial sums, according to the data published in the Irish Examiner. There were also waivers for the children of staff at DCU (€21,000) and University of Limerick (€2,680).

comurphy@herald.ie


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