The top 100 best-paid in education


At a time of unprecedented budget cuts and the possible return of third-level fees, SEAN FLYNNand PETER MCGUIREreveal the salaries of the highest earners in Irish education

OVER 75 per cent of the €8.59 billion education budget is absorbed by pay and pensions. This means that all other education services must be funded from the €2.14 billion non-pay element of the budget. Overall, Ireland has one of the lowest levels of education spending in the OECD. It is ranked close to the bottom of international league tables when it comes to spending in relation to GDP.

The consequences of this under-investment are evident throughout the sector. It can be seen in dilapidated classrooms, lack of adequate support for information technology, meagre investment in early childhood education, lack of basic school facilities, and so on.

But a striking feature of the Irish education service is the relatively high rates of pay for academics and bureaucrats – especially at senior levels.

Today’s survey of the high earners in education comes amid increasing calls for a €100,000 cap on public service salaries. Many of those featured on this page point out they have already taken pay cuts and absorbed the public service pension levy. The universities say they need to pay the best to attract the best. But the top earners also include senior figures from the huge number of education quangos.

In all, more than 60 staff in the education sector earn more than €150,000, according to The Irish Times survey. A further 476 staff earn more than €110,000. In all, 497 people are on the professorial salary scale, €113,573–€145,952.

The education sector has 95,554 full-time staff – about 27 per cent of total public sector employment. Of these, 59,000 are teachers, 10,400 are special-needs assistants and 20,000 work in third-level colleges. The cost of teacher salaries is €2.1 billion at primary and €1.9 billion at second level. The cost of pay in the university/IT sector is €1.3 billion.

A further €62 million is spent on pensions to 22,700 education staff in primary, second-level and in ITs.

Inevitably, there are other top earners within the system whose names do not feature on today’s list – some third-level colleges and other educational bodies were more cooperative than others when it came to disclosing salary details.

The figures in this survey were compiled by Peter McGuire


Vice-president for research, UCD


Fitzgerald may be Ireland’s highest-paid academic but he has actually seen his salary fall from €409,000 in the past year, as UCD came under pressure to justify his exceptional pay packet.

Headhunted from the College of Surgeons, UCD says research income has more than tripled under Fitzgerald’s watch. Critics say his salary level is inappropriate in a university facing severe budgetary cuts and one with debts of more than €12 million.


Director general, Science Foundation Ireland


Gannon leaves SFI at the end of the year after being headhunted by the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane. He made a major impact on national science policy, including at Cabinet level. Described as a key asset by Minister for Enterprise Batt O’Keeffe, his departure is regarded as a huge loss.

A spokesperson said that Gannon’s salary level is “required in order to secure the services of a uniquely qualified individual with the necessary international scientific reputation and managerial experience, to deliver on the ambitious agenda the Government has entrusted to SFI.”


President, UCC


The highest-paid university president in Ireland. Last year, former education minister Batt O’Keeffe asked the seven university presidents to take a pay cut but they have not responded to this request. UCC has debts of more than €10 million. Under Murphys tenure, UCC has routinely outperformed both UCD and Trinity College in the battle to secure research funding.

A spokesman for the college said that the presidents salary is HEA-approved and reflects his previous clinical background. The president also retains a special adviser, Eamonn Sweeney, who earns €118,000 per year.


Dean, School of Business, UCD


Begley’s role as dean of the UCD School of Business means he oversees the undergraduate Quinn School and the graduate Michael Smurfit School. The Smurfit MBA held its top 30 spot in the Financial Times European chart this year. The school also came in 98th in the global rankings. With more than 3,000 students and 30,000 alumni, the UCD Business School has a long reach into Irish corporate life.


Principal, College of Engineering, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, UCD €227,659

Despite losing a special allowance last year, Quirke remains as one of the highest-paid academics in Ireland. His salary was sanctioned by the HEA under a special framework agreement, designed to help colleges attract top academics from Ireland and abroad.

Quirke fits the profile of the high-level international academic that Irish universities have been so eager to entice: he has published more than 110 papers in international journals and is editor-in-chief of the international journal, Molecular Simulation and chairman of the Journal of Experimental Nanoscience.


Secretary General, Department of Education and Skills


Only the fourth woman to reach the position of Secretary General and the first in the Department of Education and Science. Appointed in 2005. Regularly puts in 12 hour days (or longer) in Marlborough Street.

7 DR JAMES BROWNE (Joint 7th)

President, NUIG


Became president four years ago after losing out in controversial circumstances more than a decade ago. Regarded as a tough, no-nonsense character who does not do small talk. That said, much respected across the sector and praised for NUIG’s strong links with local industry.

7 DR HUGH BRADY (Joint 7th)

President, UCD


One of the most prominent and controversial figures in Irish education, Brady has brought about sweeping changes at Irelands largest university. Under fire at recent Dáil Public Accounts Committee and asked to justify €1.6 million in illegal, unauthorised bonuses to senior staff.

Credited with moving UCD swiftly up the world ranking. After languishing in 221st place, it is now in the worlds top 100 in the Times Higher ranking.


Minister for Education


Dubbed “Calamity Coughlan’’ during a controversial term in Enterprise and Employment. Has adopted a low profile and more cautious approach in Education. As Tánaiste, under pressure to deliver substantial education cuts in forthcoming budget.


Vice-president for staff, UCD


A UCD graduate, he took an arts degree programme in the 1970s and went on to specialise in English and American literature. He then studied law at King’s Inns and was called to the bar in 1990. A civil servant for a decade, Drea worked at senior levels in the Department of the Environment and in the Department of Finance. Under Drea, an increasing number of lecturers at UCD are employed on short-term or hourly contracts.


11.John Hegarty

Provost, Trinity College Dublin €202,118

12. Professor Brian Norton President, Dublin Institute of Technology


12. Brian MacCraith

President, Dublin City University €193,843

12. Professor Don Barry President, University of Limerick €193,843

15.Paul OToole

Director general, FÁS


16.Brian Cawley

Director general, Institute of Public Administration


17.Tom Collins

Interim president, NUI Maynooth €184,150

18.Professor Frances Ruane

Director, Economic and Social Research Institute


19.Professor Paul Giller Registrar/vice-president for academic affairs, UCC


20. Professor Anne Scott Registrar, DCU €151,800 plus allowance of €14,145 –

total salary package €160,097

21.Dr Brendan Murphy

President, Cork IT


21. Professor Kieran Byrne President, Waterford IT


21. Marian Coy

President, Galway-Mayo IT


21.Dr Philip Nolan

Registrar UCD


21. Gerry OBrien

Bursar, UCD


21. Professor Jim Ward

Registrar, NUI Galway


21. Dr Séamus MacMathúna Secretary, NUI Galway


21. Mary Dooley

Bursar, NUI Galway


21. Professor Patrick J Prendergast

Vice-provost /chief academic officer, TCD


21. Darina Kneafsey

Chief operating officer, TCD


31. Con O’Brien

Vice-president for the student experience, UCC


31. Professor Grace Neville

Vice-president for teaching and learning, University College Cork. €155,184

31. Professor Michael Peter Kennedy

Vice-president for research policy and support, UCC.


34. Professor Eugene Kennedy Vice-president for research, DCU €153,685

35. Aíne Gibbons

Vice-president for development, UCD


36. Professor Richard Kennedy Vice-president for learning and innovation, DCU


36. Dr Maria Hinfelaar

President, Limerick IT


36. Dr Ruaidhri Neavyn

President, IT Carlow


36. Denis Cummins

President, Dundalk IT


36. Prof Ciarán Ó Catháin

Athlone IT


36. Dr Mary Meaney

President, IT Blanchardstown €151,800

36. Jim Devine

Director, Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology €151,800

36. Paul Hannigan

President, Letterkenny IT €151,800

36. Professor Terri Scott President, Sligo IT


36. Michael Carmody

President, IT Tralee


36. Pat McLaughlin

President, IT Tallaght


36. Mike OMalley

Bursar, NUI Maynooth


36. Frank Soughley

Finance officer, DCU


36. John Field

Director of finance, UL


36. Secretary

UL (position currently vacant) €151,800

36. Professor Paul McCutcheon Registrar, UL


36. Ian Matthews

Treasurer, Trinity College €151,800

36. Diarmuid Collins

Bursar, University College Cork €151,800

54. Padraic McNamara

Chief executive, State Examinations Commission €150,712 plus expenses of €1,318.21

54. Pat Curtin

Chief executive, National Council for Special Education.


56. Executive Faculty Deans DCU

Salary scale rising to €150,667

– Jim Dowling

Dean of Engineering and Computing

– Professor Bernard Pierce

School of Business

– Professor Eithne Guilfoyle

Humanities and Social Sciences

– Professor Malcolm Smyth

Science and Health

60. Martin Conry

Secretary, DCU


61. Stan McHugh

Chief executive, FETAC


61. Padraig Walsh

Chief executive, National Qualifications Authority of Ireland salary scale of €127,796 to €146,191

63. Dr Martin Butler Vice-president for students, UCD Professorial scale rising to €146,022

63. Dr Padraic Conway Vice-president for university relations, UCD

to €146,022

63. College Principals, UCD salary scale rising to €146,022

–Professor Mary Daly

Arts and Celtic Studies

–Professor Brigid Laffan

Human Sciences

–Professor Maurice Boland

Life Sciences

68. David Redmond

Registrar, NUI Maynooth €146,001

69. Declan McGonagle

Director, National College of Art and Design.


69. Dr Noel O’Connor

Director of student services, DIT Salary scale to €145,952

69. Paul Flynn

Director of finance and resources, DIT

to €145,952

69. Director/deans of colleges, DIT

– Bríd Grant

College of Arts and Tourism

– Mike Murphy

College of Engineering and Built Environment

– Paul OSullivan

College of Business

– Michael Devereux

College of Science and Health

Salary scale rising to €145,952

69. Professor Rowena Pecchenino

Dean of the Faculty of Social Science, NUI Maynooth


69. Professor Colm O’Morain

Dean of Health Sciences, TCD

€145,952 (Salary scale of professor consultant paid for by Tallaght Hospital, 50 per cent of which is reimbursed by TCD. The College pays in the order of €120,000.)

79. Tom Boland

Chief executive, Higher Education Authority


80. Dr Pauric Travers

President, St Patricks College: €145,328

80. Dr Peadar Cremin

President, Mary Immaculate College


82. Professor James Walsh

Deputy president, NUI Maynooth €144,607

83. Professor Caroline Fennell Head of College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Science, UCC €143,134

83. Professor Patrick Fitzpatrick Head of the College of Science, Engineering, and Food Science, UCC


85. Attracta Halpin Registrar, National University of Ireland: €138,719 plus registration officer allowance of €635

86. Professor Michael Marsh

Dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, TCD Salary scale of €108,048–€138, 655

86. Professor Chris Curtin

Vice-president for innovation and performance, NUI Galway €138,655

86. Professor Terry Smith, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway €138,655

86. Professor Ray ONeill

Vice-president for research NUI Maynooth


86. Professor Gerry Lyons

Dean of engineering and informatics, NUI Galway

salary scale to €138,655

86. Anne Fitzgerald

Secretary, Trinity College. Salary scale of €108,048–€138,655

94. Gearóid Ó Conluain

Chief executive officer, Higher Education and Training Awards Council

€132,687 plus expenses of €7,009

95. Professor William Golden Dean of Business, Public Policy and Law, NUI Galway


96. Anne Looney

Chief executive, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment €119,636

97. Éamonn Sweeney

Advisor to the president of UCC €118,000

98. Gerry Whyte

Dean of students at TCD

salary scale of €113,604–€145,952

98. Dr David Lloyd

Dean of research at TCD salary scale of €113,604–€145,952

100. Professor BG Loftus

Dean of medicine, NUI Galway €112,610


– Assistant Director Generals FÁS: €134,523-€153,885 Average salary: €149,469

– Asst Secretary Generals

Department of Education and Skills: at upper end of pay scale, based on incremental service, can earn up to €146,191

– Professorial salary scale UCD, UCC, TCD, NUIM, NUIG, DCU, and UL (appointed after 1995) €113,573–€145,952

– Professorial salary scale UCD, UCC, TCD, NUIM, NUIG, DCU, and UL (appointed before 1995) €107,964–€138,719

– Chief executives of larger VEC areas: upper pay scale of €129,854

– Registrars, secretaries, heads of development, and financial controllers Cork IT, Galway-Mayo IT, Waterford IT, Limerick IT, Athlone IT, Dundalk IT, Sligo IT.

Top salary of €114,997

- Associate Professors: salary scale of €82,970–€110,058

*At NUI Maynooth, Dr Thomas OConnor and Dr Bernard Mahon (both at number 92) are not on professorial scale and are paid their academic salary plus an allowance, bringing them to point three on the professorial salary scale which is €89,454.

– For historical reasons, the salary of the Secretary at UCD, John Coman, is not paid at HEA rates (€156,249). The correct figure was not available.