Poll of the Day: 65% of readers think colleges should employ chaplains
New figures show only a handful of students regularly attending Mass at some institutions
About €1.5 million in public funds annually on employing chaplains in colleges, despite the low turn-out at services. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien /The Irish Times
Sixty-five per cent of Irish Times readers think colleges should continue to employ chaplains, according to an online poll.
The Irish Times Poll of the Day on Monday asked readers: “Should Irish colleges continue to employ chaplains?” The poll received 2,247 responses with 65 per cent voting “yes” and 35 per cent voting “no”.
On Monday, Irish Times Education Editor Carl O’Brien reported that just a handful of students are regularly showing up for religious services in some third level institutions.
According to information obtained by Atheist Ireland under the Freedom of Information Act, colleges and universities spend about €1.5 million in public funds annually on employing chaplains, despite the low turn-out at services.
At Cork Institute of Technology, for example, average attendance at campus religious services is four out of a student population of 12,000. The chaplain, a Catholic priest, is paid a salary of about €49,000.
Similarly, Sligo IT has 6,000 students with an average Mass attendance of nine. The chaplain there, also a Catholic priest, earns up to €55,000 annually.
The costs and recruitment processes involved in third level religious services are at the centre of an investigation ordered last year by outgoing Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan.
A spokesman for the Higher Education Authority, which is carrying out the investigation, confirmed that it is finalising the report but declined to comment further.
The ‘Irish Times Poll of the Day’ was a self-selecting survey of readers of irishtimes.com which ran from 10am-2.30pm.