Union defends salaries of €100,000 paid to 1,000 university lecturers

 

THE UNION that represents Irish academics has defended salaries of €100,000 or more for 1,000 university lecturers.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that Ireland’s seven universities and Dublin Institute of Technology have more than 1,000 lecturers who earn six-figure sums.

In UCD nearly 300 staff, or just short of 10 per cent of the overall number, are being paid more than €100,000. NUI Maynooth has the second highest level of staff earning over €100,000 with 64 of 782 staff (8 per cent) on that figure, according to the figures obtained by the Sunday Times.

Irish Federation of University Teachers general secretary Mike Jennings said only 7 per cent of Irish-based lecturers were on salaries at or above €100,000 and the starting salary for a university lecturer was €33,000.

He said academics needed at least a PhD to become a university lecturer which is a minimum of eight years’ full-time study without pay and those on €100,000 plus were those who had reached professorial grade which could involve an average of 25 years’ study and work in their chosen field.

He added that €100,000 was not an “unreasonable figure for a tiny minority of people who rise to the top of their profession”.

Mr Jennings said many lecturers on relatively modest salaries of between €30,000 and €70,000 were not the problem. The problem was those who earned up to €250,000 and had created “endless bureaucracy” for those underneath them. “That is where the scandal is”.

The grades for university lecturers had been worked out carefully in the past and were found to be correct, he added.

“This idea that these figures are plucked out of the air is nonsensical.”

In November last year The Irish Timesobtained figures relating to the top 100 paid academics in Irish education ranging from the €263,602 paid to Prof Des Fitzgerald, the vice-president of research at UCD, to the €112,610 paid to Prof Brendan Gerard Loftus, the dean of medicine at NUI Galway.

Mr Jennings said many of those on what he called “super-salaries” were involved in management positions and “non-core non-direct functions” rather than lecturing.

He called for a “rigorous examination” of such lecturers and their salaries.

Cork Institute of Technology lecturer in economics and public policy Dr Tom O’Connor said those on above €100,000 should be evaluated by outsiders to see if they are worth the money they are being paid. Speaking on Morning Ireland,he said the idea that if you “pay peanuts you get monkeys” which was current in the Celtic Tiger no longer applied as there were plenty of people leaving college with PhDs willing to take over as lecturers.

UNIVERSITY SPEND: €1 MILLION PAID FOR IBEC MEMBERSHIPS

IRELAND’S SEVEN universities spent more than €1 million on membership of the employers’ group Ibec between 2005 and 2009, according to new figures.

The biggest spender was UCD, which spent €232,435, followed by NUI Galway (€193,135), and TCD (€169,823). The largest amounts were spent by NUI Galway in 2008 when its annual subscription cost €55,952 and UCD’s cost €53,183, according to figures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Irish Federation of University Teachers. There was a sharp drop-off in fees in 2009 with UCC and NUI Maynooth dropping out of Ibec while no figures are available for the University of Limerick.

The federation’s general secretary Mike Jennings criticised the payments and said too much money was being spent by universities on non-core activities which included subscriptions to Ibec. Irish Association of Universities chief executive Ned Costello defended membership of Ibec saying it provided advice on human resources and industrial relations