Three of the eight employees in Irish universities on an annual remuneration of over €200,000 have responded to Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn’s request to voluntarily lower their salary to that of the recently set pay ceiling, with one indicating an intention to make a voluntary waiver of a portion of salary and two declining.
Minister Quinn set the €200,000 pay ceiling for future appointments in a letter sent out to the chairpersons of Ireland’s seven universities in July 2011. According to the Department of Education and Skills, Quinn stated that employees “whose current salary is in excess of the relevant pay ceilings would be requested to make a voluntary waiver of salary of fifteen per cent, or by a lesser amount if the application of the full fifteen per cent reduction would bring their salary level to below the applicable pay ceiling.”
This new cap of €200,000 is currently exceeded by 105 academics across the country. Of the 105, 95 of them are Academic Medical Consultants, a majority of whom are jointly paid by the HSE and their university. A Department of Education and Skills spokesperson confirmed that excluding academic medical consultants, there are currently eight university employees on annual remuneration over €200,000.
NUI Maynooth and DCU are the only two universities who employ no staff members earning over the paycap. Of the remaining five, University of Limerick had seven Academic Medical Consultants, while NUI Galway and UCC paid a number of Academic Medical Consultants and the heads of their University over €200,000.
Both UCD and Trinity College were the only institutions to pay staff other than their Heads or Academic Medical Consultants over the cap. These staff are, according to a Department of Education and Skills spokesperson “appointed under the terms of a framework agreed between the universities and the Higher Education Authority, which allows universities, in very limited and exceptional circumstances, to depart from Ministerially approved pay scales” which is set out in Section 25(5) of the Universities Act, 1997.
Top academics, including UCD President Hugh Brady, have claimed that the cap will hinder the efforts of universities to hire top calibre candidates.
When questioned regarding the possibility of capping the salaries of staff that are not Heads of Schools or Academic Medical Consultants, a UCD spokesman remarked, “The university does not comment on individual contracts of staff.”