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Departmental Expenditure

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 9 November 2011

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Questions (93)

Brendan Smith

Question:

91 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he has taken to date to tackle the salaries and allowances paid to senior academic staff in third level institutions; and if savings can be made in this area. [33685/11]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Skills)

The Government is taking measures to reduce salary costs at the highest levels across the public sector through the application of salary ceilings. We are also committed to delivery on the public service reforms agreed under Croke Park. Policy on rates of pay in the Education sector forms part of wider public pay policy, including related commitments and reforms under the Croke Park agreement.

Historically, academic grades in Irish universities are linked to civil and public service grades and in the past therefore received pay increases in line with their public service counterparts. These grades were subject to pay reductions from January 2010 along with the pension levy provisions. With effect from January 2011, new recruits to these grades are subject to a 10% reduction in pay rates, as is also applicable to persons recruited for the first time to direct entry grades in the Public Service. Staff in the Higher Education Sector are covered by the provisions of the Croke Park Agreement, which provides that their pay will not be further reduced. Future appointments to Heads of Universities will be subject to the €200,000 pay ceiling applying across the Public Service.

There are believed to be 99 employees in the Higher Education sector earning more than €200,000 per annum. Of these, 89 are Academic Medical Consultants. Academic Consultants represent about 3.5% of the approximately 2,500 Medical Consultants employed in the Health Service. Since January this year, all new appointees to medical consultant posts are subject to a 10% pay reduction.

Under a Government Decision made earlier this year, the issue of the implementation of pay ceilings for medical consultants is to be considered in terms of ongoing contacts between the Minister of Health and the consultants in relation to the Consultant Contract. This process is ongoing. Of the other 10 posts paid in excess of €200,000 per annum: — 4 relate to Heads of Level I Universities — 6 are appointments made under Section 25(5)(a) of the Universities Act 1997.

The revised pay ceiling will apply to future appointments as Heads of Level I Universities while current incumbents may make voluntary waivers of salary. I have written to all of these incumbents since entering office asking them to make voluntary waivers. The remuneration of appointments made under Section 25(5)(a) of the Universities Act 1997 are not subject to the sanction of either the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform or the Minister for Education and Skills as the Act provides that a university may depart from sanctioned levels of remuneration where the governing body is satisfied that such departure is necessary to meet the objects of the university. In this context, having regard to statute, a pay ceiling may not be imposed. However a review of the mechanisms and procedures underpinning such appointments is being undertaken by the Department of Education & Skills, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Higher Education Authority (HEA). Again current incumbents may make voluntary waivers of salary.

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