Press Release - Handling of remuneration for certain senior staff in the University of Limerick and Institute of Technology Sligo

27 November 2018

A report of the Comptroller and Auditor General about the handling of remuneration for certain senior staff in the University of Limerick and Institute of Technology Sligo has been presented to the Houses of the Oireachtas today. The report examines the award of ‘professional added years’ for pension purposes in the University of Limerick, the admission of staff of a subsidiary company to the University of Limerick’s own pension scheme and the handling of severance payment cases at both the University of Limerick and Institute of Technology Sligo.

Award of professional added years

For historical reasons, the award of ‘professional added years’ for pension purposes in five of the seven universities are approved on a case-by-case basis by the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Up to late April 2018, Dublin City University and the University of Limerick operated their own separate frameworks for the award of professional added years.

Based on analysis of the awards in these two universities between 2012 and 2016, the examination found that the University of Limerick awarded its employees more generously in that regard than was the case in Dublin City University. The University of Limerick also awarded added years to administrative as well as academic staff, while Dublin City University restricted its awards to academic staff only.

Admission of senior staff of subsidiary to University of Limerick pension scheme

An arrangement put in place in late 2012 in the University of Limerick resulted in two executives employed by a University subsidiary company being admitted to a University pension scheme that was about to close for new entrants. The explanation provided by the University for this was that the two executives had been promised pension benefits equivalent to employees recruited to the University. However, there was no documentation to support this.

The additional pension benefits received by the two executives under the Exchequer-funded pension scheme have been valued actuarially at over €1.2 million.

Handling of severance cases

The process involved in implementing two severance deals in the University of Limerick in 2012 was reported on in a previous report by the Comptroller and Auditor General. In the course of the earlier examination, the University misrepresented the circumstances around the severance deals. In particular, the University failed to disclose that it had entered into three-year consultancy contracts with both managers at the same time as the severance deals were agreed.   

The combined severance/consultancy arrangement put in place resulted in estimated additional costs to the University of Limerick (including recurrent pension payments) of €310,000.

A severance arrangement by Institute of Technology Sligo in 2016 significantly exceeded the sanction received from the Department of Education and Skills, when account is taken of a sum incorrectly classified as payment related to sabbatical leave.

    Notes for Editors

    The full text of the report is available.

    The Comptroller and Auditor General is an independent constitutional officer with responsibility for the audit of public funds. He reports to Dáil Éireann.

    Enquiries about the report should be directed to Shane Carton at (01) 863 8665 or at shane.carton@audit.gov.ie