I’ve just recovered my composure after reading the following article in today’s Irish Times. Its entitled “The top 100 best-paid in education” and is available here.
It should not have surprised me that all 100 are essentially full-time administrators. The salaries of research professors all seem to be subordinate. This contrasts sharply with UK universities (let alone US institutions) where serious salaries are paid to top research talent. Tell me I’m wrong: otherwise I’ll start sending food parcels to my separated brethren in the Republic.
88 replies on “Poverty of Irish Academia”
Yes. You’re rooted in reality I see. “Active” professors very underpaid . Well spotted
“Vice-president for the student experience”
Does he work in the student bar???
Tis a papal level of self indulgence, and the media are at the gate here.
The lucky journalist with the right FOI request………
I only ever paid attention to starting salaries for Irish academia. Compared to other countries starting salaries were quite good. Not crazily high, but above average.
Is it fair to say that the Irish academic salary structure is more compressed than most?
5 in the top 10 are from UCD. I’m not surprised.
Trinity 14 – UCD 22
I find these rich lists extremely vulgar. Rupert Murdoch started it off and
now they are ubiquitous. It seems to be related to the unseemly general interest in “celebrity”. Meanwhile the wreckage of the Irish elite lies on the floor. Hubris and incompetence in equal measure bring the house down.
Quite a lot of dosh indeed. Hey Micheal, you have the masters of wine qualification dont you? Instead of food hampers, some nice barolo would be appreciated…..:)
The fact that leading administrators at Irish universities and ‘universities’ tend to receive higher salaries than research and teaching staff may, if I dare say so, reflect market demand for their services. Besides, their added value is more measurable than that of pure academics, some of whom produce either nothing at all (such as many sociologists) or anti-knowledge (Women’s Studies). And God only knows what theologists produce.
True scholars will work for a pittance anyhow — hence their more modest wages. There are always dozens of hungry, semi-employed graduate students waiting in the wings for the next, and hopefully fatal, heart attack of one of their respected academic seniors. Cancer will do as well but thanks to state-of-the-art chemotherapy it can take years to have its full effect.
Just goes to show that universities need to get their bloated cost structures under control before they ask students to carry the burden. What’s the point in asking students for thousands of euro a year in fees if it only goes to pay university administrators’ excessive salaries?
What a nasty, toxic, unpleasant, and downright callous set of sentiments. Tell me your tongue is firmly in cheek.
The advisor to the president of UCC gets paid €118,000 while the president himself gets paid €232,000. Are we really saying there is nothing wrong with this?
Interesting that it takes an outsider to bring up the distasteful subject of earnings; after all the primary mission is to educate and contribute to society!
Brian Cawley, Director general, Institute of Public Administration, on €188,952 plus a gold plated pension and presumably a travel budget, surely must have one of the cushier numbers in the public sector!
Ditto for Frances Ruane of the ESRI.
Is it fair to say that day-to-day pressure in these jobs couldn’t be comparable with the typical manager in a private sector company?
National teachers used to be paid less than secondary teachers because the latter spent more time studying and among other things; in the 1970s, garbage men vaulted over the pen pushers in the city of San Francisco, setting what could be viewed as a fair trend.
The Irish Times says on Frank Gannon of the SFI: “He made a major impact on national science policy, including at Cabinet level. Described as a key asset by Minister for Enterprise Batt O’Keeffe, his departure is regarded as a huge loss.”
This is a paean that could have been penned by a beneficiary of the largesse/misdirected use of public funds by amateur politicians.
The IT says UCD president was under fire at recent Dáil Public Accounts Committee and asked to justify €1.6 million in illegal, unauthorised bonuses to senior staff.
This is Ireland but in other jurisdictions, if a public official authorises an ultra vires payment, he or she can be held personally liable for it.
I don’t know how good or bad Brady is but again, waffly justifications like this add nothing to the story: “Credited with moving UCD swiftly up the world ranking. After languishing in 221st place, it is now in the worlds top 100 in the Times Higher ranking.”
As Prof John Kay said of Tolstoy: By describing Napoleon’s Russian campaign through the eyes of individual participants, Leo Tolstoy rejected the notion of history as the lives of great men. Of the battle of Borodino, he wrote: “It was not Napoleon who directed the course of the battle, for none of his orders was carried out and during the battle he did not know what was going on.”
Anyone who feels all the great people on the list are underpaid, remember they have a special pension scheme and adding pension years is a ‘legitimate expectation.’
What do Sean Flynn, Peter McGuire and Gearldine Kennedy earn? They deem it appropriate to publish the salaries of names individuals in their newspaper so why not their own?
@Michelle, I don’t pay the salary of the editor of the Irish times.
So 497 people earning more than $160k equivalent. Can anyone tell me how many people in the entire Ivy League in the US earn that much or more?
As an example.
You can look up rates for any school. I’m not aware of any aggregate data, but some searching might find it.
@Enda, I have bought the Irish Times every day since my teens, so I do pay the salary of the editor. The IT is owned by a private trust so the salaries of managers aren’t publicly available. They deem it appropriate to print the salaries of other named individuals in a newspaper, so surely they should be willing to subject themselves to similiar levels of accountability.
@ Michelle Norris
IT director salaries are listed in the annual report; check online.
GK insisted on being paid the same as the MD — so they both were overpaid.
stop buying the IT then if you believe they may be overpaid, or you’re not happy with the level of disclosure going. Can i stop paying for the salaries listed in the article? Eh, no.
The book to read about the ‘cancer’ of academic life is Kingsley Amis’s ‘Lucky Jim’:
On reflection, the conjecture that university administrators may somehow ‘deserve’ their outrageously high salaries might mean only that they are more efficient at extracting resources from the government budget — so like arsonists, the more competent they are at their job, the more harm they do. From the taxpayer’s perspective, it could be that the better these guys are, the worse.
Good one there. And I’m glad I didn’t forget my vomit bucket this morning.
Yea, the “Vice-president for the student experience” is not something out of The Onion — 81000 hits in Google, ALL CONCERNING OIRLAND AND, SPECIFICALLY, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE CORK. Too much lead in their drinking water down there in the South West, perhaps.
@ Michelle, google it. I found the info.
Citizens choose to buy the IT. Apart from the very wealthy citizens have no discretion over the tax they pay into the public purse which funds these salaries.
@ apologies I stand corrected, I have found the salaries of the IT senior management online. In the interests of openness and transparency I have pasted them in below.
The total remuneration of executive directors was €3.1 million last year. This included an ex-gratia payment of €1.1 million to former managing director Maeve Donovan, who retired from the company in February 2010.
Ms Donovan is the subject of a non-compete arrangement for two years for an annual payment of €50,000 a year.
The accounts show that Ms Donovan was paid €319,000 in 2009 as managing director.
Irish Times editor Geraldine Kennedy received the same level of salary.
Their pay was reduced by 20 per cent from the 2008 level of €399,000 as part of a programme of pay cuts across the company.
Liam Kavanagh, who was appointed managing director in March 2010, was paid €259,000 in his role as deputy managing director last year.
Deputy editor Paul O’Neill received €173,000 in salary. Both men took pay cuts of 15 per cent in 2009.
We might be an anti intellectual country that does not value the opinions of an educated elite but we certainly pay for them.
Wait till the IMF get a hould of yiz all!
Who remembers a German Ambassador about 4/5 years ago having a lash at us for our crazy salaries?
I believe he stated that his daughter,a paediatric consultant in the second in-command position in a major paediatric clinic/hospital in Munich, was being paid €70k per annum and drove a five year old car!
Same story here!
@ Carolus Galviensis:
You should also add:
‘ProfScam: Professors and the Demise of Higher Education’.
‘The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students’.
Executive salaries, it is alleged, are set by themselves at as high a level that is possible. Its part of their ‘self image’ thing’.
It is all to easy to focus at the top only – it makes for a great headline but misses the point. Irish acedemics at all levels are paid more than their counterparts in Germany (or most other places). The same goes for huge sections not not just of the public sector but also the private sector.
The UK pay scales for academics have been low within the EU for as long as I remember – I am surprised Michael is surprised about the pay in Irish universities!! That said I am sure the VC of Queens is paid more than a professor?
Thanks for the Charles Sykes recommendation. I read Bloom’s great classic when you were in swaddling clothes (guesstimate).
In my view the best recent book on education is Charles Murray’s Real Education:
I was thinking more of cheese than wine
I hope those complaining about IT editor payrates aren’t buying the IT at the student price of 80c, while on lofty academic payrates.
For economics experts Irish payrates must be fascinating, a huge swathe of the workforce has had its pay decided not by how hard it is to recruit and retain suitable staff but by what a few people in the likes of the ex-Anglo chairman led Higher Level Renumeration Board think is a suitable payrate.
In this situation payrates unsurprisingly went beyond economically justifiable rates.
I get the feeling at some stage we will be getting German reaction to this and it’ll be the same warm fuzzy feeling they had when they thought the Greeks were retiring at 50.
Ireland is sometimes more like an experiment with monkeys you might read about in Freakonomics than real life. (We’ll let the monkeys decide they’re own reward level.)
I saw a report on salaries at the IT in a recent issue and what struck me was how much the directors were paid for another year of failure in the form of a massive loss that reduced the Trust’s cash balances to a level that won’t manage another year of same.
I find these rich lists extremely vulgar. Rupert Murdoch started it off and
now they are ubiquitous. It seems to be related to the unseemly general interest in “celebrity”. Meanwhile the wreckage of the Irish elite lies on the floor. Hubris and incompetence in equal measure bring the house down.
Well said. How right you are.
I recall Ed Walsh constantly going on about paying top money to get the best results.
Well, Ireland paid top money, everwhere. We know the results.
Ah, Michael, bless your innocence. American universities don’t pay the serious money to research talent; or to teaching talent; or even to administrators.
The average pay for the President of a doctorate-granting US university earns $320,616.
The average for a tenured professor is around $90,000. Research graduate students get a stipend of about $17,000.
Who do you think gets the really big bucks in that average US university? Who gets over $1 million per year?
That would be the coach of the university’s American Football team.
The article states that €62m is spent on pensions for 22,700 teaching staff, ie €2,731 per person. Shurely shome mistake? (But then again this is from the same esteemed organ that managed to misspell ‘separately’ in an editorial last week. And I couldn’t help but notice four (three if we are being generous) glaring grammatical errors in one of Sarah Carey’s posts today. But who cares about standards these days?)
In my view the best recent book on education is Charles Murray’s Real Education:
You gotta be kidding me: “Bell Curve” Charles Murray? (that the cover endorsement is by Jonah “Liberal Fascism” Goldberg is hilarious).
@ Paul Hunt
Citizens choose to buy the IT.
Because they value what’s in there, not because they approve of pigs at a swill. What do you think a poll of IT readers would adjudge to be a fair salary for the MD and the Editor?
@Scorpio: average Irish salaries are way above average UK salaries. However, UK professors aren’t on a pay scale, even though it notionally exists; salaries are negotiated individually. Furthermore, they vary according to the marketability of the discipline; thus economists make more than literature professors, but less than some scientists. UK top salaries (for academics, that is, rather than administrators) are thus higher than ours; but only for those few academics whom the academic job market judges, rightly or wrongly, to be the best. I leave it to the interested student to work out the implications of this for academic migration patterns.
A brief anecdote, if I may. I went to some meeting or other in College last year at which a dean suggested that students be given credit for extra-curricular activities. This was generally agreed to be an excellent idea. Of course, doing this would then require hiring someone to monitor students’ extra-curricular activities. This was also agreed to be an excellent idea. I suggested that doing extra-curricular activities because you like it rather than because you think it will benefit you in cv terms is something that ought to be encouraged in young people; and that since the State was bust, hiring such a person wasn’t something we should do anyway. People looked at me as if I was a rather dim-witted student, and the Vice Provost summed up the discussion by saying that this was obviously a good idea that College should ‘progress’, or some such thing.
Bureaucrats have incentives that are not necessarily in line with taxpayer interests.
These high salaries don’t really contrast sharpely with the US. Some of the big public universities in N. America have to publish salaries annually (U. of Toronto is one), you check the data. High salaries over here can be for administrators or superstar faculty. But, administrators don’t get tenure and can (and are) fired. Also, academic salareis vary by discipline (supply and demand of PhDs determines salaries). So, these salaries might be high for a economics department, but they would not be high for a medical school, engineering, or business in N. America. For example, the going rate for a dean of a good business school over here is 350k-500k.
A company with which I am quite familiar :
4 directors were paid a total of EUR 6.551 million in 2009 EXCLUDING pensions.
In 1990 the company was floated for IEP 450m
In 2006 it was valued at over EUR 10bn
Yesterday the enlarged group with Permanent TSB was valued at EUR 240m
They didn’t just have their snouts in the trough. They destroyed the farm.
It’s the same with the Irish Times directors. EUR 3.1 m for what? Creating shareholder value?
Acadmic salaries very enormously across area in the US, reporting the mean or median faculty salary is misleading. You can have an associate in finance earnings 250k and a full professor in history making 65k at the same institution.
There’s a fine summary of Murray’s four key arguments here, if you’re interested:
(basically: ability varies; half of the children are below average; too many people are going to college; and the future depends on how we educate the academically gifted.)
It’s always worth reading the arguments of the ‘other side’ before you cast judgment.
Really? That’s how the concept of an average works? That individual observations in a sample will themselves differ from the average across that sample? Blimey! Thanks for that valuable insight.
The fact remains that at US universities the salaries of professors and administrators is typically dwarfed by those paid to athletic directors and sports coaches. For example, the Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, receives $390,000. Their football team’s head coach makes $2.4 million. That’s what US universities spend their money on. That’s what they value.
Murray’s arguments are specious and self-serving as always (a predilction to destroying the welfare state in search of rationales).
How’s he doing with his research to ‘prove’ that blacks are genetically inferior?
Director general, FÁS
“What do you think a poll of IT readers would adjudge to be a fair salary for the MD and the Editor?”
Of the rishI miTes? Given the standard of editing, not much for the editor and nothing for the sub-editors. It is littered with spelling and grammar errors. The syntax has gone to pot. Only the sports sections seem to have retained any writing ability (barring a few notable exceptions).
Pot calling Ketle blak
Eh, right. An anonymous unpaid blogger typing in rant/rage mode (a permanent feature, you too can get an upgrade for it), too indignant to do more than a cursory readback, compared and contrasted with a 319,000.00 euro salary for being the editor of what thinks of itself as the paper of record…
Good Gracious….the begrudgery on this thread is amazing – and until Ben came along it was basically a fact free zone.
It seems like under stress, the Irish are reverting to type – not happy unless tall poppies are cut down to size and everyone is equally miserable as themselves. The same mindset that led to decades of sub-par economic and political performance.
“WE” want world-class universities with leading edge researchers and administrators, etc. You won’t get these sort of people just because Ireland is a “nice” place to live – it ain’t that compelling. Many of the people are the top of this list were recruited from foreign institutions and had a “market test” of their value.
Typically, for most Irish people at the very very top of their professions globally (or anyone else), a move back home usually means a dramatic salary cut. You can only depend on good will and the ole green jersey for so far.
The people on this list have delivered at least 2, and arguably more, world-class institutions.
I know everyone is angry. But none of the people on this list caused our economic problems. You’re not poorer because of what they did or didn’t do.
Comparables for many of these roles are widely available on the web. These numbers are not shocking or extravagant by international standards. Here are some examples that are far from exceptional (REMEMBER no one in Ireland gets paid >260K)
a. President of the University of Virginia (a top 20 US university and near-Ivy) – Salary $750,000 (500K euro)
b. President of Penn State – Salary $800,000K (good solid US state university)
c. Supervisor of Fairfax County Public Schools – a large suburban county school system in a US county of 1 million – Salary $292,000 (195K)
d. Head of Glasgow University – 284,000 Stg (326K)
e. Head of Edinburgh University 253,000 STG (290K)
Many of the people on this list are major rainmakers for their institutions – generating research grants, MNC relationships, etc – far in excess of their costs and with a large benefit to students and Ireland Inc.
What is it with our culture? Quiet frankly, if I were a nobel-calibre scientist and I had to face this media scrutiny and jealousy over my salary – not to mention the upcoming fiscal price we’re all going to pay for the bailouts – I’d be seriously considering departure to sunnier climes.
Would I get Fintin O’Toole’s gig if i got the rant/rage upgrade.
Kevin O’Rourke writes:
Reminds me of the joke about the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions of the staff of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions.
PhD/academic life is not a bed of roses in the US by any means.
“Business leaders have cried “scientist shortage,” but scores of thousands of young Ph.D.s are laboring in U.S. university labs as low-paid, temporary workers, ostensibly training for permanent faculty positions that will never exist.”
well if you want to get averages across different groups that are not comparable, go ahead. My point was merely that the variance is important if you want to use US data as a benchmark. But, if you want to do apples-to-oranges comparisons go ahead.
Undoubtedly there are individuals who fit the positive description which you give, and who could have made major contributions anywhere in the world. Some parts of our system work very well.
Even you, however, cannot be blind to the mediocrity and croneyism which has characterised the upper reaches of our institutions.
Our banks were supposedly ‘world class’ too.
It seems to me there has been room in Ireland for the high achiever, but only insofar as he/she could be seen to add value to, and certainly not disturb, the existing web of cozy relationships. Circles of friends.
As the big institutional players have had access to state funds for patronage purposes, there has been no shortage of carrots. Selective application of the various gatekeeping/regulatory/planning arrangements has provided the necessary supply of supply of sticks. An infernal machine.
We have had too much of discretion and not enough of accountability. The public purse has been raided on a routine basis. Too many able folk have maintained a prudent silence, and concentrated on their tasks. That’s a failure of responsibility, irrespective of how well one carries out one’s particular duties.
Joe Lee gave us the diagnosis before the boom was ever conceived. The possessor principle versus the performer principle. We wouldn’t take the medicine then, and we probably won’t take it now either.
How are US academic salaries faring now that many uni endowments are in trouble?
This Irish Times survey has a significant omission.
The salaries of many lecturers/professors in the two dental schools is the same pay scale as medical consultants in public hospitals.
These dentist teachers are on salaries in excess of 200,000 euro and some have private practice income as well.
What Michael Moore said in his introduction was spot on: practically all the people mentioned are Administrators or “Senior Mangement” (Ugh!) not real practicing Academics. With a very few honourable exceptions they do hardly any teaching (never mind research).
However we should not focus too much on pay levels at the top: the point is are they really worth it? Do they deliver real results? I am somewhat sceptical.
Also what we should look at is the sheer growth in numbers of Administrative staff at all levels, which has in my opinion crowded out resources from academic activity. A recent C&AG report on Universities put UCD at the top (or is it bottom? ) of this particular league table with well over 50% of staff costs eaten up by Administrative and Allied Trades.
The late Joe MacHale (Secretary and Bursar of UCD) used to boast that UCD Administration accounted for less than 5% of the College budget. Maybe he was a bit too frugal, but sometimes I wonder how many people does it now take to do Joe MacHale’s job?
The piece in the IT mentions that the data are incomplete. Several institutions have evidenly not been very forthcoming which explains why only ‘100’ appear as opposed to probably several hundred. Is it not the case that 5-6 years agao one of the main research funding bodies found itself with surplus cash at the end of the year and simply used it to increase senior research salaries?
Two friends of mine are working in a well-known uni in tenured full professorships, very research active, international profiles, etc, and on salaries of 200K.
In short the list is a schmooze job. The real extend of high salaries in 3rd level is underestimated. Oxford has 9000 staff and pays around 250 of them 100K (sterling) and above. Figure it out. I can’t.
Not to justify the IT top dog salaries, but in reality a significant chunk of the income is from advertising revenue rather than what you or I pay for the paper. Perhaps the reaction is less about begrudgery (the fall-back accusation in this country) and more about the emerging attitude of wanting to be sure that one is getting value for ones (tax) money, the lack of which, in fairness, landed us where we are today really. Call it the swing of the pendulum and don’t take it personally perhaps?
Regardless of the rights and wrongs of academic pay, there is something badly wrong with this list. How can there be 536 people on more than 110K, with 497 people on the professorial salary scale, €113,573–€145,952, and yet rank 100 has a salary of 112K? The list does not include any SFI research profs, who are all at the top or off the Prof scale, nor any of the medical school profs who are similarly off the top of usual Prof scale. Anyone from about mid-list is not in the top 100. It’s simply a list of senior admin posts and its incomplete.
I rarely buy the Irish Times, mostly because they get the story completely wrong.
Without fail, when I have had inside knowledge of a news story, Ive found the self named paper of record has omitted the key fact and thus give a false picture of what or why something happened.
That said, they can pay themselves whatever they want. Unless they are in receipt of state funds.
On this survey, plus I believe approx 70% of the education budget is salaries, it points to scope to cut the education budget by 50% with no loss of service….. those who leave can easily be replaced with younger, hungrier and probably better people. those who stay will still be earning a wage appropriate to their contribution.
The rats are turning on one another! Wedge anyone?
Division? Who gains? “Cui bono” as the blog latin goes. (To whom the good? WTF?)
Who is sewing this? Ooooh, the big bad media! In a decade, there will be only one newspaper in this “Republic” …..
All those journo jobs gone! Blogs will have settled down by then and they will be taking adverts for housing recoveries every six months!
Academic jobs will be gone too! Same number or more “universities” but most will be virtual and many offshore ….. Whoooops! Better make sure those pensions actually get paid!!!!!!
It is bizarre that these salaries are justified on the basis of needing “world class” salaries for world class personnel – from a scanning of the names I estimate that maybe 98/100 of the people on the list are Irish. I had no idea that we had such a monopoly on university administrative talent! Maybe this should be our next export industry….
It’s a pity that you’re afraid to identify yourself or are you one of the list?
You seem so like Bertie Ahern and his type with their sense of entitlement.
You have all the jargon as well including this ‘Ireland Inc’ — whatever that means.
Have you or any one of these ‘rainmakers’ any experience of what it is like to run a business and meet a payroll?
Prof. Robert Frank of Cornell University has written of the cascade effect and it’s easy to see how pay inflation can take hold.
No wonder the politicians and trade union leaders linked their pay to public service managers.
Meantime, it’s the folks in the private tradeable goods and services sector, many without pensions or job security who must provide the resources for you.
When comparing Irish salaries with US ones, note that US academics are generally only paid for 9 months out of the year. The other three months, the lucky ones can supplement this through income drawn from grants, extra income from summer teaching, and so on. So if you want to compare a US salary with an Irish one, it is probably reasonable to multiply the US base salary by 10/9 (assuming that the “average” professor is able to come up with an extra month’s salary during the summer term). For top people who routinely receive grants, multiply those salaries by 11/9, effectively adding another 22% on top of the base.
Quiet frankly, if I were a nobel-calibre scientist and I had to face this media scrutiny and jealousy over my salary – not to mention the upcoming fiscal price we’re all going to pay for the bailouts – I’d be seriously considering departure to sunnier climes.
Would you care to point out the “nobel-calibre scientists” on the list?
I’ll try posting the link where you can see US academic salaries again, since the debate seems to have gone on with a blissful lack of data.
In an earlier comment I made the point that the more efficient these admistrators are, the more damage they can cause — what one might call the arsonist effect. After all, the rain these ‘rainmakers’ create is chiefly revenue from taxation — not money from the private sector.
While I try to avoid ad hominem comments, might I point out that anonymity does in some cases create a credibility problem. So perhaps you should at least reveal whether you are employed by the public or private sector. I’m a civil servant myself, incidentally.
@ Carolus @ Michael Hennigan
The logic/facts behind my posts – not my personal situation should dictate evaluation of my arguments. However, I work for a large (relatively high profile) commercial for-profit firm – hence need for anonymity.
In terms of background and ability to comment, I’ve worked in the private sector in Ireland and – more importantly- for most of my career in the US and UK, including with/for Fortune/FTSE 100 companies up to the level of senior management. I even did a (very unsucessful 🙂 ) start-up in the late 90s in the US + had a spell of duty in the City in London for a bulge-bracket bank very early in my career. Lets just say Ireland was/is not a career-optimising move for me 🙂
I have a lot of respect for people like Michael who are trying to build a self-owned business.
My only vested interest here is that I’m an graduate of an Irish University and, obviously, have a stake in their reputation – would like my kids to go to good caliber university here instead of a UK university, etc, etc.
Point on the social value of “rainmaking” activities is a good one and I am delighted that a member of our civil service takes the perspective of a strong steward of taxpayer resources. We’d need to unpack what exactly they do and incent accordingly – look at opportunity cost, etc, etc.
Agree with a lot of what you say. However, this type of analysis and the tone of this thread does not appear to be motivated by a desire to improve performance/accountability – but rather by sheer jealousy. The likely result is just the departure of those who can command higher or similiar salaries abroad and just don’t want the hassle/invasion of privacy/etc.
I have enough of a frame of reference to know that €190K for the head of the national training agency is NOT a lot of money relative to the sort of person you’d want running a €1Billion organisation with hundreds of staff and a vital mission – a mid-level corporate manager would make much more somewhere like Coca Cola or J&J for running a function within a small business unit. $190K about what a newly minted MBA or Laywer would make working for a Goldman Sachs or a Skadden Arps.
The real answer here- IF we want a world-class education system- is actually the following – higher but much more risky compensation. Make the majority of their salary contingent on achievement of whatever metrics you think appropriate.
I’m enough of an economist to believe in incentives. I once advised a PE firm that bought a sleepy and fat subsidiary of a big pharmaco. They incented the hell out of the top team of 5 people and we watched as they threw loads of their cronies under the bus in order to meet our ambitious cost savings targets.
My answer to BOI and AIB would be to bring in some heavy calibre dude and promise him $5 Million at the end of 5 years if he delivered $x Million in cost efficiencies, etc.
If begrudgery wins, we’ll get mediocrity in our institutions as the result.
Anyway – I have to go – to my day job.
Re. Nobel-Calibre scientists- €270K per year is probably not enough to get one unless there was serious green jersey sentiment going on. Somewhere like Stanford would pay a lot more. Now if we don’t want such people here and are happy with mediocity – that’s cool – lets just be explicit about our ambitions.
I don’t know the disciplines well-enough to comment on inividuals. However as an example of the people on this list, Frank Gannon – who passed the market test and was head-hunted to Australia – looks like a very impressive guy who was successful abroad, etc.
“Prof. Frank Gannon has been Director General of SFI since July 2007. SFI has the mission to support excellent research in Ireland such that it impacts on the economy and society. Prof Gannon joined SFI from his position as Executive Director of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) and Senior Scientist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), based in Heidelberg, Germany; where he worked since 1994.
Prof. Frank Gannon has been Director General of SFI since July 2007. SFI has the mission to support excellent research in Ireland such that it impacts on the economy and society. Prof Gannon joined SFI from his position as Executive Director of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) and Senior Scientist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), based in Heidelberg, Germany; where he worked since 1994.
Prior to his appointment at EMBO, Prof Gannon was Director of the National Diagnostic Centre and Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology at University College Galway, Ireland, with particular responsibility for the development of a biotechnology programme.
He obtained a Bachelor of Science from the National University of Ireland, Galway in 1970, a PhD from the University of Leicester, England in 1973, was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Madison Wisconsin, USA from 1973 to 1975, and Chargé de Recherche in INSERM at the University of Strasbourg, France from 1975 to 1981, when he moved back to Galway.
His major research interest is the control of gene expression and epigenetics with a particular focus on the Estrogen Receptor which plays a major role in breast cancer and osteoporosis. These studies have provided leads to novel treatments or therapeutic approaches to a number of cancers.
Prof Gannon has authored over 200 scientific articles published in international journals. In addition he contributed almost 100 editorials to EMBO reports of which he was founding Senior Editor and also writes extensively on diverse topics related to science policy. Prof Gannon has ten patent applications, four of which are active at present and was the founder of both Bimini Ltd. (1990) and Elara Pharmaceuticals (2006). He was a member of the interim Board of Science Foundation Ireland from 2002 to 2004, was elected as a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in May 2008. Other honours include the award of Doctorates (Honoris Causa) from the University of Szeged (Hungary), Queen’s University Belfast in June 2008, and the University of Queensland, Brisbane in December 2008. He is an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), Academia Europaea, the Mexican Academy of Medicine and the European Academy of Cancer Sciences.
He has served on a range of high-level scientific advisory boards at institutes throughout the world and was co-founder of the European Life Sciences Forum (ELSF) and the Initiative for Science Europe (ISE) that played significant roles in the establishment of the European Research Council (ERC). Currently he is a member of the European Research Area Board (ERAB) that advises the European Commission and the steering council of the European Heads of Research Councils (EUROHORCs).”
The following isn’t using specific data to support a case but the reasonable person should make an appropriate inference.
In mid-2006 a new science strategy for 2006-2013 was announced with a price tag of €8.2bn and a goal that “Ireland by 2013 will be internationally renowned for the excellence of its research, and will be to the forefront in generating and using new knowledge for economic and social progress, within an innovation driven culture.”
Last September, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Batt O’Keeffe announced the fourth research policy advisory group since Dec 2008.
It appeared that the philosopher’s stone had been found in March 2010, when the Innovation Taskforce report was presented to Brian Cowen, before he left for a trip to the US.
The group guessed that between 117,000 and 235,000 jobs could be created in the high technology and biotech sectors over the coming decade. It wasn’t based on any credible facts.
Today, in an obvious admission of failure, Batt O’Keeffe told the latest advisory group on research policy, this one headed by ex-Intel Ireland general manager, to focus on the creation of new high-quality jobs and to set aside sectoral interests.
O’Keeffe asked that international experts who have completed similar exercises in other countries be consulted – – this is a classic case of having put the cart before the horse.
So has Science Foundation Ireland been more useful than a tit on a bull and what has been the input of the science staff at the universities?
Silence can only be regarded as support for a failed strategy.
Maybe the ‘experts’ are underpaid or maybe not.
Closer to the truth is that it high rewards can make no difference in this situation.
So was Prof. Gannon supporting a successful strategy or a failed one?
Can the problem be that politicians are sometimes over-impressed with CV detail and fail to ask the appropriate questions?
Besides, maybe what the SFI needed was an individual with commercial experience/success?
A country like Ireland cannot afford to spend billions on basic research and export much of its PhD output.
I think characterising the general trend of the posts here as motivated by jealousy and begrudgery is lazy and more akin to what you would hear in the schoolyard.
If you were to plot the salaries of the lead people across all sectors from large companies to SMEs to the relative performance of their enterprises over the last ten years in Ireland I’m sure it would be a chaotic plot with no discernable pattern. The conclusion would be that locating competence is a lottery in the current system.
Some people are great at enhancing career progression but add little value and vice versa. In recent years the HR gatekeepers seem to have admitted a lot more of the former in my opinion.
As in politics, success is often based on the business cycle rather than individual effort; so at some point if it appears the business cycle isn’t going to turn in time, the heavy calibre dude would surely bail out.
Then again, why would Ben Bernanke do the job he is doing when the CE of a penny-ha’penny Irish quango called the National Consumer Agency, was recently earning more than him?
Not everyone is a greedy pig.
This is really vacuous MBA-speak.
It’s no wonder we had Fas on its ‘vital mission’ of support for the aviation industry.
When a budget is provided from the public treasury is there any more stress on an individual or skills required whether the spending is €200m or €1bn?
Of course in a system of no accountability, it’s like kids left loose in Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory.
The New York Times reported in November 2008 that in September 2007, Citigroup’s then chief executive, Chuck Prince, had learned for the first time that the bank owned about $43 billion in mortgage-related assets!
Former Treasury secretary, Robert Rubin, who earned $17.0 million at Citi in 2008, was not aware of the detail of $55 billion of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and other subprime-related securities on the group’s balance sheet. “The answer is very simple,” he told Fortune Magazine, “It didn’t go on under my nose.”
Most management books are written by academics and the rest are written by business folk polishing their egos.
It’s not surprising that the public so easily buy spoof and bullshit!
@ Remnant his cv looks impressive. However nobel calibre? Leaving aside the writers and the peacemakers we have had one… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Walton
Thats the flipside to administrators, strategists, rainmakers, evangelists making grandiose claims. they deserve to be judged by results.
As far as I know there are no plans to introduce a Nobel prize for “rainmaking” (unless of course it involves real rain and happens somewhere other than Ireland)
Though I’m sure given the self importance of the rainmakers this can only be a matter of time…. And the prize for the best business plan goes to…. the best strategic framework to….most innovative use of powerpoint.
If you were in a failed startup, you will be familiar with the moment when you realize the business plan is bollocks, look at the companies cash reserves and figure out how long before the cash runs out. For “Ireland Inc” the consensus seems to be around June/July 2011.
One may have ambitions but one should also be realistic.
@ Michael Hennigan et al
Listen – its common knowledge that effort/skill vs outcome are not perfectly correlated at all – and randomness drives the latter to a large degree. Tough – Life’s not fair and potential executives will know that.
But there is a very strong correlation between what you pay and what you get on the former side. For every Prince and Rubin, there’s a Welch/Gates/O’Leary/Buffett. But if you set the scales too low – you’re almost guaranteed to get a monkey or someone out of their depth.
Lets talk about the “bare minimum” skills we as taxpayers or citizens would probably want a Head of FAS to have:
– Talk the talk with senior management at potential MNC investors about our workforce skills, blah, blah, etc.
– Manage a horrible IR relationship with some of the the toughest unions West of the Volga – so there’s at least some minimum level of productivity
– Spot potential waste fraud and abuse and kick the tyres on internal controls/audit/budgeting process.
– Keep on top of your finance people to make sure there are not cost over-runs. All for a budget of €1 Billion with x employees, x offices, x programs, etc.
– Make sure you at least have minimally competent people in place to design and deliver whatever programs you’re responsible for delivering.
+ Put up with all of the media scrutiny, crap from politicians, abuse, etc.
And that’s before we even get to the tasks of motivating/strategy/change management/driving “customer” focus/etc/etc.
Not sure I’d want that job at 190K if I could have a role at, say, Microsoft or P&G as the Senior HR Manager- classic middle management- for one of their smaller country organisations.
And, yes, for a bigger budget/more people/better mission/etc – I would expect to have to pay more.
Bernanke may be an US example of the Green Jersey effect – plus there’s the “power & influence” side of being one of the most powerful people on the planet + multi-million dollar tenure afterwards at Morgan Stanley/etc afterwards+lifetime lecture circuit. None of the latter are on offer to any Irish public sector employee.
On Gannon, he looks like a good candidate for a Chief Research Officer at a medium or large Pharmaco. I’m not qualified to speak on his Nobel prospects but he looks like a heavy duty researcher in a very critical and remunerative field (genetics). In any case, it looks like the market has spoken and he’s off to Australia.
Golly Gosh – the highest paid person in Ireland’s entire education and training sector- which we spout as our core competitive advantage- makes shock/horror a whopping €270K!! and its a cause for an article in our national newspaper and all the angst on this board. It feels like that moment from Austin Powers where the bad guy asks for “€1 MILLION DOLLARS” as the ransom.
With a lazy 3 min google search, I found 2 university heads in Scotland who were paid more than any of these people.
Anyway, this is my last post on this thread.
@ Michael Hennigan
Oh no – I have to break my “last post on this thread” claim to respond to your post. Better informed.
I completely agree on the following.
“Can the problem be that politicians are sometimes over-impressed with CV detail and fail to ask the appropriate questions?
Besides, maybe what the SFI needed was an individual with commercial experience/success?”
Or it could be that Batt O’Keefe or his senior civil servants have no experience of MNCs, science & technology, entrepreneurship, business, etc?
My point is that you won’t get a good commercial heavy hitter- who can spot BS AND politically outmanoveur the civil service/vested interests- unless you’re willing to pay. If you’re also looking for someone who can _intelligently_ allocate the kind of resources that SFI were allocating on the basis of commercial/economic potential – then that type of person will most likely have career options as a venture capitalist – again not cheap.
Frank Gannon, along with a number of Irish Academics owe their prestige to summer project work they carried out in the lab of Pierre Chambonne as young students. Chambonne was invited to TCD last year to address a conference on cancer and a number of top Irish Scientists including Frank came to pay their respects. Pierre is well into his 80s but stood for a hour and gave a talk of a far higher quality than any Irish Scientist could have….and as I looked around a a senior TCD administrator and the conference chairman smirked and grinned and pulled faces behind his back…….this is Irish Science…big money, big waste and a 2 fingered salute to us all.
Pierre Chambonne is still a greater scientist than anyone else in that room!
Fair enough, but insofar as entreneurship exists in the public sector, it is too often manifested, an understood, as the capacity to game the system internally. The serious business of exploiting one’s discretionary powers tends to take precedence over the development of business in the larger marketplace.
Heavy hitters usually equals secrecy, patronage and clientilism. As the saying goes ‘It’s coming off a broad back’. Political economy with a capital P.
“But there is a very strong correlation between what you pay and what you get”
I listened for years to overpaid mediocre top level managers lecturing the rest of the hoi polloi about the need to pay themselves fat salaries on the justification that “you pay peanuts – you get monkees” crap.
If there is one thing the banking crisis exposed in the last few years it was the fact that not only was there no direct correlation between pay and performance, but in most cases, it appeared there was an inverse one. Look at our bankers and then swivel around and look at our politicians. Then have a look at the broadcasters in RTE. One hesitates to speak ill of the dead, but I will just mention Gerry Ryan and say no more. There are many others. Any objective commentator would agree that fat salaries attract greedy self serving p$!%ks, with bloated egos and a talent for blowing their own trumpets.
Michael Hennigan made the point earlier and more eloquently re Ben Bernanke, that Ireland is not the only country whose finacial elite have their snouts in the trough, and it is absolutely clear when you see the salaries and bonuses that wall st executives in GS (especially) are still paying themselves having wreaked havoc on the world economy, through blatant fraud.
@remnant .. I mean
.. and of course it wasn’t Ben Bernanke but Robert Rubin and Chuck Prince who were MHs examples of overpaidbuffoons.
Evidence here of another one:
” Not sure I’d want that job at 190K if I could have a role at, say, Microsoft or P&G as the Senior HR Manager”
Entrepreneurship is severely overrated. How many boxwallas in Ireland were ever truly entrepreneurial- as in independent, visonary, non corrupt, value generating ? There was no end to mentions about the glories of entreprenurship during the boom. The other thing in the same vein that really used to stick in my craw was philanthropy. All Ireland needed was more philanthrophy. Just pay your taxes, lads.
If I see one more overleveraged secuvestor described as an awn-trup-inner, I’ll puke even more than I normally do.
There are entrepreneurs in Ireland, but you probably haven’t heard of them, because they’ve been run out of business by their politically connected rivals.
Crony capitalism runs deep in this country.
Amen to that..
Grantrepreneurs more like it.
The real thing are keeping their heads down avoiding government ministers ready to land out at their place of work with cameras telling them to employ more people.
So has Science Foundation Ireland been more useful than a tit on a bull and what has been the input of the science staff at the universities?
I suspect you had a Free Martin in mind when you penned that piece 🙂
Re Nobel prize-winners. So what? Someone has to win the lottery. Doesn’t mean the economy follows them.
The smart economy hasn’t delivered. it’s commercial goals were always unrealistic (just reflect for a moment on the employment outcomes promised) but politicians, many of whom present as ignoramuses, were open to being convinced otherwise, and dog teams of academics panted away enthusiastically. No more worries about industrial development policy. Those pointy heads in 3rd level will solve everything.
Research will always be a good thing to do as it is a hallmark, among others, of Western civilization. But the scale and mode adopted by Ireland was always crazy – Ireland the one-stop shop for solving all known research problems.
The paradox at the center of smart economy mis-thinking rest on the general principle that the public sector, tenured academics, were best suited to driving economic growth, the private sector.
How many in third level pay PRSI? Maybe the smart economy would become actual if a sizeable segment were released with redundancy to do their economic wizardry. Business academics must be straining their leashes at the prospect.
Note 2011 date!
When in a decade, or two you look for Ph.Ds to make your tea and take lectures and provide S#X &**&L favours, look downunder. For the first time, migrants get 20 points for satisfying their professors. Say byebye to your smart economy …….
“The paradox at the center of smart economy mis-thinking rest on the general principle that the public sector, tenured academics, were best suited to driving economic growth, the private sector”
@Alchemist I agree that tenured academics do not drive the private sector, nor should they. Their contribution should be to assist the private sector, by providing different perspectives on things. This requires the private sector to have enough vision to see value in a different perspective. By and large Irish business has been so caught up in its own hubris that it doesn’t value any perspective and it would never dream of cooperating with a university. Indeed some of the snide comments on this forum represent the anti-knowledge bias which has done some much damage in Irish society where it is a question of who you know not what you know. It is this bridging between academics and business that needs attention, not more big science.
The bureaucracy Irish academics have to deal with is ridiculous. At the same time, many university executives have an incredibly poor understanding of how to generate motivating structures for academics.
America, being decades ahead of European university systems (in terms of excellent output, salaries, and academic freedom) would be the way to go. It just won’t happen under the Irish political constrains, because the administrators would have to get rid of themselves first.