Provost Patrick Prendergast has been in breach of government regulations on his salary since 2011, according to a report in the Irish Examiner today.
The Examiner cites an external audit report that found benefit-in-kind payments on Prendergast’s salary – which amounts to €201,000 a year – exceed the rate approved by the Department of Education.
College does not have government approval for the benefit in kind in question – related to expenses around his use of the Provost’s House – and hasn’t since he took office nearly 10 years ago.
Prendergast’s non-compliance, the document states, “may expose the organisation to significant financial and reputational risks”.
Prendergast’s salary and the results of the external audit were not discussed at a meeting of College Board when the body met last Wednesday, two Board members confirmed to The University Times.
The report stated: “It has been confirmed that the college does not have approval for the payment of benefits-in-kind. Consequently, the total remuneration exceeds the 2011 approval implication.”
College, according to the Examiner, sought a derogation from the government to account for the fact that Prendergast lives on campus, but the 2019 audit confirmed Trinity does not have government approval on the benefit in kind.
In an email statement to The University Times, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) President Laura Beston wrote: “TCDSU is incredibly disappointed to learn that the Provost of the college has been overpaid for the past 9 years.”
“This is an absolute outrage and the lack of transparency over higher end costs and salaries has contributed to why this has taken so long to come to light”, she said.
“With many students struggling financially and a myriad of issues facing our college pertaining to funding it is embarrassing to see that the comfort of an individual is prioritised over the experience of the student, the very reason we are a university.”
A statement from the College said: “This is a technical issue relating to benefit-in-kind. The provost is required to live on campus as part of his contract and it has been agreed that utility bills relating to this are treated as a benefit-in-kind.”
“Like many other employees, the provost pays tax on this benefit-in-kind making the total remuneration appear to be higher. The provost is, however, paid the standard salary.”
Last year, Trinity spent approximately €300,000 on refurbishments to the Provost’s House, according to figures released to The University Times after a freedom of information request.
In an accompanying statement, Victoria Butler, the assistant secretary to the College, said that the construction was completed under budget and on time.
Butler said that this was just “one project of a planned maintenance programme to ensure the conservation of the architecture and appropriate refurbishment of the buildings on our campus”.