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Art critics July 16, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

This entertains me, but not in a good way. The story that…

CIT president Dr Brendan Murphy has confirmed that two portraits were commissioned from artist Mick O’Dea, a member of Aosdána, in 2007.
Dr Murphy said the college – which is carrying a €1 million deficit – spent a further €2,214 on framing his portrait and that of Dr Paddy Caffrey, who was chair of its governing body until 2008.
The details are contained in new correspondence sent to the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which has been examining the financial accounts of a range of third-level institutions.


The spending on the portraits was first documented in an audit by KPMG which found the college had breached its own procurement policies by not selecting at least five quotations for the portraits.

And then there’s this:

Members of the PAC have expressed surprise at why students at CIT’s Crawford College of Art and Design had not been considered.

Now that’s actually a very good question indeed.

Fianna Fail TD Marc MacSharry said his research indicated that portraits of two previous holders of these offices – director Patrick Kelleher and and chair Donal O’Rourke – were completed by a student at the college for a fee in the region of €500.
Dr Murphy told the committee when he was questioned by Senator MacSharry that he was unaware of any such previous arrangement.

Well now.

And why the President of an institution? Why not all the staff? And by all the staff I mean all the staff – I’ve noted before an institution I am aware of where cleaners and other ‘non-academic’ staff went to public events and such like on a separate bus to ‘academic staff’ (and this hierarchical approach had very real effects with the sub-contracting out of cleaning services etc, etc and deuinionisation etc…).

Indeed why have painted portraits in an age of photography? Why have portraits at all? What is the self-perception that drives these dynamics more widely?


1. Dermot O Connor - July 16, 2017

Incredible. These small pond big fish seem to think they’re the bloody Medici!


2. sonofstan - July 17, 2017

This is presumably what HE administrators mean when they talk about running educational institutions ‘like a business’


Michael Carley - July 17, 2017

I refer the honourable gentlemen to the words of My Lord Adonis:

My Lords, I want to ask the Minister two specific questions, of which I have given him prior notice. Do the Government believe that average salaries of £275,000 for England’s vice- chancellors are justified? What do the Government intend to do to cut vice-chancellors’ pay?

I specifically refer to the University of Bath. Bath is a mid-ranking university among the UK’s 130 higher education institutions. It has barely a fifth of the income of the University of Cambridge. A majority of that income comes from tuition fees, and most of the rest from state research grants, so students and the Government have a predominant interest in the university. This year, the university is paying salaries in excess of £100,000 to 67 staff. Of those 67, 13 are paid over £150,000.

Last year, the vice-chancellor earned £406,000. This year, despite the 1.1% cap on pay for non-managerial staff across the higher education sector, the vice-chancellor’s pay rose by 11%, to £451,000. On top of this, the vice-chancellor, Glynis Breakwell, earns £27,000 from three non-executive directorships, which she apparently has time to undertake alongside being a full-time vice-chancellor. She also has a large house in the historic centre of Bath—a benefit in kind worth £20,000 a year. Put all that together, and Glynis Breakwell is paid almost exactly half a million pounds—more than three times the Prime Minister’s salary.

The University of Bath has a remuneration committee and governing bodies to decide these matters and prevent abuse. The problem is that the governing council is mired in controversy over this precise issue. In February, after an intense debate, the university court voted by the narrow margin of 33 votes to 30 not to censure the remuneration committee. However, that majority of three included the vice-chancellor herself and the very members of the remuneration committee whose conduct was in question. I have been contacted by many members of the university, staff and students. One member of the court has written to me, and has given me permission to quote his words to the House. He says:

“I find the failures of governance and unchecked self-serving senior management to be sources of nauseating embarrassment and inevitable reputational harm to a university otherwise comprised of wonderful, hard-working, and dedicated students and staff”.

If this is not a case for HEFCE and the Government to intervene, I do not know what is.

People often say that top pay is only one brick in the wall and it does not make much difference to the whole edifice what people at the top are paid. However, this is to miss the crucial point that top pay is just the apex of the pay structure, and it determines ​what happens across senior management within an organisation. The fact that the vice-chancellor is paid £500,000 makes possible the pay of more than £100,000 for the 66 others at Bath University whom I mentioned. Take those 67 salaries together, and the total is £8.7 million. That is £8.7 million out of the university’s budget of £283 million—a sizeable chunk. If that £8.7 million were halved, it would save £4.4 million—the budget of many secondary schools.
A final point is that the highly paid should set an example, particularly at a time of pay restraint. The only example the vice-chancellor of the University of Bath is setting to her staff is one of greed. That is not my idea of a university; I doubt it appeals to your Lordships either. So I hope the Minister will tell us what the Government will do to stop it.



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