Queen's appoints 18 highly paid academics amid cutbacks
A DOZEN senior managers appointed as part of a major restructuring by Queen's University stand to take home more money a year than the First Minister.
As academics at Queen's prepare to take part in a UK-wide strike over pay, it has emerged that the university is spending millions on new top staff.
It has already appointed seven highly-paid managers, while another 11 have been given "positions of responsibility" on a part-time basis.
Students and staff have been highly critical of the university over cuts to jobs, student numbers and courses, the planned merger of university schools and tough research funding targets for probationary lecturers.
Members of the University and College Union will walk out on Wednesday and Thursday next week in protest at a 1.1 per cent pay offer, claiming they have suffered a cut of 14.5 per cent in real terms since 2009.
A response to a Freedom of Information request by the Irish News revealed that 142 staff left Queen's under voluntary severance/early retirement in 2015.
Of these, 57 were academic staff, 36 academic-related, 23 were technicians and were 26 clerical/library assistants.
The university has been busy recruiting too. A total of 424 staff were appointed between 2011 and 2015.
As part of a restructuring exercise, Queen's has appointed three pro-vice chancellors, three directors of operations and 12 faculty deans, the response revealed.
The Irish News asked the university to provide the salary range for each of these 18 senior appointments, but it has so far not responded.
Salary scales for most positions are readily available on the university's website, however.
The deans are in the `professorial' salary range, which according to the website starts at £60,938 and ends at £126,711.
This means they are higher paid at the top of their scale than the first and deputy first ministers at Stormont, whose annual salaries for the last three years have been £120,000.
The three new directors of operations at Queen's, meanwhile, can earn up to £78,801 a year.
Queen's, whose most senior manager, Vice-Chancellor Patrick Johnston, is paid in the region of £250,000, pointed out that the dean appointments are "positions of responsibility, and have been recruited from within the existing professoriate on a part time basis".
The university has also said that the appointments "mark another important Vision 2020 milestone, to create strong and visible academic leadership in delivering institutional priorities at a faculty level".