PAC examines our universities' finances

McTell

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No
Here is a good reflexion on our higher-order thinking about, em, higher-order thinking.

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/universities-face-severe-criticism-over-use-of-public-funds-1.3150051


Who's paying for the unis? You are. But anything else they have stashed away is theirs, hopefully to be spent on port wines or large salaries. If the uni engages in a joint venture, and the uni does much of the work and gets 2% of the proceeds, well heyyy that's business.

I'd wondered how some heads of unis here get paid much more than the heads of inferior places like Oxford and Harvard. Obviously it comes out of some discretionary fund or other. Would the money not be better spent on student scholarships? No, of course not.

Time for the PAC to require consolidated accounts from them, as an obvious matter of good practice. The Dail should at least know the big picture before choosing how much to give every year.



The report is highly critical of several universities that have resisted declaring tens of millions of euro from private trusts and foundations in their accounts, despite pressure from regulators, according to well-informed sources.
It also raises concerns about unauthorised severance payments worth hundreds of thousands of euro, widespread noncompliance with procurement rules and significant financial losses linked to mismanagement.
Several colleges and universities are accused of misleading the Oireachtas committee and failing to provide full answers across a range of related issues.
The report also raises doubt about the Higher Education Authority’s capacity to oversee the sector, in the absence of sufficient staff numbers or resources.
 


statsman

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Here is a good reflexion on our higher-order thinking about, em, higher-order thinking.

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/universities-face-severe-criticism-over-use-of-public-funds-1.3150051


Who's paying for the unis? You are. But anything else they have stashed away is theirs, hopefully to be spent on port wines or large salaries. If the uni engages in a joint venture, and the uni does much of the work and gets 2% of the proceeds, well heyyy that's business.

I'd wondered how some heads of unis here get paid much more than the heads of inferior places like Oxford and Harvard. Obviously it comes out of some discretionary fund or other. Would the money not be better spent on student scholarships? No, of course not.

Time for the PAC to require consolidated accounts from them, as an obvious matter of good practice. The Dail should at least know the big picture before choosing how much to give every year.



The report is highly critical of several universities that have resisted declaring tens of millions of euro from private trusts and foundations in their accounts, despite pressure from regulators, according to well-informed sources.
It also raises concerns about unauthorised severance payments worth hundreds of thousands of euro, widespread noncompliance with procurement rules and significant financial losses linked to mismanagement.
Several colleges and universities are accused of misleading the Oireachtas committee and failing to provide full answers across a range of related issues.
The report also raises doubt about the Higher Education Authority’s capacity to oversee the sector, in the absence of sufficient staff numbers or resources.
Throw this into the mix: Timeline: How the University of Limerick expenses saga unfolded - Limerick Leader

Reportedly, expenses paid included a new fitted kitchen for one staff member.

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/how-university-of-limerick-expenses-claims-sparked-row-1.2824269
 

jacko

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PAC is a rare shining example of an effective Oireachtas ctte

All the committee are excellent but special mention to Mary Lou, David Cullinane and Alan Kelly who really get stuck in to witnesses with uncomfortable questioning
 

Lumpy Talbot

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Well in fairness some of these abuses should be referred to the Gardai as fraudulent. The good thing there would be the Gardai would be highly likely to recognise the culture where such abuses can take place.

Seriously though if some staff members at a University are having kitchens fitted at University expense this would be way beyond perks and well into diversion of what would at least be an element of public money.

I can't see too many Trust and Foundation or major individual donors being entirely happy with being presented with a case for support for funding a project and then finding out there is significant financial malfeasance at the University they have supported with a gift.

Of course many of the fundraising units attached to Universities will be registered as charities with the Revenue Commissioners so once again the subject of the lack of true governance within the charity sector also raises its head.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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No
PAC is a rare shining example of an effective Oireachtas ctte

All the committee are excellent but special mention to Mary Lou, David Cullinane and Alan Kelly who really get stuck in to witnesses with uncomfortable questioning
I agree with you on PAC and Fine Gael did have an expanded role for PAC as a manifesto commitment I seem to recall back in 2011 since which time that expanded role has been conspicuous by its absence.

there are many issues of governance in Ireland that could do with some attention from PAC with an expanded role.
 

Betson

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Well in fairness some of these abuses should be referred to the Gardai as fraudulent..
The one about illegal or abnormal severance packages been paid to people out of funds that should have nothing to do with such payments has been raised before , in any normal organisation it would be seen as fraud pure and simple. There was plenty of talk in the past about handing it over to the Gardai etc but as usual nothing ever happened about it , just like nothing will ever happen now.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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And the curious thing is that if those responsible were placed in a position where they have to resign from the University's finance committee or even higher in the secretariat it is entirely likely they would be looking for an enhanced payoff as well.

It is within the culture in Ireland- the 'top-up' for no reason whatsoever other than the person concerned is after it and those sitting on the cheque book are afraid of them going publicly disgruntled.

The rest is corruption- people sinking into a you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours mentality which can only end in a welter of embarrassment for the institution concerned and some private funding drying up as no donors want to support an organisation where corruption and financial malfeasance is obvious.

Something like the stuff that went on at Limerick would have the police involved in the UK I am pretty certain.
 

Sync

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Well worth while. What I would hope they engage in as well is an analysis on potential savings through economies of scale by centralising certain common purchases.

Agree on the above, the PAC is an example of a body that effectively holds users of the public purse to account. Needs to be protected and enhanced.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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No
Well worth while. What I would hope they engage in as well is an analysis on potential savings through economies of scale by centralising certain common purchases.

Agree on the above, the PAC is an example of a body that effectively holds users of the public purse to account. Needs to be protected and enhanced.
To be honest despite some mis-steps PAC has been just about the only bright spot in terms of governance in the past ten years since the crisis and that is no thanks to the governments we've had in that time which has schizophrenically tried to limit its remit rather than expand it at times.

It is a good model and should be buttressed by enhanced powers as you say including a significant overhaul of white collar crime and corruption sanctions on the statute book.
 

McTell

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No
Well in fairness some of these abuses should be referred to the Gardai as fraudulent. The good thing there would be the Gardai would be highly likely to recognise the culture where such abuses can take place.///

Yes, but if a board approves unusual spending, and has the power to do so, and has a quorum etc etc, they will turn around and say "we did everything by the book".

Likewise ministers who take advice, and follow the advice, even if they should know it is often wrong or biased. "I did everything by the book".


The problem with the public service generally is lack of accountability. Nobody will say "I called it wrong, I knew it was hard earned taxpayers' money, I was careless, and so I'm stepping down."
 

Golden Phoenix

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"I called it wrong, I knew it was hard earned taxpayers' money, I was careless, and so I'm stepping down."
When you put it into words, you realise how unthinkable it would be for a public official to ever utter it.
 

Vega1447

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Lumpy Talbot

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No
It was widdin de rules. No matter that the 'rules' constituted an open invitation to fraud and financial malfeasance, like.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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It appears that there may be criminals involved in the running the University of Limerick. Which is a pity as the University of Limerick has some notable academics and researchers.

I bet some of the wayward staff turn out to be connected with the GAA. The Gah have been arranging 'lecturer' status for their veterans for years in the University system- whether said veterans can read or not.
 

TakeitAll

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Here is a good reflexion on our higher-order thinking about, em, higher-order thinking.

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/universities-face-severe-criticism-over-use-of-public-funds-1.3150051


Who's paying for the unis? You are. But anything else they have stashed away is theirs, hopefully to be spent on port wines or large salaries. If the uni engages in a joint venture, and the uni does much of the work and gets 2% of the proceeds, well heyyy that's business.

I'd wondered how some heads of unis here get paid much more than the heads of inferior places like Oxford and Harvard. Obviously it comes out of some discretionary fund or other. Would the money not be better spent on student scholarships? No, of course not.

Time for the PAC to require consolidated accounts from them, as an obvious matter of good practice. The Dail should at least know the big picture before choosing how much to give every year.



The report is highly critical of several universities that have resisted declaring tens of millions of euro from private trusts and foundations in their accounts, despite pressure from regulators, according to well-informed sources.
It also raises concerns about unauthorised severance payments worth hundreds of thousands of euro, widespread noncompliance with procurement rules and significant financial losses linked to mismanagement.
Several colleges and universities are accused of misleading the Oireachtas committee and failing to provide full answers across a range of related issues.
The report also raises doubt about the Higher Education Authority’s capacity to oversee the sector, in the absence of sufficient staff numbers or resources.
In fairness there was a prime time investigates about the woeful waste of money in Irish Universities about a month or so ago. PAC doing what they should be doing but you'd wonder if the likes of prime time investigates didn't out these scandals they would probably be doing nothing.
 
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A better solution is to allow Reveneue Commisioners to investigate recipients of said expenses and benefits.

Non declaration of income is expensive so let people repay tax plus interest.
 

ShoutingIsLeadership

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Is there any way that Ed Walsh can be stripped of his pension and access to the airwaves?
 

McTell

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No
Part of the problem is the argument that we have to pay brilliant expert furriners way over the odds to come here and teach us.

Having agreed high attractive salaries, we end up employing mostly us locals at the higher rates. Resulting in a free money mentality.

There are lots of genuine uni sponsors out there like Martin Naughton, where his managerial advice and cop on might be more useful than his cash.
 

McTell

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No
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/richard-bruton-to-increase-powers-to-investigate-universities-1.3157051


So we sub the unis / 3rd level by 1,500,000,000 every year, that's 410k per day, without us they would implode.

Obviously most of what they do is good. But professors aren't best at running their own shows, only at managing to award each other salaries higher than Oxford and Harvard. That takes brains and guts; and a complete absence of public service.


"Minister for Education Richard Bruton is seeking powers to appoint investigators to examine “issues of concern” in higher education institutions.The proposal comes as universities face increasing pressure over their spending of public funds from the Higher Education Authority and the Dáil Public Accounts Committee.
At present the Minister only has the power to appoint a “visitor” to a university, as their governance is independent of the Department of Education. This has never previously been done and would only occur in cases where there have been egregious breaches of governance standards.
Following the change, which is to be announced on Monday by Mr Bruton, the Minister would have the power to appoint independent people to look into matters in universities or institutes of technology.
 


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