Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Education and Skills

Further and Higher Education

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Limerick City, Fianna Fail)
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342. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a report into the circumstances of the purchase by University of Limerick, UL, of a property in Limerick city (details supplied); the progress of the investigation under the Universities Act of a pension irregularity at UL; if he has given consideration to initiating a visitation under section 20 of the Universities Act with regard to the management and governance failures at UL; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17133/22]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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I understand that the report referred to by the Deputy in relation to the circumstances of the purchase by University of Limerick (UL) of a property in 2019 has been received and is under review by UL.

In relation to the pensions matter referred to by the Deputy, that follows a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General in 2018 which highlighted concerns on the level of professional added years awards made by UL. The Department has reviewed the level of awards made between 2011 and 2018 in the university and a report has been prepared on the matter which looks at awards to professional, technical and academic staff in UL. The final report is currently the matter of discussions with the University and Department officials. It should be noted that the review was not specifically carried out under the Universities Act.

Finally, the option of the Department appointing a Visitor under Section 20 of the Universities Act 1997 is one my Department is always cognisant of when any issue with regard to a shortfall in governance and oversight in the University sector arises. However, taking into account the limited set of circumstances in which a Visitor can be appointed, the courses of action chosen have not included the appointment of a Visitor.

All of these matters remain under review. As the Deputy may also be aware, my Department has withheld some devolved capital funding from UL.


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