Dublin City University president Ferdinand Von Prondzynski and the president of NUI Galway James Browne received almost €60,000 in expenses between them over the past two years. Browne got €35,000 in expenses with Von Prondzynski claiming more than €22,000. In total, top management in six Irish colleges racked up expenses of €170,000, documents obtained by the Sunday Tribune show.
Overall, the top four staff in NUI Galway claimed combined expenses of almost €70,000 since January 2008. Freedom of Information documents show that among the costs, Browne spent €5,572 on travel abroad and €4,662 on air and boat trips, with one transaction alone costing €3,722. He also claimed €2,237 in hospitality.
In DCU, the overall cost of refunded expenses for the top four academics totalled €53,068, with outgoing president Ferdinand Von Prondzynski being refunded €22,154 in expenses.
Documents also show that since January 2008, the top four management staff at the University of Limerick were reimbursed a total expenses bill of €22,029.
In University College Cork, president Michael Murphy filed expenses of €1,832 since January 2008, the majority of which was spent on travel and subsistence.
Fine Gael spokesman for education Brian Hayes criticised the expenses saying they "highlight the amount of waste in Ireland's third-level sector".
"This is made all the worse by the fact that we know that in the cases of two of our universities, one-third of the monies received from the student registration fee are being redirected into the core funding for the colleges and not into student services. Minister O'Keeffe needs to take action but given his track record, I would not hold my breath."
Mike Jennings, General Secretary of the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) has said he is "bitterly disappointed" and said the figures are damaging to the third-level sector.
"The whole concept of collegiality is being broken in Ireland. The idea was that we all operated on the same level is falling apart. There seems to be one set of laws for ordinary rank-and-file staff in colleges and another for the upper echelons. At a time when universities are creaking at the seams, it is so disappointing and morale breaking to see this," he said.
The expenses are on top of salaries, which for university presidents are in excess of €200,000