Five Irish universities have ignored a Government directive to cut back on all discretionary payments to staff by “gifting” free pension years costing tens of millions of euro to academics and others. The universities have given 748 free pension years to 200 retiring employees, in addition to their regular pensions.
The Sunday Times asked Hewitt Associates, an actuarial firm, to price this concession and they put it at between €14 million and €22 million in the past year. Over the last five years, the universities have granted in excess of  2,700 free years to more than 640 staff and lecturers. The institutions involved are Trinity, University College, Dublin, University College, Cork, NUI Galway and Maynooth.
The universities claim that the provision of added years has been in place for decades and has therefore become a “de facto entitlement” which staff have come to expect. Two years ago the Government agreed to take over the pensions funds of the universities when they fell into deficit. The Department of Finance set a precondition at the time that the trustees would “take all possible action to ease pressure on the funds”.


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