University of Limerick spends over €1 million on consultants

18 December 2020 2 min. read
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A freedom of information request has revealed that the University of Limerick spent over €1.4 million on external consultants over the last five years. Of the four firms contracted, Deloitte was the biggest recipient, being paid more than €700,000 since 2015.

Founded in 1972, the University of Limerick is a higher education institution in Limerick, Ireland. In recent years, the institution has come under fire for a number of its spending policies. In 2017, an RTÉ Investigates investigation highlighted a number of incidents in the third-level sector, including evidence of breaches of ethics and procurement laws at the University of Limerick – such as two lump sum severance packages of €231,000 and €220,000 being paid to senior staff who were then awarded consultancy contracts. A Comptroller & Auditor General investigation declared the payments were excessive.

Now, the University has come under further scrutiny for its consulting spending, after it emerged that the institution has spent more than €1.4 million on four advisers and external consultants over the past five years. While seeking to overcome its noted governance and HR issues, the consultants "provided strategic and operational services," the college said.

University of Limerick spends over €1 million on consultants

As reported by the Irish press, records obtained under freedom of information show half of the spend on external consultants went to international auditor Deloitte, which was paid €718,035 over the past five years. The firm previously carried out a report finding 42 instances of concern at the university. This included inaccurate and incomplete information about severance payments made to former staff members had been provided to the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Department of Education, the university’s own legal advisers and the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Over the same period, spending records show also found a hefty €408,000 was paid by the University of Limerick to Prospectus Management Consultants, a Dublin-based firm which aims to help organisations implement new strategies. Another €267,956 was paid to long-time advisor John Moroney – whose director, John Moroney, had previously spoken publicly on the university’s behalf, represented the university and attended events with its officials.

Finally, consultancy firm Athrú, which specialises in human resources and organisational development, was paid €40,080. Following an independent report recommending the university review its management structures, the firm was hired to help see the process through.

Speaking on the findings, a spokesman for the university told Irish news source that the companies helped the institution's "strategic development, organisational design, auditing and policy development."