A SPECIAL allowance improperly paid to academic staff will cost taxpayers €1.8 million in 2013, the House Watchdog Committee heard yesterday.
Originally meant as an incentive granted in exceptional cases to attract high level academic staff, the allowance is paid to all professors and deputy professors of the Republic’s three public universities – University of Cyprus (UCY), Open University and Technical University.
Professors get around €11,000 per year while deputies receive €6,000.
UCY rector Constantinos Christofides said they were not against efforts to rein in the state payroll and that it was academic staff who first proposed a freeze in their wages in 2011.
“We know very well that the state is in a difficult position; we will do everything we can to help get out of this crisis,” he said.
Christofides said it was the university that had asked for a 20 per cent cut in the allowance last year and the same would happen this year also.
However, he suggested that the allowance must continue to some degree because there was still a need to attract good professors.
“The medical school will start operating soon and you do realise that we will not attract the professors of medicine we want in our country on €80,000 and €90,000 salaries,” Christofides said.
The UCY rector said important decisions will be made soon regarding the special allowance, adding that his proposal was identical to the Watchdog Committee suggestion for the allowance to be put on a more meritocratic basis.
EDEK MP Roulla Mavronikola said conditions were different when the allowance was introduced back in 1990 to attract high level academics.
If the allowances are so important to “maintain the high level of the university then let us grant them only to those who bring in research programmes and create jobs for unemployed scientists,” she said.
Green party MP Giorgos Perdikis was highly critical of academic staff, saying they appeared to care only about maintaining their “so-called wage rights.”