Trinity spent more than a quarter of a million euro last year on business class flights for academic staff. Records released under the Freedom of Information Act show that College spent a total of €259,084 on luxury flights last year.
This revaluation comes just days after Trinity called for greater government investment due to its declining place in the world university rankings.
The figures show that in total, publicly funded universities universities in Ireland spent around €1.5 million on luxury flights last year, with University College Dublin (UCD), being the biggest spender, racking up an air travel bill of more than €960,000.
Trinity declined to give an explanation for individual business class flights for its staff last year but divided expenses up into several categories. College claimed that €30,000 in flights were to “non-EU student markets”, €20,000 was for research projects and approximately €15,000 was for business meetings. However, that leaves €47,000 unaccounted for in Trinity’s flight expenses, simply labelled “Other”.
Almost €150,00 of Trinity’s flights were related to the university’s links to the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), with which it runs joint degrees in physiotherapy, occupational therapy as well as radiography and radiation.
A College spokesperson stated: “A vast bulk of the flights were for Dublin-based Trinity staff who teach part-time in Asia and help generate significant financial surpluses for Trinity.”
“These fly-in staff teach for intensive teaching periods at the campuses of SIT as well as their normal teaching in Dublin.”
University College Cork (UCC) said that it spent €96,978 on business class and premium flights last year, Dublin City University (DCU) claims to have spent €32,632 on economy as well as business and first-class flights, while NUI Galway spent €36,700.
Maynooth University had an air travel bill of almost €550,000, however the university claims that it “does not hold records of individual flights centrally” and there were no more than four business class flights purchased last year.
Technological University Dublin (DIT) paid one first class flight to Slovenia, at a cost of €513.
Air travel records for UCD show staff booking premium seats at a cost of up to more than €6,000 for a single fare. These flights included academic trips to Shanghai, Brisbane and Australia.