"We do have a department directory, which I have what we call 'admin' permissions on, so I can do anything I want in that directory and in that directory alone, hence why I can compile Perl in that directory"
We have a similar setup, this is where I built everything from the ground up, avoiding any Sun/Oracle stupidity. With some effort it all works, DBD::Oracle now running against Oracle 12c, various other versions before that.
"Face lifts don't fix the backend."
This is the real difficult problem which someone (perhaps not you) should address with urgency.