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To: Simon Harris, Minister for Higher and Further Education

Fair Pay for PhD Researchers

Implement a minimum stipend of €28k for all PhD researchers to match the stipends of new proposed PhD research positions

Why is this important?

A Aire Harris, a chara,

We are writing as representatives from the PhDs’ Collective Action Union (PCAU) to express deep concern with the current PhD stipend scheme in light of the cost of living crisis and coming inflation, as well as to address the grave inequality created by proposing €28k PhD stipends without increasing the pay for existing PhD researchers.

The PCAU officially formed 8 July 2022 after approximately 350 PhD researchers from across Ireland came together to address the increasing challenges facing PhD researchers in the current economy. We democratically selected our Union’s stance, and now are reaching out in accordance with the demands of those in our group.

We maintain that the current PhD stipend is insufficient on several accounts. All of Ireland, especially Dublin, has a cost of living crisis driven by increasing rents and rising inflation. The costs are even higher for non-EU researchers, who have to pay for health insurance and residence permits each year.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) reported an approximate 9.1% inflation of prices1 in the last year, which means that the current (average) stipend of €18.5k has the same purchasing power as a €17k stipend pre-inflation, when current first-year PhD researchers accepted their roles.

A recent survey conducted by leadership in SFI funded research groups2, shows that the financial burden impacting current researchers is having a real and consequential negative effect on researchers’ physical and mental health and ultimately their ability to perform research. researchers feel they are not valued, and some have expressed doubts as to the point of continuing when they could get much better-paid jobs in industry.

On top of that, Ireland recently announced a plan for a new PhD programme with a stipend of €28k per year3. In addition to the current €18.5k stipend being below both living and minimum wage, it is now creating a vast inequality where current PhD researchers will be performing equal work for only 66% of the pay of new researchers. This is not acceptable.

It is in the opinion of the PCAU that all PhD stipends must be increased to €28k in order to address inflation, the housing and cost of living crisis, and the new government valuation on PhD-level research as seen in their most recent PhD funding initiative.

We understand that this requires a lot of change, planning, and work. Therefore, we would like to request a meeting between you and our Acting President to discuss how PhD stipends can be brought to a livable and equitable value. Please contact us so that we can arrange a date for a meeting.

Is muidne, le meas,
An PCAU agus a lucht tacaíochta
The PCAU and its supporters

2. Please refer to the letter addressed to Dr Maysoun Mustafa, Scientific Programme Manager at SFI, on June 2nd, 2022.

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2022-08-19 12:08:55 +0100

1,000 signatures reached

2022-08-15 17:47:45 +0100

500 signatures reached

2022-08-07 00:18:43 +0100

100 signatures reached

2022-08-06 21:03:50 +0100

50 signatures reached

2022-08-06 20:44:54 +0100

25 signatures reached

2022-08-06 20:39:10 +0100

10 signatures reached