Skip to main content

To: Minister Simon Harris, Department of Further and Higher Education, Ireland

National Charter for Postgraduate Workers' Rights and Reform

The Postgraduate Workers Alliance of Ireland calls on the Department of Further and Higher Education to recognize the rights of postgraduates at Irish Universities and adopt the following reforms for the betterment of working and research conditions:

1. Recognition of PhD researchers as workers with employee status, contracts of employment, collective bargaining rights and public pension contributions. Contracts should cover research, childcare and administrative work. This should also include paid maternity, paternity and sick leave.

2. PhD researcher salaries should not be below the living income in the city where the PhD researcher is based. A budget for personal equipment (laptops, books, etc.) should be included in all state-funded PhD researcher positions.

3. An end to unpaid teaching and the recognition of all postgraduates performing teaching, research and pastoral work as workers with employee status, contracts of employment, collective bargaining rights and public pension contributions. This should also include paid maternity, paternity and sick leave.

4. Provision of and access to appropriate training, supports, resources and facilities for all postgraduates performing teaching work and pastoral work. This includes both face-to-face and online teaching.

5. Clear governance and transparency both within HEIs and the Higher Education Authority in decision making regarding matters relating to PhD and postgraduate workers. This includes appropriate PhD and postgraduate worker representation in those decision making processes. This also includes the establishment of an independent ombudsman within the HEA to ensure compliance with regulations, contractual responsibilities and to act as a mediator for any disputes that may arise.

6. End discrimination against non-EU PhD researchers. No special non-EU fees; no discriminatory points system for state scholarship applications; security of immigration status for all; adequate funding that covers all non-EU immigration costs (visas, Garda vetting); access to public healthcare; paid maternity, paternity and sick leave.

7. Clear information about welfare and housing support entitlements to PhD researchers. The extension of these schemes should include PhD researchers.

8. Allocation of affordable, HEI-owned student accommodation for postgraduates proportional to the HEI’s postgraduate population. Rent should be charged at no more than one-third of the average PhD researcher income. Accommodation should be fit for the housing of PhD researchers with families.

9. An end to precarity in higher education and research. The establishment of clear and secure career pathways for all workers in higher education and research.

10. Improved access and support for all who wish to pursue postgraduate research and teaching positions. This includes dramatic increases in funding to disability services to ensure HEIs are compliant with both the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006 and the Equal Status Act, 2000; ensuring compliance with the Athena SWAN charter in all HEIs; restoring funding to HEI health and mental health services to pre-2008 levels and expanding services to allow for universal, free healthcare for all staff and students.

Why is this important?

Postgraduate work at Irish Universities is systematically precarious and low paid, despite substantial financial barriers to accessing courses and degrees. These conditions allow Universities to generate large profits at the expense of those carrying out work and research in the sector. While rent and college fees have continued to increase, stipends and the conditions of postgraduates have remained mostly static, despite a pressing need for change. We are calling for an end to unethical treatment of postgraduates across institutions, and demanding reform for better working and research conditions.

We ask for your support in achieving these reforms through signing this petition. If you want to keep up to date with our campaign, be sure to follow us on Twitter ( and/or Instagram (, or drop us an email at [email protected]. This charter was signed on behalf of the Postgraduate Workers Alliances of TCD, NUIG, and UCD.

1 Marlborough Pl, North City, Dublin, Ireland

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL


2022-02-18 11:02:29 +0000

500 signatures reached

2021-05-22 21:14:37 +0100

100 signatures reached

2021-05-22 12:56:08 +0100

50 signatures reached

2021-05-22 11:37:17 +0100

25 signatures reached

2021-05-22 09:15:52 +0100

10 signatures reached