The €3,000 stipend increase for PhD researchers announced today, while welcomed, does not reach the level recommended in a recent independent report, nor is it a Living Wage, says the Union of Students in Ireland.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris today announced that the stipend for PhD researchers in state-funded positions will increase from €19,000 to €22,000 in January.

While this increase in a step in the right directions, it falls short of the increase to €25,000 USI called for in its Pre-Budget Submission, the amount recommended in the Independent National Review of State Supports for PhD Researchers, commissioned by Minister Harris’s office.

The increased amount does not even give PhD researchers, who contribute greatly to third-level institutes and Irish research in general, a payment equal to full-time minimum wage.

USI Vice President for postgraduate Affairs, Muhammad Mubashar Saeed said: “This stipend does not accurately reflect the invaluable contributions PhD researchers make to the academic community and to the advancement of knowledge in their respective fields. While some help, the increased stipend will still leave current researchers struggling financially, and it also greatly limits access to postgraduate research. Many people who already face financial barriers cannot even think of getting involved in PhD research, even if they are in a position academically to do so. State agencies paying a fair stipend would certainly help mitigate that issue.

“USI urges Government to re-evaluate this decision, and increase PhD stipend to €25,000, as proposed by the Independent National Review of State Supports for PhD Researchers. Such an increase would not only support the welfare and well-being of existing researchers, but it would also demonstrate a genuine commitment to prioritising academic excellence in Ireland and opening that path to more members of our society.”

USI also emphasises the need for equity in relation to PhD stipends – the increase should be uniformly applicable to all PhD researchers, irrespective of their funding source.

Limiting this adjustment solely to Science Foundation of Ireland and Irish Research Council-funded researchers will neglect a significant portion of the research community, and USI believes in equal recognition and support for all postgraduate researchers.

We look forward to further dialogue and positive action in support of our PhD research community.