Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris has launched a public consultation regarding the support the State should be providing to PhD researchers.
The launch follows a meeting of the co-chairs of the independent National Review of State Supports for PhD Researchers, Dr Andrea Johnson and David Cagney, with Harris, who has encouraged public submissions.
Speaking on Friday, Harris stated: “We want Ireland to be a leader in talent, so we have to ensure that our brightest talent here in Ireland can pursue their research ambitions in a supportive environment. I look forward to receiving the report’s recommendations”.
The consultation comes alongside the co-chairs’ engagements with representatives of PhD students, which is due to be held over the next two weeks. The co-chairs also plan to consult with stakeholders in other European systems to understand the practice in other countries.
As part of Impact 2030: Ireland’s Research and Innovation Strategy, which aims to address Ireland’s social, economic and environmental challenges, the government committed to supporting all students in gaining experience and skills to help them succeed in the research and innovation space.
Speaking on this, Minister Harris said: “We are committed to investing in talent and ensuring that there are appropriate supports for researchers.”
The responses to the consultation will be compiled in a report by the co-chairs and reported to Minister Harris by the end of March 2023. The Minister will consider the recommendations of the report and may bring forward proposals before the end of June 2023.
The National Review of State Supports for PhD Researchers aims to address issues relating to current PhD researcher support; including visa requirements for non-EU students and the funding of research programmes.
Last week, the Union of Students in Ireland, (USI), criticised Minister Harris for delays in the National Review of State Supports for PhD researchers, calling for immediate engagement with representatives of PhD researchers to ensure their concerns are addressed.
The USI wrote to the Department of Further and Higher Education expressing concerns about lack of engagement with postgraduate students. Invitations to postgraduate representatives were issued later in the week.
Waqar Ahmed, the USI Vice President for Postgraduate Affairs, said they hoped the review would be conducted in a “transparent and inclusive manner”.
The consultation will be open until 10am on Monday, 13 March 2023.