Over 1,000 postgraduates to see €2,500 boost in stipend

The “enhanced” funding has been welcomed by members of the IRC and GSU President Gisèle Scanlon

Over 1,000 early-career researchers are to benefit from a boost in government funding to the Irish Research Council, with an increase in the council’s postgraduate stipend from €16,000 to €18,500.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris has announced an increase in the value of the IRC’s research scholarships and fellowships, which is expected to impact around 1,300 researchers.

Funding of €3.2 million to the IRC will “better support postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers in Ireland across all disciplines”, and “directly benefits close to 1,300 early-career researchers across our higher education and research system”, the council said.

The additional investment is intended to “fulfill the long-standing priority” of the IRC to “improving the support” for its funded postgraduate and postdoctoral research.

Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) President Gisèle Scanlon said the move would have a positive impact on graduate students in arts, humanities and social sciences who benefit from the IRC’s funding.

“Finally today we see a positive change,” Scanlon said.    

Speaking to Trinity News, Scanlon said: “I’ve been lobbing the minister since he took office and the minister before him and the IRC for this for over two years.”

“Our union lobbied for this when no one did. It’s a long time coming and today is a good day for researchers,” she said. 

The GSU President continued to explain the move “would have a positive impact on graduate students in all college disciplines, but arts humanities and social sciences PhDs would most likely benefit the most from this increased IRC funding”.

The Irish Research Council’s postgraduate stipend will increase from €16,000 to €18,500 per annum, and funding for its postdoctoral researchers will also increase. 


 In addition, the IRC is increasing the annual funding for research consumables from €2,250 to €3,250 on its individual postgraduate awards. 

The total annual value of an individual postgraduate award will increase from €24,000 per year to €27,500 in 2021.

Announcing the additional funding, Harris said that the IRCs goal is to “attract the very best talent into research across all disciplines, and alignment of funding for their stipends and salaries with national norms is essential in achieving that objective”. 

“We know we have much work to do in this area, but I hope this sends a strong signal,” Harris said.

Chair of the IRC and Trinity Professor Jane Ohlmeyer said that the additional funding is “an investment in our most precious resource – our human capital”.

“It is excellence in people across all disciplines that will determine our success in meeting the national and global challenges we face now and in the future,” she said.

Director of the Irish Research Council, Peter Brown, also welcomed the increase in stipends.


Brown said the move is “excellent news for our early-career researchers, who are of course the future of our research eco-system”.

“The Council Executive has worked closely with the Department on this issue and the priority given by the Minister to addressing it as part of Budget 2021 is very welcome,” Brown said.

“Achieving a position where we are reflecting national benchmarks for the remuneration of early-career researchers is part of our strategic plan 2020-2024, and we are very pleased to be making clear progress in this regard.”

Funding for postgraduate and PhD students has long been a contentious issue, with researchers expressing concerns over not receiving a livable wage.

Postgraduate students in Trinity established a Trinity PhD workers’ rights group in 2019 with a view to advocating for student workers’ rights in Trinity and other higher education institutions in Ireland.

An investigation by Trinity News in November found that numerous members of Trinity’s casual teaching staff  had not received a written terms of employment from College despite a legal requirement that came into effect in 2019 and a promise by College last year.

Teaching assistants and demonstrators in the Schools of HIstories & Humanities, Engineering, and Computer Science and Statistics confirmed they had not received written terms of employment.

This article was updated on Monday February 1 at 13:33 to include an additional statement from Gisèle Scanlon

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the Editor-in-Chief of the 69th volume Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister student of English Literature and Philosophy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.