Government announce national review of state supports for PhD researchers

The review will evaluate what supports are currently in place, as well as what impacts potential adjustments may have for researchers

A national review of state supports for PhD researchers is to begin next month, government has announced.

The review will include an evaluation of current financial supports that are in place, as well as a review of the adequacy, consistency and equity of arrangements for PhD researchers, including equity and welfare considerations.

It will also take into account the status of PhD researchers, as students or employees, graduate outcomes or “return on investment” for PhD graduates, and visa requirements and duration for non-EU students.

The impact of potential adjustments to current supports on the funding of research programmes will be considered in the review.

In a tweet yesterday evening, Provost Linda Doyle welcomed the review, saying: “It is good to see this review announced. In Trinity we are looking into similar issues through our PG renewal programme.”

Doyle added: “A properly funded sector is key for Higher Education Institutes so that we can deliver things like a #PhDLivingStipend. Look forward to engaging!”

Speaking yesterday, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Innovation, Research and Science Simon Harris said that he was “pleased” to announce the new initiative, adding that he had met with researchers over the past year “who have made it clear there are a range of issues facing them”.

“Some of these are financial but there are broader issues too,” Harris said.

Harris said that government has “committed to investing in talent, and ensuring that there are appropriate supports for researchers,” and referenced Impact 2030, a strategy launched in May which aims to make research and innovation central to Ireland’s response to social, economic and environmental challenges.

He continued: “This review will hear from the frontline. Its first step will be to engage with relevant stakeholders including PhD researchers, host institutions, research funders, employers and relevant government departments such as Health, Agriculture, Food and Marine, and Justice.”

“We want Ireland to be a leader in talent. In order to do that, we have to ensure that our brightest talent here in Ireland can pursue their research ambitions in a supportive environment” he continued. “I look forward to receiving the report’s recommendations in early 2023.”

PhD researchers and those with teaching duties have demanded better working conditions and pay increases.

An increase of PhD stipends to €28,000 a year was a key demand of the Union of Students in Ireland’s (USI) national Student Walkout last week.

In September, USI joined the PhDs’ Collective Action Union (PCAU) in a protest outside the Dáil with the same demand.

The review will begin in November, and is due to be completed in early 2023.

David Wolfe

David Wolfe is a Junior Sophister student of History and Political Science. He is the current Social Media and Managing Editor of Trinity News, having previously served as News Editor, Assistant News Editor and copyeditor.