Government promises consultation with postgraduates in response to USI concerns over PhD supports review

USI expressed concerns about the lack of engagement with postgraduate researchers by the government review 

The Department of Further and Higher Education has said that it will meet with postgraduate researchers to consult on the review of PhD supports, in response to criticism over a lack of engagement.

According to USI, the department has said that invitations will be issued to representatives this week, with meetings to take place in the second week of March.

The Union of Students Ireland (USI) had written to government to express its concerns about the delay in the national review of state support for PhD researchers and the lack of engagement with researchers themselves.

They called for an update on the scheduling of meetings and for the department to outline a revised completion time of the review.

USI has reiterated the need for immediate engagement with PhD research representatives in the review process to ensure all concerns and demands are adequately addressed.

USI Vice President for Postgraduate Affairs, Waqar Ahmed said: “USI believes the postgraduate research community urgently needs help and reform, and we hope the review will deliver measures to improve working conditions.”

Ahmed added: “We are committed to supporting the postgraduate research community and are looking forward to engaging with the review co-chairs and other stakeholders to ensure the review is conducted in a transparent and inclusive manner.”

USI said that will submit its recently approved Postgraduate Researchers’ Rights Charter 2022 to the PhD review, which advocates for employee status for researchers, a minimum living wage, payment for all work and representation in decision-making bodies.

According to Vice President of TCD Postgraduate Workers’ Organisation (PWO) Eoghan Ross, USI has worked closely with the organisation on this charter.

The national review of state supports for PhD researchers was due to be completed early this year, but has been pushed back to the second quarter of 2023.