Sinn Féin spokesperson on Higher and Further Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Mairéad Farrell TD, has given cautious welcome to the findings of the independent review of state supports for PhD researchers.
The report highlights insufficient financial supports, in particular the stipend, issues encountered by non-EU PhD researchers, and the need to improve prospects for PhD graduates.
Teachta Farrell stated:
“The issues faced by PhD students here have been raised for a significant length of time and I’m glad that we have one of the first dedicated reports on this.
“The government’s recent White Paper on Industrial Policy spoke about the importance of creating the jobs of the future and making Ireland a key for hub for research and development.
“PhD researchers will be key to this and there is a serious risk if the issues facing them aren’t addressed that we would be cutting the legs out from under ourselves.
“The report makes several key recommendations, and I am aware these don’t go as far as some of the organisations representing PhD students were calling for.
“For example, some were seeking recognition of employment status and access to PRSI. These are obviously important concerns but would require further examination from a legislative perspective.
“It has been recommended that the stipend be increased to €25,000, which if done, would improve the lives of many PhD students, who have a significant amount of their stipend eaten up by housing costs.
“However, a report is only a report. We now need to see the required follow through from government. Nice aspirations need to be met with concrete actions.
“The Minister has said that the actions outlined in the report would have to be met through the normal budgetary process, so all eyes will be on the government come Budget 2024.”