Sir, – I am delighted to see that some fortunate PhD students will be offered a ¤28,000 stipend through the new “Innovate for Ireland” partnership between the Government and private industry (”Government launches ¤100 million programme in attempt to recruit high-level researchers “, News, July 1st).
This is welcome news to students who are an often overworked, overlooked, and underfunded part of our national research output, who balance fundamental scientific research, teaching, lab supervision and paper writing to elevate Ireland to its high global research rankings.
However, I am concerned that this will create a two-tier system in universities, where some lucky students on ¤28,000 may be able to afford the cost of housing and living, whereas students funded under Irish Research Council or Science Foundation Ireland grants will be subject to a limit of ¤18,500, and struggle to make ends meet.
Having somehow managed to keep a roof over my own head in Dublin during my PhD studies, I am alarmed that students now face rents at least twice as high as I did in 2013 on a similar stipend, with little left over for basic necessities such as groceries, transport and healthcare.
The Government should urgently review all PhD stipends in light of inflation, rising rents, and the value their work brings to our research institutions. It should also review what long-term opportunities exist in research careers in Ireland to keep these students here after their studies, and pre-emptively avoid funding a brain-drain of our top talent to other countries with better career outlooks. – Yours, etc,
A chara, – A worthy initiative indeed by Minister for Research and Innovation Simon Harris. One wonders, though, will any practical steps be taken for the existing thousands of Phd graduates who have already graduated over the past 10 years?
Currently the vast majority of these graduates have little or no employment.
They are paid by the hour, and have no contracts, let alone tenure!
This is not entirely the fault of third-level institutions, which have suffered from years of under investment by the Government.
Simon Harris should look to our already existing pool of PhD graduates and harness their qualifications, intelligence, talent and energy before we lose them to emigration. – Yours, etc,