- 14 Sep 22
Staging demonstrations in Dublin and Galway today, Ireland’s PhD union highlights the unsustainable wages and challenges currently facing student researchers around the country.
In two protests organised today by the PhDs’ Collective Action Union (PCAU), PhD students are making their voices heard and demanding higher pay in light of current economic challenges.
In Ireland, PhD stipends are currently set below minimum wage. Amidst the ongoing housing crisis and oncoming inflation, the inequality in pay for student researchers is of major concern. The cost of living, especially for non-EU researchers in Dublin, continues to rise in relation to inflation and increasing rent prices.
The protests took place earlier today at NUIG in Galway and in Dublin outside of the Dáil. PCAU and supporters were also joined by other student activists and leaders, including USI president Beth O’Reilly and the TCD alliance, Students4Change.
— Beth O'Reilly 🏳️⚧️ (@BethOReilly) September 14, 2022
An online petition has also gained over 3,300 signatures so far, along with vocal support from multiple opposition parties. The petition, addressed to Minister For Higher and Further Education Simon Harris, asks for the implementation of a minimum stipend of €28k for all PhD researchers instead of the current €18.5k.
Representatives of the PCAU outline in the petition, “the current (average) stipend of €18.5k has the same purchasing power as a €17k stipend pre-inflation, when current first-year PhD researchers accepted their roles.”
The union formed in July of this year as the result of hundreds of PhD students across Ireland uniting to discuss challenging conditions in the current economy.
More importantly, recent news of a new PhD programme in Ireland with a stipend of €28k for year three places a divide between other researchers who are struggling to live off the cost of the current stipend, while continuing to do the same amount of work.
The protests emphasise the current reality of PhD students in Ireland and the unsustainable trials they are currently facing.
While they contribute to the economy through innovative research, PhD researchers remain ineligible for most benefits provided to those with worker status. In most EU countries, from France to Norway, Denmark, Sweden and more, PhD research provides fair salaries and worker benefits.
Along with the #EqualResearchEqualPay hashtag, PCAU posted live updates from the protest via Twitter. In a video from outside of the Dáil, acting PCAU president Jefferey Sardinia expands upon several trials PhD researchers in Ireland are facing at the moment, from below-minimum pay to unfair maternity/paternity leave.
— Clodagh Traynor (@traynor_clodagh) September 14, 2022
Through addressing Minister Harris, the PCAU understands the work that must be done to implement a higher stipend for PhD researchers, and is working toward meeting with the Minister in order to create a plan of action.
PCAU is still awaiting a meeting with the Minister. In the meantime, they ask PhDs, senior academics and any other supporters to sign the online petition.