PhD Stipends in Ireland

Some time ago I posted an item about the planned introduction of a higher PhD stipend (€28K) for a small number of research students in Ireland. It being obvious that he current level of PhD stipends (e.g. €18.5K per annum for IRC-funded studentships) being far too low, my main comment on that was that if that level is a fair level for a PhD then all PhD students should get it.

Now there’s an open letter going around signed by over 400 PhD students arguing for an uplift in their stipends. I support this wholeheartedly. I’m surprised there aren’t even more signatories than that, actually, but I think they have now opened it up again and let others sign it who didn’t know about it. I encourage all PhD students reading this to sign it

With inflation rampant at over 9%, even the IRC level of stipend is difficult for a student to live on (especially in the Greater Dublin area) yet many receive even less than that. Maynooth University, for example, funds many of its PhD students at the paltry level of €10K per annum. This is completely impossible to live on and it forces recipients to undertake large amounts of tutoring or other work (including bar work and retail) in order to get by financially. In my opinion stipends paid at this level are simply exploitative. I have argued repeatedly, but without success, for these to be scrapped.

The deliberate impoverishment of PhD students exists in order to force them to undertake extensive and poorly paid teaching duties because there aren’t enough teaching faculty to cover what is required. That situation is a direct result of the chronic underfunding of higher education in Ireland. Universities will argue that they don’t have any choice, but that doesn’t make the situation is acceptable.

Third level institutions don’t care. If they did they’d do something about it. Maynooth University ran up a surplus of €13.2M during the first year of the pandemic largely by exploiting unpaid overtime by lecturers and tutors, the latter predominantly PhD students. It could be used to provide emergency relief for PhD students but I bet it won’t be. In fact has anyone working at Maynooth received anything at all in return for generating this surplus?

It is of course good for a research student to get some teaching experience during their PhD but this should be on a voluntary basis. A PhD student who chooses to teach will probably do a better job than one who is forced to do it in order to pay the rent. My basic point, though, is that a full-time research student should be funded to do research full time, and it is grossly unfair to pay them too little for this to be possible.

One Response to “PhD Stipends in Ireland”

  1. The UKRI stipend for PhD students for 2022 start is £16,062 – about 19K Euros. This is an increase of 2.9% on 2021 amount, based on rate of inflation from Oct 2020 – Sept 2021. However UKRI is reviewing the stipend as part of its postgrad review – see

    https://www.ukri.org/news/ukri-considering-financial-support-for-research-students/

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