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Review must deliver urgent reform for struggling PhD researchers - Rose Conway-Walsh TD

23 March, 2023 - by Rose Conway Walsh TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Rose Conway-Walsh TD, has called for fast-tracking of the PhD researcher review and reforms to be brought forward urgently to help PhD researchers cope with the cost-of-living crisis.

Teachta Conway-Walsh said:

“I would like to commend PhD researchers for organising across the island as Postgraduate Workers Union to demand better conditions.

“They are a vital part of our research and higher education systems. Yet they are paid far below the minimum wage.

“PhD researchers should be classed as workers not students, and should be entitled to worker benefits such as sick leave and maternity leave.

“The Minister's opposition to this simple reform simply does not stack up. Apprentices, carpenters, plumbers, etc are all recognised as being in learning roles, but are also recognised as workers and provided with employment contracts.

“PhD researchers, like everyone else, have been struggling with the rising cost of living. They have seen rents increase by over 82% in the last 10 years. Yet the stipend they receive has not kept pace. They are typically paid between €16,000 to €19,000 for a full-time role.

“Higher Education has been left in austerity mode by successive governments. PhD researchers have been at the sharp end of the failure of government to invest in research and education.”

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