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Mairéad Farrell TD calls for precarious work in third level teaching and research to be addressed

26 May, 2023 - by Mairéad Farrell TD

Mairéad Farrell TD, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, has called on Minister Harris to address the issue of precarious working conditions for PhD researchers and early academics in third level institutions.

Teachta Farrell said:

“For too long the talk about this state building a knowledge economy has not matched the reality on the ground. Nowhere is this clearer than in the treatment of PhD researchers and early career academics.

“These are the people who are supposed to be doing the research upon which this knowledge economy will be based.

“This week in Leinster House we heard about the shocking levels of precariousness faced by many in the sector. One Teaching Fellow in Trinity College Dublin became homeless for a time because he had no income during the summer months.

“There is a huge problem in the sector with what are essentially zero hour contracts. According to the there were 11,200 lecturers working these short term temporary contracts.

“It seems incredible in this day and age that we are still allowing these types of contracts.

“We know the negative impact they have on financial security with impacts on the ability to get a 12 month lease or applying for a mortgage.

“We know they impact social insurance contributions and often you cannot get sick leave or maternity leave.

“We know from a health perspective they can induce anxiety and mental health issues.

“But the good news is that we have the Future of Funding report which was produce last July. It was signed off by a joint Oireachtas committee made up of all parties.

“So there’s a clear consensus here, but we cannot allow this to become something akin to Slaintecare where everybody signs up and then little progress is made.

“The time has come for action. This state won’t be able to build a knowledge economy off the back of precarious labour."

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