Written answers

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Department of Education and Skills

Further and Higher Education

Photo of Patrick CostelloPatrick Costello (Dublin South Central, Green Party)
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357. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if the recently announced new minimum annual stipend rate for PhD students of €28,000 will be expanded to include current PhD students given that currently they will be paid less for their work that students who newly enter the system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46640/22]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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The new PhD programme to which the Deputy is referring is Innovate for Ireland.

The Taoiseach and I recently launched Innovate for Ireland, which is a new partnership between industry and the Government to recruit and retain research talent to Ireland. A stipend of €28,000 will apply to PhD students on the new Innovate for Ireland programme.

Innovate for Ireland will commence in 2023 and the initial phase will seek to attract up to 400 high calibre PhD students to undertake research in Ireland that tackles national and global grand challenges such as climate change and climate adaptation; global health and pandemics; water poverty; digital society; and cyber-security.

This programme aligns with my Department's Strategy Statement 2021-2023 and also the strategic goals of the Government’s recently launched R&I strategy, Impact 2030.

In relation to stipends in general, they are frequently a feature of funding globally, providing an income to the awardee in recognition of the need to devote themselves on a full-time basis to their research.

My Department is monitoring the issue of stipends, in the context of the resources available and the competing needs to which they can be allocated. In that regard, I allocated additional funding to the IRC in 2021 to enable it to increase postgraduate scholarship by €2,500 per annum, or 16%. This was made effective from 1 January 2021 and, together with an increase to funding for postdoctoral salaries, benefited close to 1,300 early-career researchers in the system. The move also aligned the stipend level for the Irish Research Council (IRC) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI).

I am examining a range of options to support students in this year’s Budget, including PhD students.

Impact 2030, Ireland’s Research and Innovation Strategy prioritises the nurturing and development of talent and excellence to build on Ireland’s reputation as an Island of Talent and a location for research excellence and impact. The strategy recognises that the quality of our researchers is fundamental to the quality of our research system, its collaboration with partners in industry and policymakers, both in Ireland and abroad. The strategy also highlights the need to foster an environment within the research and innovation community that supports our ambition to be an Island of Inclusion and Engagement.


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