December 6, 2023

Earth Postgraduate organization of workerswhich includes domestic and international researchers from all academic disciplines, said that non-EU researchers simply cannot afford to live with the complicated issue of visa fees.

A letter written to Science Foundation Ireland – the country’s single largest PhD funder – and its chief executive, Philip Nolan, highlights that “non-EU postgraduate researchers face a disproportionate financial burden on an already small budget”.

Many are under financial pressure, the letter says, with the annual cost of renewing a residence permit in Ireland being €300, coupled with an average €600 a year health insurance fee.

The average researcher in Ireland is paid around €18,000 a year – while the current national living wage in the country is €11.30, which is around €23,000.

The group says this “administrative burden” pushes non-EU researchers “nearly €1,000 further below the already low salary”.

“It further damages Ireland’s reputation as a great place for research”

“During our current cost of living crisis, this is pushing non-EU researchers to breaking point, with many living in unsafe or unsafe housing or relying on external support at their local university for basic living needs.

“It further damages Ireland’s reputation as a great place for research and harms our position on the world stage,” the letter continues.

A member of PWO’s Dublin branch at Trinity College called the request “the least the funding bodies can do to help us”.

“The current system is not only elitist – it favors financially well-off researchers from outside the EU – but also forces many of us to have to extend our PhDs because part-time jobs take up a significant amount of time and energy that we would rather be devoting to our research,” continued Saakya Anand-Vembar, a PhD student in psychiatry from India.

Another member of the former PGWA – which the PCAU merged with to form the current postgraduate workers’ organization in February – at Maynooth, Bana Abu Zuluf, signaled that non-EU PhD candidates are often “neglected” in the conversation about spending “they are forced to accept” under the low scholarship.

“We have been hit hardest by the cost of living crisis and still have to pay the €1,000+ annual cost of private health insurance and renew our IRP. You can’t complain about a PhD being terminated when that’s the state you put them in,” Zuluf said.

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