The country’s Postgraduate Workers’ Organisation, which includes both domestic and international researchers from all academic disciplines, has said that non-EU researchers are simply unable to afford to live with the compounded issue of visa fees.
A letter, written to the Science Foundation Ireland – the single largest funder of PhDs in the country – and its director general, Philip Nolan, stresses that “non-EU postgraduate researchers face an inordinately large financial burden on an already small budget”.
Many are under financial pressure, the letter reads, with a €300-a-year cost to renew the Irish Residency permit compounded by an average €600 a year fee for health insurance.
The average researcher in Ireland is paid around €18,000 a year – while the country’s current national living wage is €11.30, coming to around €23,000.
The group argues that this “administrative burden” is pushing non-EU researchers “almost €1,000 further beneath an already” low salary.
“It is further tarnishing Ireland’s reputation as a great place to do research”
“During our current cost of living crisis, this is pushing non-EU researchers to breaking point, leaving many living in precarious or unsafe housing or relying on external support locally at their university for basic living needs.
“It is further tarnishing Ireland’s reputation as a great place to do research and damaging our position on the world stage,” the letter continues.
A member of Trinity College Dublin’s branch of the PWO called the request the “very least the funding bodies could do to help us”.
“The current system is not only elitist – favouring financially well-off non-EU researchers – but is also pushing many of us to have to extend our PhDs due to part-time jobs taking up a significant portion of the time and energy that we would like to devote to our research instead”, Saakya Anand-Vembar, a PhD candidate in psychiatry from India, continued.
Another member of the former PGWA – with which the PCAU merged to form the current Postgraduate Workers Organisation in February – at Maynooth, Bana Abu Zuluf signalled that non-EU PhD candidates are often “neglected” in the conversation surrounding expenses “they are forced to take on” under a low stipend.
“We are hit the hardest by the cost of living crisis and have yet to pay an annual cost of €1000+ for private medical insurance and to renew our IRP. You can’t complain about PhDs quitting when this is the condition you put them in,” Zuluf said.