UK graduate-student researchers and at least one university association are welcoming an increase in PhD stipends for this academic year from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the nation’s largest public research funder. But the researchers are also calling for further reforms, such as better leave policies for those who are ill or are new parents, and for long-term improvements in salaries and working rights.
On 2 September, UKRI said that it would increase the minimum PhD stipend of £15,609 (US$18,700) by an additional 10% for the 2022–23 academic year, on top of the 2.9% rise previously announced. This increase brings the total to £17,668. The boost comes after widespread complaints from postgraduate researchers that the original stipend rise was effectively a funding cut, in view of rising inflation and living costs across the nation.
The increase, which takes effect on 1 October, will give PhD students around £2,000 more in this academic year. A UKRI spokesperson says that the agency will provide universities with the funds to finance the stipend increase, rather than expecting them to come up with it themselves. In a statement, the UKRI said that it decided to increase the stipend after considering complaints from PhD students and the research community, and reviewing policies supporting UK postgraduate research. “The response from the community made it clear that the work on stipends had to be prioritized,” said Melanie Welham, the agency’s executive champion for people, culture and talent, in the statement.
The stipend review is part of a UKRI initiative known as the New Deal for Postgraduate Research, which aims to improve conditions for postgraduate researchers and make the United Kingdom more attractive to a diverse range of PhD applicants.
Read the full article on the Nature Careers Website.