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Open letter to UKRI Funding Body

Planned cuts to PhD stipends could impact a number of Postgraduate Research (PGR) students - find out more here...

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An open letter written by PGR students across the UK calling for extra funding has garnered over 8,000 signatures in just over three days.

The UKRI funding body has made the call to cut the rise in PhD stipends, a decision which has come under significant criticism. Your new PGR Officer, Kirsty Harrod, has signed the letter and encourages any Coventry University students interested to sign the letter and share the motion.

They explained exactly why these cuts to PhD stipends could be an issue for many PGR students.

“PhD stipends are how postgraduate researchers (PGRs) get paid. If you don't manage to secure one, you can do your PhD 'self-funded' - an option unavailable to researchers from working-class backgrounds.

“Most stipends (especially in fields outside of science) come from the UKRI funding body. If you get a stipend directly from a university, the amount you get is generally aligned with UKRI stipends.”

Kirsty told us why it’s so important to sign the letter and show your support.

“The problem is, these stipends aren't increasing in line with inflation. With an inflation rate of 11%, UKRI’s current plans represent a real-terms pay cut of £1,263.99.

“The majority of this stipend is already spent on living necessities, leaving little to no room to cope with the rising cost of living. As we're not considered employees, we are not eligible for other financial support aimed at those on low incomes, such as help with energy bills or childcare. And it's even worse for international researchers, who are on visas that prevent access to any public funds. Many PGRs already need to take on extra paid work to ensure they are able to pay their bills, which leaves less time for research.”

They have spoken to a number of fellow PGR students, who have serious concerns over the future of their course due to these funding changes. One told them they were “worried about being homeless after the PhD due to the precarity”, whilst another “cannot even think and afford being sick or pregnant, because that would represent a massive barrier for continuing my research”.

If you would like to read the letter, you can do so via Google Docs. You can then sign the open letter – this is open to all staff and students to sign – and pledge your support to Post Graduate Research across the UK.

 
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