Media Coverage

Instant noodles and extra jobs: PhD candidates ‘barely scraping by’ on stipends below minimum wage

29 Jan 23

Original Article

Students are pleading for reforms amid rising rent and cost of living, as experts warn research could suffer if people are put off higher study

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In Australia, every full-time PhD candidate is entitled to apply for a federal government tax-free scholarship. It’s currently sitting at $29,863, although it increases each year with inflation.

The Greens education spokesperson, senator Mehreen Faruqi, said government support for doctoral students was “completely inadequate” and should be lifted.

“With the rising cost of living, many students are barely scraping by,” she said.

“If we want Australian universities to produce the best quality, world-leading research, the government has to provide our researchers with a stipend to support themselves and ease cost of living pressures.”

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations has been lobbying the government to classify PhD students as employees, which would enable greater leave entitlements and a guaranteed minimum wage. They say the minimum stipend should be increased by at least 15 to 20% in 2023 to ensure it remains above the poverty line.

“The work is the same, why aren’t we paid the same?” said Errol Phuah, the association’s national president.