For Oral Answer on : 21/09/2023
Question Number(s): 122 Question Reference(s): 40386/23
Department: Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
______________________________________________


QUESTION


To ask the Minister for Further and Higher Education; Research; Innovation and Science the way his Department is encouraging and supporting students to study to PhD level in Irish third-level educational institutions; the number of PhD qualifications awarded in each of these centres in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022; the amount expended by his Department in each of these years in direct support to PhD students; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY


Under Pillar 4 of our national Research and Innovation Strategy, Impact 2030, we have articulated very clearly the vision agreed across Government that, by 2030, “We will be a global leader in nurturing, attracting and retaining talent to drive research and innovation in our higher education and research system, enterprises, communities, communities and public services”.

In order to progress this commitment, I announced an independent national review of State supports for PhD researchers, appointing Dr Andrea Johnson and David Cagney as Co-Chairs. They submitted their first report to me last May which is available on www.gov.ie.

In this, a number of recommendations were made including one to increase the stipend level, with an optimum target of €25,000 subject to the availability of funding.  They acknowledge the potential ramifications of any such change on public finances and recognise that significant additional work will be needed in order give effect to such a recommendation.

The Co-Chairs are preparing a concluding review report and I look forward to receiving their independent final report shortly.

I would also like to bring the attention of the Deputy to the revised National Framework for Doctoral Education (NFDE) which I launched last June.  This Framework identifies the next steps to support and develop Ireland’s research culture, research capacity, and infrastructures via our higher education and research system and how best to ensure our researchers continue to produce research with impact nationally and internationally.  

Regarding the number of PhD qualifications awarded in Irish third-level educational institutions, the Higher Education Authority (HEA) is responsible for the collection, analysis and dissemination of all student and graduate data returned to the HEA from all HEA-funded institutions via the Student Record System.  The latest data available relates to the academic year 2021/2022.

Institute201920202021
Atlantic Technological University151010
Dublin City University95100100
Dundalk IT1055
Mary Immaculate College202025
Maynooth University707050
Munster Technological University201020
Royal College of Surgeons404550
South East Technological University302515
Technological University Dublin609055
Technological University of the Shannon101015
Trinity College Dublin320230330
University College Cork220180195
University College Dublin340290285
University of Galway170210255
University of Limerick140125120
Grand Total156014201530

With respect to costs expended in direct support to PhD students funding, the table below (extracted from the Co-Chairs’ first report on PhDs, which I mentioned above, outlines public expenditure on stipend supports for PhD researchers for 2021-2022:

Funded byEnrolmentsStipend
SFI/ IRC3,000€19,000
Higher Education Institutions2,000€9,640*
Other Competitive Funders**1,000€18,500
Self-funded (may be in receipt of external financial supports (from home country, etc), employed, or self-financed))  4,000***
 Total ~10,000 

* HEI awards are wide-ranging, typically anything from €5,000 to €18,500.  The estimated average per awardee was €9,640

** EU Marie Curie excluded; assumed to be not significant.

*** Excluded on the basis that these are not publicly-funded.

A breakdown on costs was available only for the academic year 2021-2022 (see above).  

The total number of PhD students between 2019 and 2022 is set out in the table below.

Academic YearNumber of PhD Students
2018-20198,643
2019-2020            8,890
2020-20219,532
2021-202210,013

Source: HEA