PhD Researchers in the University of Galway will deliver a petition which calls for the immediate reversal of the Graduate Teaching Policy (GTA ) to the president, Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh and deputy president and registrar, Pól Ó Dochartaigh.
The GTA policy, which was introduced in September this year, saw the working terms of PhD researchers and lecturers unequivocally changed with no little to no warning to those it impacts. Under the new policy, the GTA saw substantial payment reductions for PhD workers and removed previous claimable activities such as exam correction, work relevant emails and other required administrative duties.
Speaking to The Galway Advertiser regarding the situation back in September, a PhD student, one who wished to remain anonymous, said the changes would see their income cut by thousands this year. “We have to do 38 hours of research a week, so teaching was a lifeline for me and it was nice, being a part of the university and aiding our career progression as well. We can’t even turn down the new contracts because we’re so reliant on teaching.
“I’ve been in discussions with my line manager and it’s just been kind of left up to us, we haven’t even been given an option or a kind of take it of leave it, it’s just a ‘this is your pay deal with it,” they said.
Now two months later, the full impact of the GTA policy on PhD students and educators in the university has been felt. Tomorrow, Friday November 11, the Postgraduate Workers Alliance (PGWA ) will deliver the petition made up of over “hundreds of staff, faculty and students, including over 200 PhDs”, to the president and deputy president and registrar.
A spokesperson from the PGWA said, “The new policy raises serious concerns for our community and comes amidst a growing cost of living and housing crisis, which rapidly deteriorated our ability to have a living wage. Schools within the university have interpreted the policy differently, creating further confusion and pay disparity among PhDs.
“What we are looking for is extremely straightforward. Firstly, we want to see the immediate reversal of this decision to reduce teaching pay. Secondly, we want the university to recognise us as formal employees, guaranteeing us maternity leave, sick leave, and holiday pay. Thirdly, we want to see the university make a sincere effort to ensuring PhD workers are paid a living wage of €28,000 per annum.”
Representative of University of Galway’s Governing Authority, Criodán Ó Murchú agreed with the PGWA’s statements saying, “for too long, the university has seen PhDs as a scapegoat to complete unpaid and time-consuming work. PhDs are the backbone of research and technological development in universities and deserve to be recognised as such.
“To be adequately remunerated for their arduous work is at the very least a fair ask, along with proper recognition as employees of the university. Recently, the university scrapped the 120 hours of unpaid tutoring for PhD candidates. However, they have simultaneously cut PhD pay down to tutoring rates, regardless of preparation time and if it is lecture substitution. These unjust practices must come to an end.”