Minister Harris announces additional funding of €3.2 million to the Irish Research Council to benefit its early-career researchers

Posted: 29 January, 2021

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today (29 January 2021) announced an increase in the value of the Irish Research Council’s research scholarships and fellowships.

The enhanced funding of €3.2 million to the Council will better support postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers in Ireland across all disciplines, and directly benefits close to 1,300 early-career researchers across our higher education and research system. The additional investment will fulfill the long-standing priority attached by the Council to improving the support for its funded postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers at the earliest opportunity.

The Irish Research Council’s postgraduate stipend will increase from €16,000 to €18,500 per annum and funding for its postdoctoral researchers is also increasing. The changes will benefit both existing and new Council awardees in 2021, and is effective from the beginning of January. The increases ensure that Irish Research Council-funded researchers are not at a disadvantage compared to researchers elsewhere in the research system.

Minister Harris stated “The Irish Research Council has worked closely with the previous Department over a number of years on this issue. Since my appointment, the funding gap for postgraduate students and post-doctoral researchers between the research funding agencies under my Department has been an issue I wanted to address. I am pleased I have been able to address this as part of Budget 2021.

The Irish Research Council’s goal is to attract the very best talent into research across all disciplines, and alignment of funding for their stipends and salaries with national norms is essential in achieving that objective.

We know we have much work to do in this area, but I hope this sends a strong signal. Budget 2021 is the start of our ambitious programme and over the course of the next few weeks, we will be making a series of significant announcements in this area”.

Council Chair Professor Jane Ohlmeyer added: “This move is excellent news for our early-career researchers, who are of course the future of our research eco-system. Minister Harris and his Department has set out a vision for Ireland to be an island of talent, innovation and inclusion, as well as an international island. Enabling a better postgraduate stipend and postdoctoral salary is part of making this vision a reality.

“From a Council perspective, the additional funding is an investment in our most precious resource – our human capital. It is excellence in people across all disciplines that will determine our success in meeting the national and global challenges we face now and in the future.”

Peter Brown, Director of the Council said “Achieving a position where we are reflecting national benchmarks for the remuneration of early-career researchers is part of our strategic plan 2020-2024, and we are very pleased to be making clear progress in this regard. The move will also enhance the attractiveness of the Council’s awards internationally, which is so important for a vibrant research eco-system.”

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