Long way to go to find fair funding 2

August 18, 2006

I was pleased to see such a positive take on postgraduate research ("Research boost will bring jobs bonanza" and"Life for PhD students is on the up", August 11). But there is still a long way to go.

We should be aware that we are a long way from the European target of 3 per cent of gross domestic product spent on research and development by 2010. As far as research students are concerned, the UK has few if any policies, plans or controls with regard to the levels of PhD production. As far as stipends are concerned, we have made significant improvements - we now offer levels equivalent to average postgraduate salaries.

Students are not motivated by money. But surely this is to miss the point. If we are to attract the best and ensure gender equality, we should be looking at the detail and asking what the benefit implications of a three or four-year studentship are, for example, on maternity rights or pension provision.

Unfortunately, the national spend on doctoral education is trivial compared with the spend on research itself and hence it figures little in policy discussion. The research assessment exercise-metrics consultation says nothing about PhDs. There remains a lot more to be done to realise the optimism expressed in your stories.

Howard Green
Former chair, UK Council for Graduate Education

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