Friday, May 15, 2009

Best and brightest (that's us!) kept dirt poor

A piece this week in The Age newspaper has revealed that this year's budget has done little to alleviate the financial woes of PhD students:


  1. Hello Appendices,
    Thanks for sharing the news. Low rates of remuneration are too much an accepted part of our research culture. We'd like to change that. Please visit us at to get involved. We're open for business in June.
    Best regards,
    Rebecca Smith.

  2. Hi Rebecca - we discussed this over cake last week, and (not surprisingly) we do all think that increasing PhD scholarship remuneration is really important. That said, it's hard to imagine having the energy to campaign on that topic when we're actually doing a PhD as well. A tragic catch-22!

    I personally think of my PhD as my years of charity work. I took a pay cut of almost $50K to do my project. On the other hand, in many ways a PhD is very rewarding job. But I'm looking forward to having a normal income again!

    Camilla, Jo and I are delighted that you have read The Appendix. Thanks for writing your article. We're passionate about science communication, so if we can help you, let us know.

  3. Hi Kao, Camilla, Jo and all you Vet school PhDs,

    You've got an interesting perspective, but a helpful one, I think. To look at a PhD as a community service adds a bit of dignity to a PhD's situation, and reminds us that we're all making a valuable contribution to the well-being of our community, even if our financial reward doesn't reflect that.

    And yes, it is a catch-22 to attempt improving remuneration for PhDs while trying to finish one. However, there's a postgrad group from Deakin Uni in Melbourne trying to do just that.

    After reading the article they were inspired to start a research group looking into different models of funding for PhD students which they'll report to their Vice-Chancellor. I think it's a great initiative. If Appendix is interested, I can put you in contact with them.

    Finally, congratulations on a great website, it's a wonderful way to keep in touch, hugely entertaining and a good way for you scientists to be science communicators at the same time. Thanks heaps for your interest in Science Hub and your offers of help - I'll definitely be in touch.

    Best wishes, may your experiments work the first time ...