PhDs’ Collective Action Union

PCAU and PGWA are officially going to merge under a new name, the Postgraduate Workers Organisation (PWO).

January 31st, 2023
We are pleased to announce that today we are officially opening formal membership of this new union to all postgraduate researchers in Ireland. Being a member of PWO means that you will be part of an organisation that will pursue constructive action to reform the provision of postgraduate research in Ireland. Like groups such as the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO), we envisage membership of the union to be an integral part of being a postgraduate researcher in Ireland: a formalised, active union that ensures a decent standard of living for all of its members, both now and into the future. You can fill out the form below to officially become a member. In the coming week, you will get a welcome email with information about the union and our next action. You will also have the opportunity to provide additional information about your current situation that will help us better represent the current state of affairs to policymakers and the media.

**Massive News and Membership Drive**

PCAU and PGWA are officially going to merge under a new name, the Postgraduate Workers Organisation

So today we are officially opening formal membership to all postgraduate researchers in Ireland! (1/6)


— PhDs' Collective Action Union (PCAU) (@PhdsPcau) January 31, 2023

The Fair Researcher Agreement (FRA)

December 6th, 2022
The PCAU has submitted the "Fair Postgraduate Researcher Agreement" (FRA) outlining a full set of demands for reforms to PhD research to the Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris. The document is fully supported by PGWA, the Postgraduate Researchers’ Alliance, and is made as a set of demands to be considered both by Harris, his PhD review board, and the Co-Chairs appointed to the board. The FRA is the result of months of engagement with our members from across the country, a process which delivered a clear and consistent message - PhD researchers in Ireland are struggling to survive on stipends that are never higher than thirty percent below the minimum wage, have no access to basic employment rights such as sick or paternal leave, and work within a system that actively discriminates against non-EU researchers in terms of remuneration and residency. The FRA is supported and endorsed by all major representative bodies of students and several local SUs across the universities of Ireland, including the TU Dublin Students Union, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), University College Dublin Student Union (UCDSU), University of Galway Student Union and Trinity College Dublin Student Union (TCDSU). View the agreement here

Proud to release the Fair Researcher Agreement✊ Ahead of the National Review for PhD supports, the FRA demands a living wage and basic worker rights for PhD researchers. We are underpaid, overworked and in desperate need for change.@SimonHarrisTD @pgwa_ie

— PhDs' Collective Action Union (PCAU) (@PhdsPcau) December 6, 2022

First Hybrid Town Hall

Nov. 18th, 6pm. Trinity College Dublin

Invittation and details

Follow us on social media

Sign the petition!

Fair Pay for PhD Researchers


Elected representatives

Kyle Hamilton - President

Full-time PhD Researcher in Technological University Dublin, exploring the application of Neuro-Symbolic AI for the detection of progaganda in news articles. I’m passionate about equality, fairness, and dignity, and I'm willing to stick my neck out so you don't have to!


In charge of general Union management, and also acts as a spokesperson in negotiations. The President shall chair all meetings; in case of their absence, the Vice President shall chair.

Jefferey Sardinia - Vice President

Hello! I am Jeffrey (or Siothrún in Irish) Sardina, Vice President of the PCAU. I am a full-time PhD researcher investigating knowledge graphs and machine learning at Trinity College Dublin. I ran for President on the platform of representing all PhD and postgraduate researchers in the demand for fair pay, equal treatment, and the breakdown of artificial barriers faced by non-EU and other marginalised PhDs. You are always welcome to reach out to me in either Irish or English.


Acting as an assistant to the President, as well as a substitute if at any point the President is unavailable. The Vice-President shall also act as Treasurer of the PCAU.

Matt Murtagh - Data Officer


Responsible for gathering data, statistics, testimonies, and facts on the challenges PhD students face and how to resolve them.

Ajeni Ari - Non-EU Representative


Represents non-EU PhD students and the challenges they face.


Constitution & Mandates


PCAU and PGWA to Merge

The two Unions will be going by the name Postgraduate Workers' Organisation once the merger is complete.

Ailbhe Noonan
Jan 31 2023

Postgraduate worker unions PCAU and PGWA to merge under new name

Applications for membership of the Postgraduate Workers’ Organisation opened today

Charlotte Kent
Jan 31 2023

"It comes down to funding" – Ireland's Postgraduate Research Crisis

Many postgraduate researchers are facing a situation in which they can no longer afford basic necessities such as food, rent and heating due to their lack of funding and their working conditions.

Ailbhe Noonan
Jan 24 2023

Funding model of PhD research is broken

Irish institutions have become reliant on PhD researchers as a cheap form of labour.

Fri Dec 23 2022

PCAU Submits Fair Research Agreement to Review of National PhD Supports

The document outlines the Union’s demands for workers’ rights and fair treatment and pay for postgraduate researchers in Ireland.

Ailbhe Noonan
DEC 6, 2022

PhDs Face Delays in Promised €500 One-Off Payment

A letter issued to SFI and IRC directors for clarification authored by PCAU and PGWA received no response.

Ailbhe Noonan
NOV 22, 2022

Independent PhD union calls for employee status and living wage for postgraduate researchers

The PhD’s Collective Action Union have drafted a list of demands to be submitted to the government review of supports for postgraduate researchers

David Wolfe
NOV 22, 2022

PCAU To Submit Proposal to Harris on PhD and Postgraduate Researcher Rights

The proposal was discussed at a Town Hall held by the PCAU on Friday.

Ailbhe Noonan
NOV 21, 2022

National review on PhD pay hailed as victory after years of campaigning

MON, 24 OCT, 2022 - 02:00

'We can barely afford rent': PhD students in Ireland seek funding boost

Doctoral candidates and a university association say that the current stipend is far below the nation’s living wage and that a proposed increase is insufficient.

Natasha Gilbert
20 October 2022

'I wouldn’t advise anyone to do a PhD in Ireland'

Postgraduate researchers play a vital role in universities, yet many live below minimum wage

Peter McGuire
Tue Oct 18 2022 - 05:00

PhD Stipends to Increase by €500 as Part of Budget 2023

Ailbhe Noonan
SEP 27, 2022

PhD researchers pushed further ‘below minimum wage’ by inflation

Kevin O'Sullivan
Mon Sep 26 2022 - 05:00

Student Representatives Must Stand in Solidarity with Precarious Staff

With their unique voice as the go-between for students and college bodies, student representatives have the opportunity to change the system, writes László Molnárfi.

László Molnárfi

Hundreds Gather to Protest PhD Student Rights

The protest, organised by PhD’s Collective Action Union, called for an increase in the minimum stipend, equal pay for hours worked, and an end to the accommodation crisis.

Ailbhe Noonan and Charlie Hastings
SEP 14, 2022 

PhD researchers protest outside of the Dáil over unfair pay

14 SEP 22

USI to join postgraduate workers union at Dáil protest

The PhDs’ Collective Action Union are demanding a minimum annual stipend of €28,000 for all current postgraduate researchers

Sofia Ferrari Bravo
14 September 2022 

PCAU Demands Fair Compensation for Research and Innovation


USI Signs Open Letter Backing Increase in Postgraduate Research Stipends

The letter expresses concern with the current stipend scheme in light of the cost of living crisis and requests that all postgraduate stipends be increased.

Faye Madden
JUL 28, 2022

Government Response

Minister Harris announces appointment of Co-Chairs for the review of PhD supports

Published on 15 November 2022

National review of State supports for PhD researchers announced by Minister Harris

Published on 19 October 2022