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Union calls on Cambridge PhDs to receive fairer funding

14 November 2022

UCU has today called on the Cambridge Trust to increase the funding it provides to PhD students at the University of Cambridge.

The Cambridge Commonwealth, European & International Trust offers scholarships to students from the UK and overseas who are studying at the University of Cambridge.

In an open letter to the director of the trust, organised by UCU and trust scholars, signatories have demanded that the funding the trust provides to PhD students in Cambridge be extended to four years.

The trust currently funds students for just three years. This is less than industry standard stipends funded through UK Research and Innovation. It is possible for trust funded PhD students to apply for extensions, but this has to be done in the last months of funding which can cause a great deal of uncertainty and distress.

The Cambridge Trust has over £36m in assets, while the students it funds survive on £17k.

UCU regional official Lydia Richards said: 'We are in a cost of living crisis and it is bad enough that the Cambridge Trust provides just £17k a year for its PhD students to conduct their vital work. But what's even worse is that their PhD is not fully funded for four years, leaving many third year PhD students in economic limbo.

'The trust's current funding system is not fit for purpose and needs to be reformed. Funding for PhDs at the University of Cambridge must be increased to ensure students are financially stable. By increasing the length of the funding to four years the Trust would remove the unnecessary stress caused by the current application process.'

Last updated: 16 November 2022