MI raises PGR childcare scheme ineligibility with Ministers

Midlands Innovation has written to two Government Ministers and Shadow Ministers to raise the issue that postgraduate researchers (PhDs and Professional Doctorates) are ineligible for the recently expanded childcare voucher scheme announced to support working parents.

In the Spring Budget the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the Government’s 30 hours-free childcare scheme was being expanded to all eligible children from 9-months old, but as postgraduate researchers are nationally classed as students and not staff, any postgraduate parents who are working on research won’t be able to benefit from the scheme that was announced to support more people to work.

The issue, raised initially by MI’s counterpart in the south-west of the UK the GW4 alliance of universities, could deter people from embarking on a career in postgraduate research and thus impact on the country’s ability to achieve the Government’s desire for the UK to become a Science Superpower and to increase public and private sector investment in Research and Development.   

Midlands Innovation has written to the Secretaries of State for Science, Innovation and Technology and Education and the Shadow Ministers for Science, Research and Innovation and Higher Education. You can read the letters below which outline in greater detail the difficulties facing postgraduate researchers with childcaring responsibilities, and how the unintended consequences of the scheme’s expansion may impact on both the diversity of those entering into research careers and the future pipeline of skilled talent the country produces.

Dr Helen Turner, Director of Midlands Innovation, said: “As part of the Chancellor’s Budget speech, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt said that he didn’t want any parent with a child under five to be prevented from working if they want to, we entirely agree with him and that’s why we are asking the Government to make the scheme available to postgraduate researchers who are working parents.

“As we have highlighted in our letter, there are over 10,000 postgraduate research students studying across our eight Midlands partner institutions, accounting for 10% of all UK PGR students registered in the UK. We are proud to nationally champion all people who are critical to the success of UK research – such as through our work highlighting the critical role of technicians and the professional service staff who support large research projects – so we feel it is vitally important to raise our concern that postgraduate researchers should receive the same childcare support as other working people.”

Letter to Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology
Letter to Secretary of State for Education 
Letter to Shadow Minister for Science, Research and Innovation
Letter to Shadow Minister for Higher Education  

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