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UK graduate students call for more support as cost of living crisis bites

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theguardian.com

Graduate students say the increased cost of living has pushed stipends below the living wage, leaving some struggling to pay rent and forcing them to seek second jobs in bars and supermarkets.UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the UK’s largest single funder, which supports about 105,000 postgraduate research students, has committed to a 2.9% increase in student stipends for the next academic year.

But students say this could push them into poverty and are calling for more support to meet the increased costs of living.Emma Francis and Hannah Franklin, based at UCL, coordinated a letter on behalf of all London-based PhD students funded by the Medical Research Council, which is part of UKRI. “The current level of financial support provided by UKRI to PhD students is insufficient and unsustainable and creates a big diversity issue,” said Franklin. “They are curating an exclusive community, not providing equal opportunities for all.”The UKRI increases stipends based on the inflation rate of the previous academic year (2.9% from October 2020 to September 2021).

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