MBIE Te Ara Paerangi- Future Pathways Submission

The Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Development (MBIE) Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways is a programme focused on the future of research in New Zealand. The Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways Green Paper marked the start of an open discussion on issues in research, science, and innovation. Submissions on the Green Paper were invited until the closing date in March 2022. FMHS PGSA submitted feedback on Section 5: The Research Workforce.


What is the issue?

Doctoral students are undervalued and underpaid. Doctoral students are highly educated individuals (having completed an Honours and/or Masters degree minimum) and are expected to complete work very similar to that of an employed researcher. For example, PhD students are often expected to facilitate clinical trials, publish in peer-reviewed journals, and mentor pre-doctoral students. PhD students on scholarships may receive a stipend far below the minimum wage; this causes knock-on effects including a lack of equity and diversity in the research workforce, and abuse of doctoral students because they are ‘cheap labour’.

See our post on the PhD stipend for more information on this issue.


What did we do?

We made a submission to the MBIE Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways Green Paper.

In our submission, we proposed that PhD students should be paid employees and in turn, formalised members of the research workforce. Employment would more accurately reflect the level of expertise held by PhD students. Employment would also afford PhD students the minimum rights of employees.

Our submission can be viewed here.



What’s next? MBIE Te Ara Paerangi Future Pathways programme will review all submissions. We expect updates from the programme later in the year.

Better Postgraduate Support is Our Mission


University of Auckland, Grafton Campus