Austerity cuts leave stranded Mexican PhD students in climate change and other areas

  • Due to recent austerity cuts, the Mexican Government is leaving its Mexican students stranded in the UK and other countries.
  • Mexican PhD students with special scholarships for climate change and energy programmes will not receive a living stipend to finish their thesis.
  • New unexplained cuts by Conacyt to the Scholarship Program have been found even when Mexican Congress has approved the same budget as previous years.

The Mexican Government decided late June 30th eliminate public funds dedicated to science, climate change, energy, and disaster relief. The special funds for climate change and energy of the Secretariat of Energy (Sener) funded PhD students’ life stipends and fees in climate change and energy efficiency.

The students stopped their projects because of the closure of university facilities during COVID-19 lockdowns in the UK. This situation has left 42 PhD Students without a life stipend to continue their research in the UK. Although the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt) and Sener promised these students a solution to grant them a year to finish their research projects, the Mexican Government has not given any solution to date.

MexSocUK has reported that every Mexican PhD student in the UK has been delayed from doing crucial lab or fieldwork because of the COVID.-19 restrictions. By not granting enough funding, their projects are at risk of being unfinished. However, Conacyt PhD students have requested funds to finish their projects due to COVID-19 restrictions to laboratories and other university facilities. Conacyt has recently informed them that their request was “under review of budget availability”.

As shown in public information websites of the Mexican Government (graphs attached), the Mexican Congress has authorised enough budget, the same as previous years, to grant funding for PhD students abroad. However, they have assigned fewer scholarships since 2019. How can the Mexican Government argue budget scarcity when the same budget has been approved and fewer scholarships granted?

MexSocUK calls the Mexican Government to guarantee PhD Mexican Students abroad enough funding to finish their projects. They compromised to complete their programs with Conacyt since they enrolled in the public program and insisted that COVID-19 restrictions were unforeseeable and out of their control. Also, MexSocUK calls for attention to revise the current management for the Program of Postgraduate Scholarships. Conacyt has modified and cut several opportunities for young Mexican scholars. Notably, the cancellation of abroad master scholarships, changes from masters to PhD students already admitted in PhD programmes. Also, Conacyt erased many scientific fields to apply for PhD funding and public calls for grants. Remarkably, in areas such as climate science, math, engineering, computing, and economics. Mexican PhD Students have called for a solution since last year with no apparent explanation.