Weak euro hits PhDs too

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Sir

Your Careers and Recruitment report on Marie Curie fellowships ( Nature 407, 427–429; 2000) raised the important issue of falling income among postdocs who are paid in euros but work in countries outside this currency region. We would like to draw attention also to PhD students in the same situation: they are usually less well paid than postdocs, but have similar expenses. Hence it is even more difficult for PhD students to cope with the sudden drop in value of the euro, particularly in the United States and United Kingdom.

As an example, scholarships from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (the main source of funding for Portuguese scientists) have a fixed value in euros regardless of the country in which the PhD student is working. Since the euro was introduced in January 1999, students in the United States and the United Kingdom have had to cope with a decrease in their income of 27.8% and 19.7%, respectively.

We deeply regret that the authorities, although aware of the problem, oppose fixing the value of scholarships in the currency of the country in which the student is working. If measures are not taken to correct this unfairness, the mobility of students will soon be curtailed.

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