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UMSU calls for the University to support PhD candidates


UMSU is concerned about recent reports indicating that a significant proportion of PhD candidates are considering abandoning their studies as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. More accurately, PhD candidates are placed in the position where the lack of university and government support is forcing them to make these decisions. The bleak picture painted for higher education by university managements, coupled with the government’s cynical and regressive approach to higher education funding, mean that any hope of an academic career has almost disappeared.

Universities rely on huge numbers of PhD candidates working in casual roles to teach coursework programs. PhD candidates suffer through hours of unpaid work and years of precarious employment in pursuit of permanent work with a university. When these staff, who are also students, walk away from the University because it provides them no meaningful future, who will teach us? Where will the next generation of academic staff come from?

UMSU has always maintained that there is an undeniable link between working conditions for University staff and students’ experience — for years there have been warnings about the impact of mass casualisation in the academic workforce. It is essential that the University acts to support PhD candidates, and to provide them with just employment, in the interests of us all.

Read the article in the Guardian here.

Hannah Buchan
UMSU President