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Graduate Rights

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Changing the Culture of Ph.D. Supervisions

According to a Nature survey in 2017, 47 % of Ph.D. students have been through depression and anxiety due to the bullying and harassment faced during their Ph.D. studies. For 67%, the highly competitive research work surrounded by toxic and abusive supervision culture turned their research life into a nightmare, leading to loss of faith in academia and mental health problems, from chronic anxiety to clinical depression.

This year, of the 174 postgraduates availing our Students' Unions' Advice Service (SUAS) services, 100 of them were Ph.D. students with mostly academic related difficulties. One of the most alarming issue Ph.D. student’s grapple with is the 'supervisor-student' relationship dynamics and related side effects stemming from it like the mental well-being and financial instabilities. Addressing the Ph.D. supervisor-student issue by improving the ‘code of practice (CoP) for research students' and changing the existing toxic 'Ph.D. supervision culture' is a key priority for the Vice-President this year. 

The GU is launching the Graduate Rights Campaign for 'accountable and responsible Ph.D. supervisions’ this month. The GU council passed the motion supporting this campaign aimed at changing the Ph.D supervision culture in this university. The campaign will focus on reviewing the code of practice, better and clearer conflict navigation procedures for PhDs and dissemination of information to post-graduates about the University services like:

Call to Action

The GU has been lobbying for introducing a contract system for PhDs with the PVC, BGS & Education policy office and have been successful in including a signature page in the Code of Practice for Oct 2018 Ph.D. batch. It is expected that this CoP will be read and expectations set out at the start of every year and will be signed by the Ph.D. student, supervisor, and advisor. 

Now, we are lobbying on revising info on working hours, conflict resolution, intermission & extension, maternity and paternity leave, data ethics, fieldwork practices, vacation, and sick leave. We are also developing a flowchart of the Ph.D. journey with appropriate service provider links and conflict navigation chart to help students have a productive and enjoyable time here at the University. As a start, we hope this will ensure good working practices, accountability from supervisors and the departments in ensuring a fair and healthy working environment.

We need your help to understand your individual experiences with your supervisor. Let us know what your Ph.D. experience (good/bad) has been, we will use your stories to campaign for change.

 -Submit Testimonial-

*All testimonials will remain anonymous but if you would like us to disclose your identity, please include your name and college/dept.

Alternatively, you can email our vice-president (vice-president@gradunion.cam.ac.uk) directly to share your good/bad Ph.D. experiences: get involved in this campaign with your stories, inputs, and suggestions! 

 

 

For updates on the campaign, please like/follow us on our social media sites:

https://twitter.com/graduate_rights

https://www.facebook.com/GradRights