AOb wants emergency fund for researchers and PhD students
An emergency fund is needed for researchers and PhD students at universities. That says AObsector director Donald Pechler. This group often works on a project basis with a fixed end date and is now in great uncertainty as to whether they can complete the research. "We shouldn't leave them out in the cold."
De AOb recently raised the concerns with Education Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven (D66) during a consultation on the corona crisis in higher education.
The RIVM measures against infections are putting university researchers and PhD students in trouble. “They cannot do fieldwork or practicals in a laboratory,” says Pechler. In the the member poll of the AOb several employees indicate this. One respondent writes: 'My education mainly focuses on practicals. This cannot be done remotely. ' Another respondent has asked to postpone his practical course until after the summer when the laboratories are open again. Yet another university employee says: 'Research projects have come to a complete standstill.'
'Doing research projects has come to a complete standstill'
The big sticking point is the contracts, according to AObsector manager Pechler. The duration of a contract is often equal to the research project or employees have received a grant. They have to do with a fixed end date. “They are now in enormous uncertainty,” says the sector manager. “You cannot continue with the investigation, but you also cannot catch up during that employment. Many employers will say that they only have money for the duration of the project. That is why we are pleading with the minister for an emergency solution, such as an emergency fund that makes extension possible. We heard earlier that the cabinet has deep pockets. "
'We argue for an emergency solution, such as an emergency fund. We heard earlier that the cabinet has deep pockets.
A researcher indicates in the AObsurvey indicates that there is a need for clarity. His research is delayed due to the corona crisis. "It would be nice if my supervisors make clear statements about such situations." Research funders, such as NWO, have already indicated, according to the respondent, that an extension will be 'budget neutral'. In other words, these organizations are not going to pay for an extension. So I don't know if I can complete my research ', the researcher said. He calls on the union to argue for a fair settlement towards the cabinet and the universities.
Pechler says that an emergency measure has already been urged by the minister for this specific group in academic education. "You don't want the capital destruction of half-completed research." The AOb also points to the position of PhD students and postdocs. "They also often participate in projects for their data and are at risk of not being able to complete their research due to the corona crisis."
'You don't want the capital destruction of half-completed research'
Earlier this week, Lucille Mattijssen of the Promovendi Netwerk Nederland (PNN) already called for leniency for PhD students, the Higher Education Press Bureau wrote. The PNN proposed an extension or an adjustment of the requirements. Pechler: 'Adjusting the requirements is more something that is determined per individual case and specifically for PhD students. In principle, this is what the doctoral committee of each university is about. An emergency fund can be arranged more generically for researchers and PhD students. The two proposals do not have to be mutually exclusive. '
Earlier this week, the University of Twente showed up The Twentsche Courant Tubantia know that the first doctoral candidate had defended the thesis via video link and that two more will follow this week.