UCL in winter

Important considerations for our research students

This year has been a year like no other; our entire research environment has changed, as has the way we work as researchers, supervisors, and tutors. We'd first like to thank you all for your continued support of our research student community in what feels like an ever changing landscape.

It is important that we maintain this care and due diligence as we move through the winter break and beyond:

  • Additional caring responsibilities: Many of our research students have caring responsibilities which may be increased at the moment owing to the need to care for vulnerable relatives or loved ones who are shielding and unable to collect medication or groceries; or for children who would normally be at school, after-school clubs, nursery or with a childminder.
  • Single carers: Some of those with extra caring responsibilities are facing the additional challenge of doing that as a single care giver or where partners are essential workers and so are not able to share the load.
  • Students returning home: Additionally, some students, upon relocating home to enjoy the winter break with family, may be struggling with unreliable internet connection, or finding a place to sit and work for extended periods of time, especially in a home with many people.
  • Mental health: Students may be experiencing mental health issues brought on or amplified by the lockdown situation and their personal circumstances.
  • Challenging home environment: There are those students who may be at risk or more vulnerable in their home environment, which could be exacerbated by present circumstances.
    This is by no means an exhaustive list; we hear about new challenges our research students are dealing with almost every day, and we are doing our best to understand and support these difficult circumstances.

“What can I do to help?”

We urge supervisors to be proactive in extending a caring gesture to students. For instance, where appropriate, consider offering to reschedule supervisory meetings and to accommodate the personal circumstances and commitments of your students. In addition, before the break, supervisors might review objectives and milestones to ensure that these are still manageable for students.

One thing that has remained consistent throughout this pandemic is our commitment to care for and be accommodating to one another. Thank you for doing this so far, and for continuing to support our research students as we move into the winter break period and 2021.

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