APH researcher Trees Juurlink interviews dean Chris Polman (VUmc) about the support for PhD students in times of corona

How can the board of deans support PhD students in times of COVID-19 – a conversation with Chris Polman dean of Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc

April 30 2020

The 22nd of April the board of Deans held an online Q&A session for PhD students about consequences, opportunities and concerns in relation to their research projects and the COVID-19 virus outbreak. Although the current crisis also provides new research opportunities, for many PhD students the crisis consequently leads to project delays and concerns about financial and contractual consequences. Chris Polman explains how the board of deans is working on a national solution to extend contracts if needed with subsidy providers such as ZonMw. However, no guarantees can be given and for those funded by smaller foundations it may be more difficult e.g., charities that missed collections struggle with financial difficulties themselves.

Chris Polman also noted that hinder due to the restrictions differs among PhD students. For those in a writing phase it is likely less affecting their work, as it is for those depending on access to the lab or society for data collection. It is difficult for the deans of Amsterdam UMC to support PhDs in research that needs access to the public arena. However, as of next week, the labs with limited number of researchers and working in shifts, will carefully reopen for data collection. Data analysis and meetings will still be held from home.

Another concern is in PhDs that have small social networks and tend to become isolated. PhDs in this position can reach out to Amsterdam UMC by phone or e-mail (see Intranet), or get in touch with their PIs or colleagues, but Chris Polman also emphasizes that we carry a role in this together. Department heads, PIs, PhD students and other colleagues should reach out to each other by phone, social media, video calls or if needed face to face respecting the current regulations. We will do it together, please share your concerns and keep in touch!