During the exceptional circumstances of spring 2020, there were enormous changes introduced to the everyday work and studies at the University of Helsinki due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to understand both the immediate and long-term effects of these changes on the doctoral candidates at the University of Helsinki, the PhD student association HYVÄT conducted a survey focusing on the wellbeing of the doctoral candidates and how it can be improved during these exceptional times.
The survey was conducted between 7 and 19 April with questions available in Finnish and in English. In total, there were received more than 500 answers from all of the four doctoral schools, including at least one answer from each doctoral programme. While the survey was performed during the early phase of the epidemic and some of the identified issues have already been resolved, many of them remain relevant and require attention by the University administration when moving forward with considering the consequences of the epidemic. Chief among these issues are the concerns about the continuation of funding to finish doctoral studies that have been delayed because of the situation, and the major negative effects on the mental wellbeing of the students. Many answers expressed a clear need for increased flexibility and support from the University, which we expect the doctoral schools will keep in mind when drafting measures to help their students. It is our hope that this survey will aid in communicating the concerns of the students about the situation to the relevant parties, and that appropriate action to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will be taken based on both the suggestions presented by the students and our analysis of the results.
A report describing the findings from the survey in more detail is available for download at https://blogs.helsinki.fi/phd-association/files/2020/05/HYVÄT_COVID_survey_results.pdf.
Seminar on the results of the COVID-19 Survey
HYVÄT held a (virtual) seminar on 4 June 2020 at 17.00, where the results of the survey were briefly presented and the participants had a chance to ask questions from the HYVÄT representatives. Presentation slides from the seminar are available here https://blogs.helsinki.fi/phd-association/files/2020/06/hyvat_covid_slides.pdf.