Many university-affiliated researchers and PhD students have been unable to collect data since the virus broke out. Field research has been postponed and laboratories are closed. However, many of the researchers are on contracts whose term is equivalent to the duration of their research projects. In other words, they have to complete their research by a certain predetermined date, but are unsure they will be able to do so in the current circumstances.

Therefore, the General Union has stated, the government should support researchers and PhD candidates by establishing an emergency fund. “Many employers will say that their funds only allow them to keep the researchers on for the duration of their projects,” says sector director Donald Pechler. “But we have been told that the Cabinet has deep pockets.”

Different proposals not mutually exclusive

Last Monday, Lucille Mattijssen of Promovendi Netwerk Nederland (PPN, the Network for PhD Students in the Netherlands) called for leniency for PhD students in an interview with HOP (the Higher Education Press Agency). She proposed that PhD students be granted additional time to complete their projects, or that the requirements for their dissertations be relaxed. Pechler stated that the proposals issued by PNN and AOb are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

By now AOb has shared its idea with the Minister for Education, Ingrid van Engelshoven, at a meeting on the coronavirus crisis in higher education.