When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK in March 2020, universities closed their doors with uncertainty over when they would reopen. In the early stages of lockdown, many doctoral and Early Career Researchers (collectively, ECRs) felt their institutions had forgotten them.

Vitae and the UKRI-funded Student Mental Health Research Network (SMaRteN) surveyed 5,900 ECRs across 128 UK universities at the end of April 2020, to establish the impact of lockdown on their work. While almost two thirds of respondents agreed that their supervisor/line manager had done all they could to support them, only 38% felt the same way about their institution. A quarter of respondents identified that their relationship with their university had worsened since the pandemic began. Right now, a key question is: what can universities do to support their ECRs?

University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Nicola Byrom, King’s College London

Patricia Jackman, University of Lincoln, School of Sport and Exercise Science

Amy Zile, University of East Anglia

Elizabeth James, Teeside University

Katie Tyrrell, University of Suffolk

Cameron J. Williams, University of New South Wales

Tandy Haughey, Ulster University

Rebecca Sanderson, University of Lincoln, Lincoln Higher Education Research Institute

Michael Priestly, University of Durham

Nicola Cogan, University of Strathclyde