Stockholm Universitys three deputy Vice Presidents Henrik Cederquist, Astri Muren, Elisabeth Wåghäll
Photo: Niklas Björling


All employees have been struck by the changes the coronavirus has forced us to make in our everyday work. However, our doctoral students, no doubt, belong to a particularly vulnerable group. In four years of full-time studies, a doctoral student has to complete required courses, conduct his or her research and complete a dissertation. Some of the difficulties caused by the corona crisis are linked to housing and the family situation. Others connect to one’s working life, the location in time within the education, and the implementation of the research itself.

Some doctoral students feel that they have received more time to write since mandatory activities on campus are cancelled, and also the source material is easily accessible. Some, on the other hand, cannot proceed with, for example, data collection and laboratory work.

Flexibility and rescheduling have become the buzzwords of the year, but sometimes this is not possible. We have the fullest understanding of the stress this entails for the doctoral student, and it is vital to contact the university healthcare service as soon as tension affects the work. In cases where it is not possible to carry out necessary research for the dissertation with – as a result, significant delays – an extension of the study period may be required.

Soon, all faculties will have a template that can be attached to the individual study plan. In it, the doctoral student documents the specific delays that have occurred as a direct result of the pandemic. When deciding on an extension, head of departments and deans will act in close consultation with each other. This way, we hope to get the information and thus, the knowledge that will help us in supporting our doctoral students in these difficult times.

This is a text written by the Deputy Vice Presidents Henrik Cederquist, Astri Muren, Elisabeth Wåghäll Nivre, under the subject line “Words from the University's Senior Management Team”, where different members of the university’s management team take turns writing about current issues. “Words from the University's Senior Management Team” is included in each issue of “News for Staff”, a newsletter that goes out to all university employees.