PhD students well-being during COVID-19

This is an Open University (OU) COVID-19 Rapid Response project that explores the impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing and progress of PhD students in the UK.

1st May 2020 - 30th April 2021

The higher education sector is increasingly concerned about the impact of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic on university research.

This project studied the effect of this disruption on PhD students, and in particular, how it has affected their mental health and research progress. The discussed findings drew from survey responses of 1780 UK PhD students during the Covid-19 pandemic. We explored evidence of depression and coping behaviour and assessed factors relating to demographics, PhD characteristics, Covid-19-associated personal circumstances, and significant life events that could explain PhD student depression during the research disruption.

Researchers working on this project combine experience in the fields of education (IET) and mental health (UCL). IET has co-designed and hosted the survey instrument, and led the quantitative analysis of the survey responses.