UCL network to flag up struggles of junior staff

Group to lobby coalition to highlight plight of well educated but broke early career researchers

September 25, 2014

A new network at University College London hopes to lobby the government to raise awareness of the struggles of “well-educated, broke” early career researchers.

The group of junior academics, working in UCL’s Populations and Lifelong Health Domain, want to highlight the issues faced by researchers on fixed-term contracts and give those early in their careers a voice within university management.

They argue that PhD students, postdoctoral researchers and research associates are an “absolutely essential part of science” but are one of the most “vulnerable groups” in terms of job security.

Data presented at the first meeting of the group suggested that one institute in the domain had 124 non-clinical postdoctoral researchers, but just 13 lecturing positions that they could progress to, reflecting the competition that junior researchers face.

Ed Fottrell, chair of the network’s committee and a lecturer at the UCL Institute for Global Health, said that these statistics, from UCL’s Institute of Child Health, were “depressing”.

Dr Fottrell said it was important that early career researchers confronted the problems brought about by fixed-term contracts, lack of support and career expectations. He said that almost all early career researchers dwell on the things that they need to do to climb the “steep stairs of success”.

He added that junior research staff face difficulties because they “are well educated, broke, because they spent all their money being educated [and] doing science at an age when they are trying to start families and buy houses”.

Dr Fottrell continued: “The network is going to tackle these ideas collectively rather than each of us lying awake at night individually…We want to be realistic and see all the problems but we want to sprinkle some optimism and support.”

He added that many of these problems are not due to university policies and that the network had “ambitious” aims to raise awareness of them with government.

The network, which was launched on 3 September, hopes to inspire and support people. With a small amount of funding from UCL it will run events and provide advice, mentoring and networking opportunities, as well as offering insight about careers outside of academia.


Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

PhD Scholar in Medicine

University Of Queensland

Manager, Research Systems and Performance

Auckland University Of Technology

Lecturer in Aboriginal Allied Health

University Of South Australia

Lecturer, School of Nursing & Midwifery

Western Sydney University

College General Manager, SHE

La Trobe University
See all jobs

Most Viewed

Most Commented

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi