Not even a desk?

Tony Peacock recently posted on the recent CAPA review of the post-graduate experience in Australia (pdf, via).

He says, paraphrasing the review:

The CAPA survey shows that one in five fulltime postgraduates in Australian Universities did not have sole access to a desk and chair. It jumps to more than 50% when part-timers are involved.

I’m staggered that there are PhD students who don’t have access to a desk.

During my candidature there was an audit of post-grad research programs around the country. More than a dozen of the PhD students where I studied were taken to lunch in the staff club by some very senior academics from outside the institution to get some in-person data for the audit. The stories those other students had! I particularly remember a Masters-by-Research student from one school who said she had to share one very old computer with three other students. This was when I had my own office, desk, phone, desktop and laptop provided by the IT school. Other students said they were lucky to see their supervisors once every three months. I saw mine every week.

Peacock paraphrasing the review, again:

Once the minimum requirements are met, postgraduates generally wanted “reliable, engaged and critical supervisors who mentored their students by helping them get their work published in suitable journals, encouraging them to attend conferences and present their work, and where possible, involving them in other research projects and teaching appointments in their department”

I’m incredibly fortunate to have had that experience, and more, during my PhD. I hope my students’ PhD experience is up to scratch. I think it mostly is.


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