Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Supervisors Can Better Support the Well-being of Higher Degree Students

Ryan, Baik and Larcombe (2021) surveyed 595 Australian master's and doctoral research students, about how their high rates of psychological distress could be addressed. The authors concluded students would be "likely to benefit from a whole-of-university approach to supporting their wellbeing, and from an academic research culture that values the wellbeing of all its members". However, I suggest what would be more useful are actions which individual supervisors can do. Recommending actions which they can;'t do may just have the effect of increasing the distress of supervisors and students.

Actions which supervisors can carry out on their own, without authorization or funding from their institution can help the students and the superior. Supervisors can encourage their students to obtain qualification which will fit them for a job outside academia and research. They can train students in staff supervision skills and apply them themselves, to avoid overwork.

In some cases potential supervisors should recommend to a student they not undertake a research degree, or at least not yet. Instead a combination of graduate coursework and vocational education would be a better career path.


Tracii Ryan, Chi Baik & Wendy Larcombe (2021) How can universities better support the mental wellbeing of higher degree research students? A study of students’ suggestions, Higher Education Research & Development, DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2021.1874886

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