PhD Students Urged to Consider Selling Avon Products to Make Ends Meet | Science

Graduate students chosen for their “excellent potential” to become future leaders in environmental science and sustainable business should consider selling Avon products, keeping pets, and participating in clinical trials to make in the face of the cost of living crisis.

The advice – issued on Wednesday by the prestigious Aries Doctoral Training Partnership funded by the University of East Anglia’s Natural Environment Research Council – sparked outrage from researchers who called the letter ‘appalling’, ‘ridiculous’ and “incredible”.

An email to PhDs on the scheme acknowledged that many are finding it “increasingly difficult” to live on their stipends, £15,600 a year at present, and attached a three-page document from the UEA careers office outlining options to make ends meet.

Before making specific recommendations, the document warns that many students are not allowed to do more than six hours of paid work per week because it would prevent them from completing their course on time.

The letter outlines how doctoral students can boost their finances through college-level education and training, tutoring, and exam papers, and goes on to suggest dog walking, pet sitting, clinical trials paying and selling Avon products as alternative sources of income. .

Adriana Lowe, who earned a PhD from the University of Kent in 2019, said she was “outraged” by the suggestions. Natalie Starkey from the Open University called the advice “incredible”, while Jess Wade from Imperial College London called it “appalling”. Professor Thibaud Gruber from the University of Geneva said it was “horribly ridiculous”.

“This is just another example of how doctoral students are completely let down by the system. Although they are called students, they produce lifesaving research that in many cases has a direct and significant effect on society at large,” Lowe said. “These are people advising the government on policy, advancing medical research, tackling the climate crisis, etc., and we expect them to live like teenagers despite the fact that they are often adults with children of their own.”

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A spokesperson for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Britain’s main science funding programme, said the letter did not reflect their position, adding: ‘We recognize the effect that the rising cost of living has on students and we are looking to see if we can provide additional financial support.

Professor Jenni Barclay, Director of the Doctoral Training Programme, said: “First and foremost, and unequivocally, we are sorry for any offense caused. The main concern here is the cost of living crisis and its disproportionate impact on our research students. Action must be taken quickly – many students are now reporting extreme financial hardship.

“UKRI is looking at this and following discussions at our Aries Summer School, we set out to gather evidence on how best to lobby UKRI on this. But we’re also committed to offering some practical advice. The intent here was to provide support as an interim measure as we try to improve the overall response to this issue for students.

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