Standing together as academics during COVID-19

Statement Amsterdam Young Academy
01/04/2020
01/04/2020

AYA in times of COVID-19

Amsterdam Young Academy aims to protect and strengthen the careers and well-being of young academics in Amsterdam during this time of global crisis. As part of the Spui25 Deelgenoten-series, AYA board members share how they navigate through COVID-19 challenges. 



Standing together as academics during COVID-19

Amsterdam Young Academy aims to protect and strengthen the careers and well-being of young academics in Amsterdam during this time of global crisis. We conducted a survey through our own members and through our social media about the challenges academics are facing and their needs for support. We identified three main themes:

1. Work-life balance

Many young academics struggle to separate work from private life. Now that all education takes place online, work has literally entered their living rooms. Many need to take care of their loved ones at home and combine this with uninterrupted online availability. Many are concerned about their own health while experiencing increased workload. Therefore it is important for the leadership to remain in close contact with their academics to inform about their well-being and to explore where support is needed. Many people are also concerned about the study delay of their students and even fear that they will have to give up their own summer holidays to ensure that these students can still graduate before August. Sometimes study delay is simply inevitable, especially during times of a global health crisis.

2. Education and research

Many young academics’ research and educational activities have been severely impacted by this crisis. Almost all research with human participants has come to a halt. All education has to be offered online, which requires a lot of time and effort. This is especially true for academics with a substantial teaching appointment, who now have hardly any time for research. We hope that this impact will be taken into account in the universities’ research and teaching assessments in a fair, individualized manner. This is the core of “Erkennen en Waarderen.” Also, we advise to provide centralized support for continuing research online, for instance through the university libraries.

3. Allocation of tasks

Our survey shows that not everyone is busier than before the crisis. In some cases, the crisis has led to more space and time. We hope that the universities will encourage employees to help each other where possible and particularly when necessary, so that those who currently have to carry the heaviest burden can be partly relieved.

Looking ahead

In Amsterdam, positive steps are already being taken. Tools for virtual education are being developed and experiences are shared. Our research institutes are focusing on the possible long-term impact of halted projects, and discussing possible implications with department heads as well as external funding bodies. We also notice a surge of support amongst each other, which is for instance palpable in these videos by both the VU and UvA board of directors.

Moreover, the National Young Academy (DJA) has published a statement on the challenges faced by academics in this global time of crisis. The Academy advocates first and foremost for empathy, as every academic is one way or another impacted in their work by this crisis. Based on that understanding of the difficulties we all face, DJA asks for adjustment of policies that allow academics to stay physically and mentally healthy. Amsterdam Young Academy fully supports this statement.

Amsterdam Young Academy first and foremost aspires to stand together with its community in these trying times. With our eyes and ears aimed at early career researchers in Amsterdam, we welcome ideas and input on taking the necessary next steps to get through this period together as best as we can. Leave your thoughts in this collaborative document or email us (aya@vu.nl / aya@uva.nl) to join the discussion!