Comment & Analysis
Aug 16, 2020

School Safety Plans Show PhDs Should Not Be Treated as an ‘Afterthought’

PhD students complained this week about a lack of communication from College surrounding the reopening.

Léigh as Gaeilge an t-Eagarfhocal (Read Editorial in Irish) »
By The Editorial Board

PhD students have consistently expressed frustration with College’s lack of communication with them, and it seems that the pandemic has not improved the situation. 

The University Times this week reported that PhD students had been left in the dark about plans to reopen College this September. Once again, it seems, PhDs have firm grounds for frustration – perhaps even more than any other year. 

PhDs will, afterall, bear the brunt of the newly published safety plans. With smaller in-person tutorials and labs to be prioritised on campus over lectures, it’s PhD students who will be on the frontlines. 


Trinity has already demonstrated its ability to consult during lockdown – as it did with undergraduates on exams, for instance – and the safety plans should have been no different. Furthermore, if PhDs have the most experience with teaching in small classrooms, it surely would have made sense to have their voices heard. 

Aside from developing the safety plans, PhD students have also expressed concerns about an overall lack of communication from College on what its plans for teaching next year are – never mind having input into making those plans. 

PhD students should not have to rely on social media for information about reopening dates – it should be clearly communicated to them by Trinity. It is difficult to imagine this lack of communication between employer and employee passing in any other sector. 

Furthermore, PhDs feel that there has been a lack of training for next year, in particular in how they will be expected to enforce new rules, such as mandatory mask wearing. If College is to reopen safely this year, PhD students must be equipped with the correct tools and information.

As one PhD student told this newspaper, PhD students deserve more than to be treated as an “afterthought”. PhDs already have to put up with precarious employment and pay instability – this week’s safety plans are only emblematic of a general lack of consideration for this cohort of students.