Mental Health and Wellbeing of Part Time and Distance Learning PGRs workshop

  • Past Events

On June 9th 2023, we welcomed delegates to Friends House in London for the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Part Time and Distance Learning Postgraduate Researchers’ workshop, run in partnership with the University of Portsmouth. The event drew attendees from across the country to investigate methods of support for this little-discussed group.

Professor Jane Creaton, Dr Charlotte Morris (both from the University of Portsmouth) and Dr Owen Gower (UKCGE) welcomed delegates by setting the scene. Part-time and distance learning postgraduate researchers are more vulnerable to issues such as isolation, discrimination and the stress of managing multiple responsibilities than their full-time counterparts. As Dr Morris observed, although we have come a long way in de-stigmatising how we talk about mental health, there is still a lot to do” and it’s important that staff and supervisors, as well as students, take care of themselves. 

The first session was led by Dr James Burford, Assistant Professor of Global Education and International Development at the University of Warwick, who shared work which he and his colleagues had been doing on the mental health and wellbeing of distance learners. Dr Burford spoke of the importance of contextualising wellbeing within political changes in academia, at a time when academics are under increased pressure. He considered the use of technology to help people become less isolated, and he shared resources such as the Doctoral Research by Distance website.

After lunch, Dr Kay Guccione, Head of Research Culture and Researcher Development at the University of Glasgow, opened her session Part-time Doctoral Learners and Wellbeing’. Dr Guccione reflected on the work that she and Dr Jon Rainford had done for their forthcoming book, Thriving in Part-time Doctoral Study, and asked whether it was worth students considering a shift to part-time study to re-energise themselves.

With lively discussions punctuating each presentation, the day concluded with a consideration of supervision by Professor Gina Wisker, Associate Professor of Management Strategy & Organisation at the University of Bath. In Positive Practices for Supervisors of Part-time & Distance Learning Doctoratal Candidates’, Professor Wisker drew on her personal experiences as both student and supervisor. We help students to be competently autonomous,” she said of her supervisory role, But this is more difficult when they are part-time distance students. We can’t sort things out over coffee. We need to keep checking in with them.”

In the video above, speakers and attendees mention some of the highlights of the day for them. View the introductory slides below and the rest on Slideshare.

Do you have an idea for an event you would like to run in partnership with UKCGE? 

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