This month, I have had a really tricky time (as I am sure everyone in the world has!). Alongside the global pandemic, my partner has been furloughed so we are bringing in less money than before, and over the summer, I am not paid the additional teaching wages I earn in term-time (as obviously there is no teaching and I am only paid for the teaching I do). I do receive my scholarship as I am fortunate enough to be a funded student, but this monthly amount is far less than minimum wage and I have always used the teaching hours to top up my income and make ends meet.
Hello, I'm so sorry you are going through this, it must be incredibly stressful for you. I think I know the institution (there was something int he media). You have options to take a break in learning, which isn't ideal due to funding. What I would suggest is having a formal meeting to discuss and create a plan of action. It is not uncommon to find the second year really hard and demotivating' and that's without a scandal, a pandemic, health problems and financial worries.
I know you rely on the teaching, but maybe seek out RA opportunities (you can sometimes get one day a week positions) or join Uni temps so your work outside of the PhD is independent of your supervisor.
If things don't improve after this meeting, maybe seek out your PGR lead and have a more formal meeting. They do have a duty of care to protect you. I really hope things improve
I am sorry you are struggling. The summer months can be really lean for teaching/marking contracts but unfortunately it can't really be avoided. The only PhD contracts I know of over the summer are research support contracts but they are rare and require funding for the extra research. The only thing I can suggest is make a plea to get extra hours when the uni reopens. Sorry I can't be more helpful.
You need to be vocal in raising this to your University. Many students struggle in silence, and many hardship funds go underspent, because every student assumes their 'hardship' is not actual hardship, when it is.
No University wants the media story 'our PhD students are going hungry because they've been screwed by our precarious teaching contracts under covid'. This is the reality for quite a lot (you're not alone); and a typical stipend, as you say, is *maybe* enough to live on if you're the 'ideal' single, bedsit-accommodated student who lives in the office, but not even close to enough if you have dependents or don't fit the fictional ideal.
You need to communicate this to your University in a way that isn't threatening or naive but will set the necessary alarm bells ringing so someone that can take action does. There are a lot of ways you can do this; e.g. the PR threat - 'Can you please confirm you're unwilling to support, so I can take this confirmation to charitable organisations and promote my case for support to a wider audience'; the league table threat - 'As a result, I see it as unfeasible to complete my PhD in the designated timeframe and we need to discuss how this could be accommodated', or the massive-inconvenience threat 'I will not be able to fulfil the project deliverables, since as we have agreed, my PhD must take precedence'; or the triple-threat (all the above). Do dilute these in advance, and only if you've exhausted all sensible options, in the spirit of picking your battles!
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