Press release: Nearly half of PhDs have increased risk of mental problems, 40% have considered quitting

47% of PhDs in the Netherlands have an increased risk of mental health problems. This is shown by the PhD Survey of the PhD Network Netherlands (PNN), in which 1,601 PhD candidates in the Netherlands participated. Especially international PhDs have an increased risk of mental health problems: no less than 55.6% of them have an increased risk of mental health problems.

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PNN PhD Survey: Asking the relevant questions PNN needs your input to improve the situation of PhDs in the Netherlands!

We are aware that the coronacrisis may have a big impact on your PhD trajectories. PNN is currently working very hard to find solutions for these corona-related problems. However, also without the corona-related problems, PhDs may experience other problems as well. It is one of PNN’s core aims to improve the situation of PhDs, and therefore we want to identify and quantify these problems.

Therefore, we want to ask you to let us know what is going well and what is not going well in your PhD trajectory in the PNN PhD Survey! This survey also covers topics that are usually not addressed in PhD surveys, but are crucial to improve the situation of PhDs. PNN will handle the data confidentially, so you can feel free to share all concerns you might have. 

The more PhDs fill in the survey, the better PNN will be able to address your problems and to convince policy makers to make changes! We therefore call on everyone who is currently working on their PhD project, regardless of contract type or institution, to fill in this survey!

On top of that, by participating in the survey, you can opt in for a lottery to win one of two Career Coaching Sessions with a professional career coach!

You can fill in the survey here!

Survey PhD candidates in the University Medical center

Since the problems arising from COVID-19 for research in the UMCs can be distinct from those in other academic settings, a seperate survey is available.

We would love to hear what kind of problems you are confronted with. so we can use this information to advocate your needs and interests to policy makers.

Fill out the survey here.

Broad collaboration on corona-related problems of PhD candidates

Due to the corona crisis, many PhD candidates encounter problems for various reasons.  PNN is currently collaborating with PostdocNL, VSNU, NFU, NWO and ZonMw to find good solutions and to compensate PhD candidates for any delays they incur. In this statement (in Dutch – English version follows later) we set out the joint objectives of this collaboration. PNN is confident that this collaboration will lead to generous, tailor-made compensation for PhD candidates. In the coming weeks, the statement will be further elaborated upon, taking into account the major differences between research areas but also differences between types of PhD trajectories.

Previously, PNN has published its own statement regarding PhD trajectories in times of Corona. Our chair Lucille Mattijssen explained the recommendations of PNN to the Higher Education Press. Many of these recommendations have been incorporated into the joint statement. For example, universities are urged to ensure that health does not have to be subordinated to research, but that existing research can be continued at an appropriate time. Universities are also encouraged to offer PhD students the choice between a digital defense and postponement of the defense as much as possible.

Do you have a personal, corona-related problem that you would like to share with us, please email  and we will include it in our further conversations!