Doctoral student survey
The Doctoral Student Association at the University of Eastern Finland (UEF-DSA ry) distributed a questionnaire during the fall 2013 to identify the major needs that PhD students may have during their studies. Among the most important topics that were covered in the survey were supervision, availability of an office, funding and different aspects of a life after a PhD. The questionnaire was answered by 107 respondents, of which approximately 36% were foreigners. The campuses where the respondents are studying were Joensuu (47%) and Kuopio (52%). Only a small proportion (25%) of the students were part of the Student Union, mainly because of the lack of benefits doctoral students get.
Students considered that they are, in general, well supervised (more than 50%), but some of them had a negative conception of supervisors (13%). The time invested in supervising students may be too little.
More than 30% of the respondents do not have an office where to work, although among those some work at research institutes such as THL. The lack of office may depend strongly on the funding situation.
Funding was one of the key group of questions in the questionnaire, as is one of the main problems among students. Normally respondents fund their studies with a combination of sources (grants, salaries, etc). There is virtually no differences between Finns and foreign students funded by a salary, but the differences accentuated when grants come into play: almost 50% of Finnish students were able to combine grants and other sources of funding while only 20% of foreigners were able to do the same. The most worrying fact was that some of the students recognized to have financial problems (20% overall). This percentage was about 30% for foreigners.
Finally, a high percentage of respondents felt that they need career guidance after finishing their PhD and they would like to stay in the field of research, including at UEF.
Although these results may not represent the overall community of PhD students at UEF (107 respondents among 1500 active students), there are several issues that could be improved, such as increasing the benefits doctoral students get via the Student Union (or other student organization), provide offices and reduce the number of students that have financial problems. Also to guide recently graduated doctors for their future careers seems a priority.