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Covid has had an impact on academics’ well-being

The Covid pandemic has had a considerable impact on academics’ work and well-being. They have had much less time to spend on their research. The Young Academy and the Dutch Network of Women Professors have conducted research into how the situation has been for academics. The two organisations have recommendations on how to mitigate potential adverse effects of the pandemic.

The research into the academics’ well-being showed that as many as 40 percent of the almost 6,000 academics who took the survey reported a loss of research time. Over half of the PhD candidates, postdocs and tenure-track academics reported Covid-related delays that they expect will prevent them from finishing their projects or meeting tenure track requirements in time.

Female academics

Academics with caring duties saw the largest decrease in research time. The reduction in research time reported by academics with young children living at home was twice as large as that reported by academics without children at home.  Female academics with young children experienced the highest conflict in combining work with family obligations. They had the most stress about their research progress and their future in academia. What stands out is that these women were in more precarious positions – slightly earlier in their career and more often in temporary positions – than their male colleagues with young children.

A quarter of the academics reported a high score on stress and exhaustion, and felt tired and drained in relation to their job after the first months of the pandemic. The highest scores were reported by non-Dutch and early-career academics.


The Young Academy and the Dutch Network of Women Professors have made a number of recommendations based on the results. 1. Prevent brain drain: invest in talent retention, especially among precarious groups; 2. Adapt and reconsider criteria for promotion and career advancement in line with the developments of Recognition and Rewards. Instead of a one-dimensional focus, choose custom solutions and communicate clearly; 3. Promote leadership development and make leadership a recognised and rewarded part of an academic’s  job; 4. Continue to monitor and explore the critical uncertainties generated by the pandemic, and take account of differences in its impact, particularly on vulnerable groups.

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