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To: Sydney University Executive Management Team
COVID-19 relief measures for USYD HDRs
We call upon the University to show leadership in this moment and implement the following COVID-19 relief measures for its HDR community:
1) Automatic and unconditional six month candidature and stipend extensions, over and above the existing extension process;
2) A separate case-by-case extension request system for those candidates who may need additional flexibility;
3) Emergency income support package for all HDRs set at the current 2020 RTP stipend level (including those HDRs currently without a stipend, and bringing all current stipend holders up to the 2020 stipend rate).*
Why is this important?
Amidst the ongoing responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, HDRs at Sydney University have been left behind. We are calling on the University to look after its HDR community as this crisis continues to unfold and impact its staff and students.
HDRs candidatures have been seriously impacted by the pandemic and necessary responses from the University, including campus closures, intermittent (or foreclosed) access to the resources that we need to complete research, and travel restrictions. COVID-19 has constituted an abrupt break from the conditions that our successful candidatures rely upon.
Further, and as the University is aware, the stipends that some of us currently receive are not enough to live on - and as a result of the crisis many of us have lost the jobs that helped us to make rent, and otherwise afford to live in Sydney. Those of us without stipends have been placed in an even more tenuous position as the economy contracts. We believe that in these unprecedented times the University should look to its role as a vital part of the Australian economy to look after its HDRs, and provide emergency income support for its hard-working early career researchers. As a leading Australian university, this could also set the standard for what other universities roll out in the weeks and months to come.
We look to some of the existing responses from the Australian Government and other Australian universities as precedent:
1) The Government has rolled out a Coronavirus Supplement to new and existing eligible income support recipients; and
2) ANU has announced emergency financial support for students alongside a blanket six month candidature and stipend extension for all HDRs.
*Postgrads for Fair Pay acknowledges and supports the existing ‘USYD Honours, Masters and PhD Students Open Letter’ to the University. Our call for COVID-19 relief measures is from representatives of the PhD and MPhil/MA HDR community and sets out demands particular to this community.