Uni tells PhD students they should consider selling Avon to help them cope financially

One professor branded this advice ‘freaking ridiculous’

The University of East Anglia (UEA) emailed PhD students saying they should consider selling Avon, participating in clinical trials or picking fruit, to help them cope financially.

One university Professor has called these suggestions, “freaking ridiculous”.

In a statement given to The Guardian the course director apologised “for any offence caused” by the email.

The email recognised that many students enrolled in the Aries Doctoral Training Partnership were finding it “increasingly challenging” to cope during the ongoing cost of living crisis.

The PhD students in question are paid a “stipend” of just £15,600 to live off per year, yet they are only allowed to undertake six hours of paid work per week, in case it interferes with their academic studies.

The email advised students could take on any of the following jobs to help supplement their income: babysitting, dog walking, participating in clinical trials, selling Avon or similar, fruit picking or cleaning.

Avon is a cosmetics company that sells its products to employees for a discounted price before they resell the same products for a profit.

A screenshot from the email sent to PhD students

These suggestions have sparked widespread criticism from PhD students and academics across the board.

PhD graduate Adriana Lowe told The Guardian she was “outraged” while Professer Gruber of the University of Geneva called the advice “freaking ridiculous”.

Lowe added: “This is just another example of how PhD students are completely let down by the system. While they’re called students, they’re producing vital research which in many cases has a direct and meaningful effect on wider society

“These are people who are advising government on policy, advancing medical research, tackling the climate crisis and so on, and we’re expecting them to live like teenagers despite the fact they’re often adults with kids of their own.”

Director of the doctoral training programme Professor Jenni Barclay said: “Firstly, and unequivocally we are sorry for any offence caused. The primary concern here is the cost of living crisis and its disproportionate impact on our research students. Action is needed soon – many students are reporting extreme financial difficulties now.

 She added: “The intention here was to provide support as an interim measure as we try to improve global response to this problem for students.”

Featured image background: Unsplash / Raphael Lovaski

Related stories recommended by this writer:

• Everything you need to know about Tuci- the party drug people are calling ‘pink cocaine’

• ‘A complete bullsh*tter’: Keir Starmer slams Boris Johnson in podcast rant

• The Tory members choosing the next PM couldn’t care less about climate change