In furtherance of its engagement with scholars studying in different countries overseas, the PTDF conducted online surveys to determine how they were coping with the impact of COVID-19 Pandemic. Interviews were conducted online with the scholars to have further insight on the impact of the pandemic on their studies and well being. Here are excerpts.

Abdullahi Magaji Dauda

PhD student

Institute of Cancer Therapeutics

University of Bradford

Bradford, United Kingdom.

On the 23RD of March, I received an email from the Head of school that we have to stop coming to the labs and start working from home, as the cases of covid-19 kept rising in the UK. My progression viva was due for the 27th of March. I got prepared and, on the day, I did my progression viva and passed with no corrections, but I was just 18 months half-way through my PhD so I couldn’t celebrate as we used to. I wrote a mini review in the month of April, thinking every day I will see that one email I have been waiting for that says campus will resume tomorrow but nothing.

I am a lab-based researcher, so I didn’t know how to work from home, also I had already passed my progression to PhD, so I have to start new lab experiments to have data to even write results and discuss them. Keeping in touch with my supervisor really helped because we decided to be doing a journal club weekly with members of my research group and it helped us keep the group connection.

Socially the pandemic affected all our lives, but the priority was to stay safe, I used the period to keep contact with family and friends and also have more connections with my fellow scholars, a lot of zoom meetings and participation in webinars and conferences online.

I am really proud of my sponsor, the Petroleum Technology Development Funds (PTDF), PTDF sent us emails after emails and covid-19 related email for scholars to contact the Fund if anyone among the scholars have been a victim of the pandemic and that alone gave me a reassurance that I was really in the right hands. PTDF also reached out to scholars with status update on how the pandemic affected us and I also participated in filling the forms and submitted my own evidences of how my studies was paused for that period.

The Funds also paid our allowances promptly and promised to further support us finish our studies, I am really proud, Gratitude is all I can say.

Miazor Ekom, MSC Scholar China

While the rest of the world braced for the limitations inflicted upon us by an epidemic that soon became a global pandemic, individuals and scholars in China had already been required to self-quarantine right from the beginning of the year 2020. All of a sudden, the cost of goods had tripled, research laboratories became inaccessible. At this point, staying alive was more of a priority than anything else. By the nature of a post-graduate research which requires a series of varying experiments, the inputs of peers, as well as conference meetings, it seemed rather difficult to make tremendous progress where necessary. Research topics of several scholars had to be modified so as to finish within the stipulated duration of study. Without a doubt, it had been quite a unique experience. Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) took a large share of allowances provided. Eventually, even face masks became a scarce commodity, timelessly N95 masks had to be bought all the way from Korea. Waking up every day and watching the news was a nightmare as I longed to wake up to a reality that it was all a dream, not knowing that this would soon become the new normal.

 The Fund was in constant communication with the scholars and learning more about the conditions in which scholars faced during this challenging period.  The Fund ensured that there was a constant flow of communication with the scholars proposing several options on how best to serve the scholars during the outbreak.

The Fund ensured that the living conditions of the scholars were suitable especially regarding the accommodation of scholars. Another aspect is the Fund’s timely disbursement of stipends so there can be a total focus on studies without being distracted.

Press and External Relations Unit