As cuts begin to bite, many universities are resorting to the use of unpaid labour as teaching cover. Some universities have even offered unpaid research ‘internships’. For those embarking on a career in academic research, these are uncertain times. Recently the management of the University of East London has told postgraduate students that there will be no teaching work in the coming academic year. PhD students rely on this work to support them in their studies but also because it is an essential part of the PhD experience.