This year this happened too, but then in summer. The first proposal came in soon! Then there was a bit of a pause, but then more flowed in. I was glad to see that! And it’s quite some work reading the proposals and give feedback on them; is it not unusual that initially, they are not specific enough. And then I have to keep asking questions along the lines of: ‘but what is the exact research question? How will the data answer that?’ until I am convinced the project can be done. It does require me looking up the data they propose. Sometimes they find cool things; I might be able to base some future projects on the ideas I get this way!
As I write this, the students still have two weeks to finalise this process. I hope a lot of own projects come through!