Application rejected but potential supervisor still wants to meet?


Hi all.

So I applied for a PhD project with funding from a studentship and about 2 weeks later the potential supervisor contacted me saying I was their first choice and they submitted their ranked list to be processed. Then, I got an email from them the other day saying that I hadn't made it passed the first stage of the application! (Rejected before even having an interview). However, they then say that if I am still interested, they have other opportunities and to let them know so that a visit can be arranged.

I'm obviously very flattered and excited that they like my application that much that they want to meet but what's going on? Any ideas why the studentship rejected my application when I was their first choice? Should I ask potential supervisor? Also, should I assume that the visit will be payed (I'm in NI and the uni is in England so I'll have to fly to visit and I couldn't afford to pay for it currently). If not how do I articulate that? How do I enquire about funding as I definitely can't self fund? Am I overthinking this?

I hope that all makes sense!! I just have no idea what's going on and am in desperate need for some advice!!

Avatar for rewt

That sounds weird. Why did they reject your before an interview but say you were the first choice? I would ask what happened and why you got rejected. There might be a simple explanation but it would definitely be interesting.

I would not assume the visit would be payed for unless they specifically say so. If you can't afford to travel, say so and they understand. They will just set up a video call and you talk that way.


It might be that the supervisor applied for one of the studentships (that's how it works, the University will say to the departments we have say 100 studentships available, and they then submit applications to get one) but the project was rejected by the central University. The Uni may have decided to fund other projects instead, for example. Or maybe the supervisor liked the project but you didn't meet the requirements and so were desktop rejected by HR?

Any meeting with this supervisor will almost certainly not be paid - they are just inviting you for a chat by the sounds of it. So you'll need to tell them you can't afford the travel but can they do Skype or whatever.

Edit: you say 'so a meeting can be arranged', so maybe it could be more formal. Just ask if the Uni will pay, otherwise Skype.


Hi Hannah

I think this sounds positive and you've nothing to lose by meeting and finding out if they have other funding for your PhD project. Re travel costs, you could say I would love to meet in person but do not currently have funding to travel from NI so could we arrange to meet by Skype? That way, if they preferred to meet in person and did want to help with costs then they could offer (as is the case with some job interviews), but if this is off the cards then at least you aren't making anyone uncomfortable by asking directly. You know your own circumstances (e.g. can't self fund) so just bear all that in mind and be up front about it if it is raised in the conversation.

Hope it leads to something positive!