[quote]Quote From random_6772:

I'd NEVER go to a big-name, top-of-the-top Uni again. Too much obsession with appearance and success over doing useful work plus deaf "look-at-me" ego people who don't give anything for the students. Politics, ego and image - very important for my 1st supervision.

My old Uni (Newcastle) is a decent second tier place (with, looking back, better facilities). I should have gone there. On hearing I was looking at doctorates they made 2 offers (I applied once, got 3 offers).

But my ego pulled me in to a big name place. Oh well.

Hey Random,
Just read through the thread, I'm sorry for what you're going through but I'm pleased to hear that you are less stressed now.
I've quoted what you said above because I think it's very key and it's something I 110% agree with you on.
I also went from a 2nd or even 3rd (?) tier undergrad university to the #8 university in the world! (saying that out loud with the exclamation mark feeling what I feel about it makes me lol). In my 2nd year still and I must say I find the university atmosphere and staff extremely toxic and impossible to breath in. I love my PhD topic which is the only thing keeping me sane. But I just needed to quote you on that and put it out there for other young bright minds - do not choose the university based on its ranking (yes it looks good on CV) but if it turns out not to be your cup of tea, you're STUCK there, mentally crushed, for at least 4 years of your life.
If I had the chance I would run back to my 3rd tier undergrad university doing what I do now, in a more peaceful, scientifically challenging, friendly and supportive environment with far more facilities! but alas reality is different. I guess what doesn't break you makes you stronger! Good luck!!!


I think you have to differentiate and one PhD student's experience at, let's say Harvard, does not necessarily represent that of another PhD student there. Blindly going for the higher ranked option is of course always short sighted. If your work does not reflect the high rank of the Uni, it is probably of no advantage on your CV either. Pretty sure that the PhD in Oxford won't impress anyone if you finished it with a single Plos One publication (speaking for the Life Sciences here)


So. Reporting in from 2020 re the 2017 Crushed situation... I passed this year; took 7 years in all. Minor corrections. External examiner "one of the most comprehensive and relevant studies I have seen" - and like to influence Government direction. But It Was A Terrible Slog - really, I'd say to people:

** Unless your future depends on a PhD, a decent MSc is all you will need - ideally backed by sector experience **

In the end the head of department had to stand in as supervision, a solid chap without whom I would have failed. I'm advised that my original supervisor is no longer allowed to supervise students (alas others ran foul of similar problems). Funnily, the Students Union was very very downbeat essentially saying I could not push the Uni, as it had been left too late. So - tip - kick up sooner rather than later.

Thus another tip - always choose a Uni with an established topic department; this one was new so no other 1st supervisor available. As I had no primary supervision, some poor (senior) guy from another department was frog-marched into doing the thesis pre-submit review. He was scathing on layout and flow of concept presentation - actually, he gave very good feedback but I heard that his arm was quite twisted to get him to do the review, which was not appreciated.

Finally they gave me a piece of paper; not very impressive really. I'm a Dr. No gowned award ceremonies tho (COVID rules). I really, really don't know what I would have said, given the podum. A line then is drawn. What now...?... ...


@random_6772 Congrats and well done on pulling through such a sh*tty situation. I'm going through a very similiar situation and totally relate to your experience.