pahI failed my PhD in 2008, I had no support from the Uni & very little from my supervisor- who sat down with the examiners(who I found) just before the viva & told them I was not worth it - he never said that to me in 10 years(I had little faith in supervisor who never had a PhD or students- so Iasked 3 academics if the thesis was good- they all agreed it was)
The whole thing was a farce, I was very depressed at the viva,but no one told me depression was a disability. My GP wrote to the Uni- they ignored him. The examiners lied in the exam report- its academic judgment- so they can say what ever they like- it does not have to be true. I complained to the Uni who then changed the rules to use in retrospect - 2 of the Uni lawyers (inc head one) were at the Uni hearing- they wrote the Hearing report- like the examiners,it bore small resemblance to reality, totally missing out my lawyers questions & summing up- just highlighting what the department said.
The OIA were more than a waste of time- the whole complaint process took 2 years- the adjudicator taking a break to visit unis- who pay them. The OIA did not explain all the rules that were broken or why the Uni used covert monitoring as they had no evidence against me. The OIA do give explanations- they do not have to. They rewrote the evidence of the 3 academics about the thesis as " during course of her studies she had encouragement". Like the Uni they will not correct
I feel not just a failure once, but twice, I cannot look forward to any thing anymore- I did 10 years for nothing, further more an academic who appeared friendly for 2 years strung me along about sending papers off for publishing- he just went off the radar when the OIA decision came through.
I asked the Uni on figures of PhD drop out- they have just made excuses for 2 years. The uni head office is mostly lawyers- thats why they get on with the OIA who has never given students a decent deal- the highest payout was to cover a student legal fees- so that student, unlike the advice the OIA give, must have had legal advice & lots of it. Unlike their scottish counter part, the OIA rarely recommend an apology.
Absolutely no one wants to know about the student- hence the spiral of failure- there is no support- the students union is not interested.
Read the OIA student survey- although the vast majority of students are so depressed by the process- they would still recommend it!- I would not- its just another putdown that takes away valuable time for legal action and breaks the will to do so. I just wish someone could provide a support group. Its so alienating to lose all 10 years of work on bone cancer. The examiners said I could do a rewrite for a MSc- but I had no supervisor + 100% bias from the Uni- so how could that happen- I got a letter saying that as I failed to submit a MSc- that was that. Natural justice- the OIA have no power to deal on how Unis treat students who complain. PhD students are at the mercy of a selfish system
Yes it was part time as at the time I (lone parent-divorced) had 2 school kids and lived over an hours drive away from the Uni- but I had a couple of extensions- the longest was because for years I asked for lab space. My supervisor never had a lab or worked in one- furthermore he never told me about the need for ethical consent- this was when the Alderhey investigation was being done. Eventually the department told me to ask for an extension because of the slowness in granting ethical consent, even though I was annoyed and told them so (OIA ignored this) that it was really because of lack of facilities. Even when I had Ethical consent, they still never offered anything until I failed a progress report a year later (the only other black spot on my record-this was after 6 years- because I could not do the lab work & I complained (may be a mistake as this gave the excuse they were looking for) They the set up lab space then got 2 people, one being the technician (who I found out never liked me & thats why lab space was not offered before) to write diaries on me, these contained personal info- last year the Information Commissioners Office said it was a breach of the data protection act (the diary year was a very bad time of my life) the Uni used the diaries against me, mainly for bad time keeping- which was not true as- wait for it- in the 10 years- no one gave timetables, they did not seem to note when you worked into the evening when everyone had gone home.
The OIA could not care less about it. However valid your reasons for an extension are- the Uni use it against you as if they are being caring and not devious.
The supervisor should not have allowed (he was told of the regulations at the time)the thesis to be submitted if he felt the way he did- his excuse was more or less that it would bring an end to it- it did for me as I do not trust these people anymore - failing a PhD means you can not take it somewhere else- it makes nothing worth doing anymore
Oh Mercy. I echo Satchi's comment. I have neither experience nor advice, but your story is just horrible and I am sorry to hear it. You seem understandably broken by the whole mess, but I would urge you not to give up on your future (wherever your future might take you). It might seem impossible to believe right now, but I'm sure you can "look forward" something again, even if you do have the enormous and unfair task of starting again from scratch. You could spend the rest of your life buried under the pain and frustration they've caused you, but it won't hurt them one jot.
Take care (gift)
the sad thing is, after reading the OIA student survey, I am not the only one out there with this sort of experience. It is so isolating- and that is why the unis and the OIA treat PhD students the way they do, there is no force of opinion to be reckoned with.
The only route is expensive legal action- tough on the student as educational law is a small field with few experienced people who deal with Unis- who have lawyers on tap inside & out as well as insurance and networking through affiliated associations
The OIA survey repeatedly states there is an "inequality of arms"- something the OIA fail to mention in the official report they garnered from the survey.
I will never get a good reference to move on although the only thing I have done wrong is to have poor judgment regarding the integrity of academics and what is supposed to be their independent (!!!) ombudsman. The uni said I could always publish a book- its not the same though.
The Students Union ignored me- so who is supposed to represent us fairly?
I admire you- you sound as if you are from a similar background as myself. One of my problems is that osteosarcoma- the subject of my research is a real niche thing. Apart from my supervisor, who was a pathologist, no one knew or wanted to know about it, apart from the 1 "friendly" academic, who it now seems was just part of a good cop/bad cop scenario as he kept promising but never delivered.
I had to change the direction of my research from lab work to epidemiology after the lab episode- I asked to change departments and was told I could not because of all the black stuff on my file- the diaries. I asked a neighbour who was in epidemiology based research for help- she said she was too busy.
I live in rural isolation, and am tied by domestic circumstances, I never really get away. In retrospect I should not have been so naive to think I could have done it all on my own, this is why I checked the thesis out with 3 academics- who all thought it should pass. Unfortunately my complaint at Uni had not endeared me to those in power, who thought I had a good case for suing, one wrote a letter that they should be united in their action to show the problems were of my doing- not theirs- and he sat on the exams board (the OIA ignored this saying despite evidence to the contrary, that he was only aware of 1 side of the story- they will not state why the evidence is not taken into consideration). I would love to have my work published but only have a home address now, the first paper I sent off, came back saying it was very original & they would love to have it back- but it needed polishing up by an an academic- I now have a total of 3 papers- all original in approach. But what do you do if you are no longer associated with academia. I would guess I could take another 6 papers from the thesis- again the approach was original comparing the cancer in 2 species- it would be hard for someone to get as much data as I collected, given the time & the way data is managed now. This cancer was the reason for a lot of my own heartbreak, so maybe I am just too emotionally involved.
Well done you, without being sexist- did the male tenacity help- I find men can be more clinical than women & this helps with papers by making them "neater"- just my opinion .
Its great to find this forum & give vent, but boy does it hurt. I am considering legal action- against the advice of my family who feel it would be too expensive and just cause more pain
Don't know about male tenacity but one thing helped. This was that I had done well on my masters degree in 2004 - this had a course work component as well as a written thesis - and sometimes when my confidence was rock bottom I thought to myself 'I did well then I can do well again'. Sometimes this didn't work and I just sat there crying for days on end in front of a blank screen. It was hard. But I did get the degree and I am now a very qualified shepherd.
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