Friend thrown out of M.Phil


Hey all,

I have a friend at university who was studying for an M.Phil and had been told she could probably upgrade to PhD- I'm not sure how these things work but she had always said that's what she was going to do.
Today she rang and told me she'd been kicked out, for want of a better word. Her supervisor called her to her office and did it on the same day. I'm finding it all so odd. She says she had no forewarning and she always seemed confident about her work. She's only just got back from presenting at an international conference which went really well.
On a selfish note it's scared the hell out of me. I always assumed that if it looked like I was going to fail my supervisors would give me some warning, some chance to turn things around. Is it common for this to happen? Luckily she seems ok about the whole thing and has already pretty much sorted out an MA program. ...I definitely would not be like this!


I do not understand this. The story lacks credibility because I think right now it misses crucial points.

1) Was your friend a registered Mphil to PhD candidate i.e. waiting to upgrade? In which case, a discontinuation of registration can only follow institutional evaluation methods (for e.g. an upgrade submission, evaluation and viva)

2) Was your friend registered i.e. fees paid? In which case it is impossible to chuck someone out unless they are being expelled for whatever reason (reminds me of school)

3) Was your friend being funded by her supervisor from one of their grants? In which case they would still be a registered PhD candidate, and still be under isntituitonal procedures.

These procedures are often misused, abused, under-used, violated etc etc, but all I am saying is, "chucking out" isn't merely a dramatic procedure, but something that follows something else.

Perhaps she has been told that her supervisor shall cease to work with her. In which case, the department must arrange for alternative supervision.

Please find out what exactly is the issue and then you can help her?


Hi PhDBug,

It's difficult because I don't want to press her for explanations right now but no, I don't understand either. She was always slightly guarded about things looking back- she'd never talked about the upgrade process to PhD, for example, but she always said she was doing a PhD.
She wasn't funded, by her supervisor or otherwise. She was registered as part-time, had a career development loan and worked alongside.
I think what has happened is this: at Christmas she got pneumonia and couldn't hand in her IPA (initial project approval) at the same time as the rest of us. Mine was approved back in February. The months passed by after she was well and she kept mentioning that she still had to hand it in, which I thought was strange as I would have thought it was a lot more urgent to get it sorted. I think she had only just handed it in and has not had it approved. That I find strange in itself, however- both of my supervisors looked over mine and recommended changes etc. before I handed mine in. They would have told me if it wasn't up to scratch. Surely the same thing would have happened to her?
I just texted and asked if she was waiting to upgrade and she said she was, but 'this was just the IPA'. I don't see how she could have been registered to upgrade, as you say Bug, without completing the IPA?
I'm beginning to see she might have given me a very incomplete picture.


This doesn't happen without reason. Otherwise she could take the uni to the cleaners !

Do you think there may be more to this ?
I would allow your friend the dignity of accepting her story, and don't dig too hard.

Avatar for Eska

Hi Keep Calm. As everyone so far has said, it's very unlikely, infact, almost impossible, that you would be 'chucked off' a PhD without notice. However! my previous supervisor did scream at me, and I mean scream, that I should look for another supervisor! So, although you can't be officially taken off the uni books, you can be put in a situation which has basically the same effect on your work as being 'chucked off' without notice. My then sup had been showing signs of cracking for a while, so unless your supervisors are showing signs of instability I wouldn't worry. I suspect they're not, because if they were you'd be on here asking about that - so don't worry.

It doesn't sound to me as if your friend is looking for your help at all, so I wouldn't pry - I think you'd come across as a busy body if you did. It sounds as if she is just letting you know, in the way she sees fit, that she is no longer a fellow PhDer, so I'd just leave her to it and get on with your friendship.


Phbug is right. Rules may get used and abused but grad students don't just get chucked out unless they have failed exams/upgrade viva and even then you usually get at least one opportunity to redeem yourself. Sounds like this person hasn't told you the whole story. I had a first year PhD viva that went very badly and yet I was given an extra few months to get my act together.

You dont just get kicked out onto the street ;-)


Well, it was a long time ago but this did happen to me. I just got called in one day at the end of my first year and told I was not being continued. There was no official report or viva or warning or anything. I left within the week. It was definitley the right thing to do (but for reasons my supervisors were totally unaware of) - but I do think there should have been some warning or discussion about it. Maybe times have changed and this couldn't happen now, from what you are all saying.