Kicked off PhD


My own fault. Failed my first year report viva and am leaving my PhD. I had problems with getting equipment - and then there was a flood in the lab which meant that my actual report represented 2 weeks work rather than 1 years. But I got slated for everything - including my basic knowledge. I just couldn't engage my head and now I'm gone.

Question is - does anyone know how long you continue to be paid for? I still have rent to pay and could really do with another months stipend. If I appeal do you think I will still get paid?

I'm now looking for work - but it won't start tomorrow.


Quote From terriblestudent:
My own fault. Failed my first year report viva and am leaving my PhD. I had problems with getting equipment - and then there was a flood in the lab which meant that my actual report represented 2 weeks work rather than 1 years. But I got slated for everything - including my basic knowledge. I just couldn't engage my head and now I'm gone.

Question is - does anyone know how long you continue to be paid for? I still have rent to pay and could really do with another months stipend. If I appeal do you think I will still get paid?

I'm now looking for work - but it won't start tomorrow.

No idea about the appeal but you need to register for unemployment today as a priority before you do anything else. Do NOT tell your landlord you are out of work.


I won't need unemployment benefits. I have the ability to earn a modest income doing something I hate. But I'm just still a bit shocked about it all. And I won't be staying in this city anyway - I hate it.

Would really like to get another months stipend - partly because it would mean I don't owe the uni any money. I have had a really rough ride with them paying me wrong etc... Meaning that I had to pay back after they put too much into my account. In one month the balance would have been repayed.

I'm still a bit shocked. My supervisor has never known this to happen and was shocked. He said given my performance he'd have failed me as well. But I just feel a bit numb from it.


You failed your first year viva and they kicked you off? What happened to an action plan for improvement? I would go and see your postgraduate admin personal or head of grad school or students' union sharpish. Tell them you were nervous or something and want a second shot at it. Then read like hell for a week - there can't be that much you don't know.

You'll most likely get your next stipend, because it's due in April right? They won't have time to cancel it.

I bet you will still get paid if you appeal, yes. You'll be paid for as long as you are a registered student.


They are not giving me a chance to improve. They just said I didn't show enough promise and that it was the end of the line. My supervisor was great - and said he was blaming himself. He was fantastic and I just feel like I let him down, and I let my self down. One of the examiners is a dean of research so there isn't much higher I can go.

When I started I didn't have a masters or any experience in writing. This was my first real writing exercise given I'm a little older. And I got ripped to shreds. Totally humiliating. My presentation was ripped to shreads. I just kept being asked questions and my mind went blank. I just couldn't remember the basics. I'm dyslexic and don't absorb things by just reading books - but when I said I didn't read books like that I was scolded.

Tbh I know I messed up. I'd have liked to have been given a week or two to improve things. To show what I could really do. But that isn't going to happen. They did say I could appeal and my supervisor said he'd help me - but I looked in his eyes and know there is no point. I've just wasted a year of my life.

I've had to tell my partner I've failed. I've had to tell my mum. I've got the stress of no guaranteed income now. I need to look for a job. And I am utterly embaressed. I've just had enough of it. All I want is a clean break and to get on with my life.


This is a difficult time for you right now. I wouldn't make any rash decisions. Think about whether you want to stay on. Your supervisor didn't expect this result so you can't be that bad. Did you expect to fail? I'd be surprised if university policy allowed you to just leave like this - don't they want to retain their students? I've never heard of this before. People are usually given several chances to improve before they are told they can't continue. Unless you were in some kind of probationary period I guess? But I've never heard of that either.


I didn't expect to fail. But I didn't expect to do well. I've been hit by so many problem which are not my fault. That I didn't have a lot. The feedback on my report was that it wasn't great but not terrible. My supervisor expected that we would explain this and it would be okay.

The problem was that me head went blank. That was my fault. And then they just decided I was a moron.

At my uni you have a first year report and viva and after that it's decided if you can stay. It seems so sudden one day I'm a PhD student and the next day I'm not. I don't think this has ever happened at my uni before. I know the admin women at my uni said she'd never known someone being told to leave after a first year viva before when I first started.

Part of me thinks there could have been something else going on in the background that I don't know about. But the truth is that it was my performance that let me down.


I agree with Tree, this is very unusual.
Dont make any rushed decision, I understand you are gutted and humiliated but do think about the appeal. This is weird.


I agree with the others here - I've never heard of anyone being asked to leave at this stage, rather than being given a chance to improve. Is your uni aware of your dyslexia? If not then it sounds like an important thing for them to know.


This whole thing is very exposing. Anyone who knows the story would know who I am simply from what I've written.

My suspicion is that I was never going to pass the viva. A comment was made that someone knew something about me which they shouldn't. It was a senior academic on the exam panel who I'd never met or spoken too. Who isn't actually in my group. And he knew stuff about my personal life. I only know this because my supervisor told me the day before the viva about a comment. At the time it was really odd - but only looking back and adding up the dots does it make any sense. You'd had to have done some digging.

My suspicion is that something about my face didn't fit. And this was just a way to get rid of me. Or something about my past they didn't like - and again it's a way to get rid. But there is no way this person would know anything about me let alone details about my life which I have not shared.

Hands up my report was not great and my answers were at best wobbly and worst showed poor knowledge. But it seemed more like a firing squad of lets put someone in a situation to fail. I'll never know the truth I suspect.

I think the reason my supervisor made that comment was as a warning. I might be wrong. But he said it and then said immediately 'I don't know how he'd know that as I havn't told him'. There was something about this that just doesn't feel right. It's possible I'm just making excuses. But my gut is telling me I never stood a chance.


Hmm. Are you considering appealing? At my uni, in my experience at least (just as a student rep on the appeals panel and from hearing from a friend who also went to a panel when her PhD was downgraded to MPhil), the appeals process is fair. It is negotiated by the Student Union and an external body whose name I can't remember (something obvious like Student Appeals). You can get advice from the Student Union on how to do it. It is a long and arduous process though.



Sorry to hear this.

Not sure if the people doing the viva were aware that you are dyslexic - ideally they should have been given some sort of statement/ inclusion plan from the disability support department - although this would have needed to be instigated by you initially.

I would advise you to appeal on ground of being dyslexic - they may decide to turn down the appeal especially if you haven’t involved the disability department already or maybe they will give you another opportunity to redo the viva.

The reason I say this is because dyslexia can cause difficulties in oral examinations because of difficulties processing verbal information or recalling information quickly especially under pressure - hence the mind going blank. This is why it is important to over prepare for potential questions ( although it is hard to know what questions might come up)

It is worth a shot -sounds as though you were not well prepared for the viva which in part was due to practical issues because of the lab flood which led to problems getting data together.

The transfer viva is to look at whether the examiners feel that 1) your research has the potential to lead to a PhD and 2) whether you will finish the research in the timescale available - amongst other things.

It is worrying that you feel a decision was already made before you even went into the viva , yet you feel your supervisor was happy with your work - this seems very odd unless your supervisor was being disingenuous in their support?

If you appeal and are successful, I would encourage you to apply for the DSA ( disabled students’ allowance) and get some support in preparing for the viva and getting back on track with your research - that’s if you haven’t already done this

I am sure you are not a terrible student - sometimes bad things happen out of our control e.g, the lab flood.

Much sympathy from a fellow dyslexic

Please keep us updated.


After reading these replies I will be appealing. Simply because I think it's wrong.

Before that meeting/viva there had been no mention of me failing or leaving. There had been no action plan to improve. I'd just been told to 'live in the lab' which is hard without a lab which is working. I've not had equipment, then there was a lab move, and then there was a lab flood. It's been a mess.

I'll take into account my own failings - which are significant. I did say about the dyslexia when I enrolled - but i never applied for DSA. When I did my undergrad degree I got 33% extra time in exams as the dyslexia was so bad. And I assumed they would take it into account.

What I really need to find out are - how long do these appeals take and if I still get paid. I can't afford to live with no income for months. And if I took another job it would probably be in another area. I do think I've been thrown under the bus here.


One thing to think about is whether it is in fact going to be possible to complete within the permitted time frame, even if everything went perfectly from here on in. If you really only have two weeks of work from the first year to report, and you hadn't used the lab downtime to fill in the subject knowledge gaps, then I can see the argument for saying this is not a viable completion scenario. In that case, appealing on the basis of dyslexia might not make a significant difference to that judgement.
I think you would be well-served to read the regulations about these end of year assessments and check a) that procedures have been followed correctly and b) what are deemed acceptable grounds for appeal to make sure that any appeal you make, is as watertight as possible. I must say if your supervisor a) didn't warn you that this was a possibility and b) seems to be trying to suggest conspiracy rather than owning to their own failings, then perhaps this isn't a PhD you'd want to continue, as that's unprofessional behaviour, and a bad signal for the rest of the PhD.
One possible way forward might (depending on the funding source) be asking to restart, based on all the lab problems. If that is a possibility then seeing if you could change supervisor might also be an idea.


I've decided to update this. Yesterday was the day of my appeal.

And... it was decided that I should be given another chance. They were originally going to give me 3 months to resubmit my QR. But after hearing me out decided to give me 6 months. They told me this in the meeting.

They were very critical of my supervisor. And I think that's unfair. They said I was 'protecting' him. Which I wasn't - I was just being honest. I needed to take a look at myself and realise I needed to make some changes. And there is no point casting blame onto others when I think he's been good.

So all in all I am going to get my head down and give this 100% for the next 6 months. I've told my supervisor about the critism as I don't want it to seem like it came from me. But I've also said if no publication or conference submissions in the next 6 months I'm leaving.

I have also put other things in place to cover the feedback - and will be having meetings twice weekly with my associate supervisor to discuss theory and reading I've done.

So if all fails at least I know I'll have given it my best shot and that it wasn't meant to be. I'm pretty happy with the result - just not the critism of the supervisor.

Thanks to all who advised.