I'm currently a fully funded first year PhD student at a sucky ranked UK university (in most UK rankings around 80-100). My department is not particularly research oriented and has at the moment not too much cash to throw around. The university has just recently started to try to cut their spendings; staff, resources, travel expenses, conference fees, and so on. However, until now I have felt like a wonderboy that the department has gladly funded to go to conferences, but not anymore. Most of the other PhD students are not good. In some cases they are horrible. I am the only one that is funded.
My supervisor is very ambitious and has a really (!) impressive network. His/her research record is alright, not mind blowing, but OK. She/he is really keen that I produce papers during my time there, go to workshops/conferences, and get opportunities to teach. She also shares the same alternative research interest as me.
But I am starting to think that I may be shooting myself in the foot by doing my PhD at this very low ranked and poor university? Will it fuck up a potential academic career?
I have a bachelors and a two-year master's degree from a university that is ranked top 100 in the world. The faculty is well-known for their research and I have awesome grades.
I have been shortlisted for two PhD positions before. One of them was at a faculty that is specialised in my area of interest, research oriented, and is quite well-known internationally. I didn't get the position but I was ranked 2nd out of twenty applicants. Their PhD positions are always salaried.
I'm starting to doubt the choices I have done and would need some helpful advices. Should I quit? Should I hang in there? Should I wait and try to apply to the faculty that almost took me in before when a positions opens up? Any suggestions?
I was at a low-ranked university, PT, self-funded student. I chose that uni because it was easier to access it (I work and live abroad) and because I liked the supervisors when I had my interview.
During my studies, they were enthusiastic, helpful and supportive. During my studies and with my sups help I managed to build a good cv with many presentations at international conferences and a few papers at journals.
I passed my viva with (very) minor corrections, and now (less than 6 months later) I have secured an academic position at a good uni in my country,
So, in a nutshell, my experience was not negative at all.
Definitely the funded one. I would never do an unfunded one. It is just not worth it. Big job opportunities after the PhD are rare, so you should not take the risk. Universities and supervisors are just exploiting you. Rankings are overrated. If you publish great stuff it will be recognised ;) It is also much easier to produce good work if you don't have to worry about money.
1) The financial outlook given the HE Bill, Brexit and probable new limits on international students is poor throughout the UK HE sector. Cuts are the new norm, so you might be experiencing this wherever you were.
2) if your supervisor is noticeably more research active that her colleagues, then she's probably trying to publish her way into a more research-oriented post. That means she has a vested interest in your success in publishing etc - that could work in your favour more than being one of a very large crowd of PhD students in a stronger dept.
Having a good supervisor who you get on with and who will actively support you to publish etc is a huge advantage, and in the end your publication record will count for more than the ranking of the university when it comes to applying for post doc opportunities.
I went to a high-ranked uni but had a poor supervisor who in the end didn't even bother to read my thesis, never mind any papers...
Thanks for all the responses! They have been very helpful!
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