Problems, questions - need some advice


Hi everyone!
I just discovered this page by googling 'phd problems' and was surprised to see how many people there are who have more or less similar problems. Well mine is a bit bigger and more complicated so I would appreciate your feedback:
I started the phd with my own funding 'assuming' the university will fun me after the first semester. Now they say they can't. It was a horrible mistake. In the meantime, I have registered my phd but feel like is not worth anything since who will hire a phd who funded his/her own studies?

I am 30 - is this terribly late to start your phd?

Possible solution:
In the meantime, I have had a semi-offer from another university which a. is not as good as the one I am at and b. I don't like the location. What I mean by semi-offer is that they will wave the fees but are not willing to pay anything.

Should I just quit all together and with it my dream of becoming a university lecturer? Does this mean that I am not good enough?

thanks folks!




Hi there,

well, as I have seen people in their 40's and above starting a PhD I don't think that 30 is too old at all. It all depends on how you feel and how much energy you have.


well what about the rest of the problems? Like funding and stuff?


You are never too old to do a PhD and NO, if does not mean you are not good enough. Don't think that.

As for funding, it was a mistake to assume you will be funded after you first year. most uni's are happy for self funded students to come, as it is a lesser expense for the department, it's regarded as a source of income and you are just another number (PhD graduate) for the department RAE rating. Uni's leave the self funded students to get on with it when bench fees are paid, that’s all they care about.

It's great the other uni is willing to wave the fees (i hear they can run to roughly 12K a year depending on establishment) but at least it's an offer for you to continue YOUR PhD.

As for the establishment, ok the RAE may not be as high, what makes your PhD from Oxford Uni different from your PhD from Abertay Uni, it'll still be the same piece of work, still be the same thesis and still same viva experience. The uni is just a name, nothing special about it. A PhD is a PhD.


i started my PhD at age 30 and self-funded the first year and a half. i am funded now so what i am saying is: shouldn't you be applying for funding like mad? why are you just sitting there and waiting for things to happen?
1)either you decide to self-fund and i suppose that would make you work hard because it is your own money that's being used... having had no external funding is a bit of a problem for job chances but no insurmountable one. if you get good publications; and can work on a collaborative project which is funded, that's another way to show in your CV that you are able to attract external moneys.
2)or you devote your time to getting funding now. all is not lost. it is as much about perseverance than anything else.


3)or you go to that other funded place - if it's simply a matter of showing that you can attract funding, for job chances, then who cares how much it is exactly?
but overall, i'd ask myself: do you really want to do that PhD? if yes, you will find a way. good luck!


Well I started my PhD at 41 - are you saying I'm too old

The funding thing seems to vary by subject. In some fields it's very common to self-fund because funding is so scarce and research costs can be minimal. In that case I don't think it matters as long as you do a reasonable job like anyone else, funded or not. So I'm not sure I would make that the criteria unless you really need the funding - in which case the answer is simple. Otherwise I would make the project and supervisor your first priority.


You guys are amazing! You are right! I should get my bum out there looking for funding!!!

Thanks guys! I feel much better about this already!


Age has no bearing on when you can do a PhD. I notice in the sciences PhDers tend to be young as the course is a natural progression for many people from undergraduate studies, but in other disciplines I've seen people from a huge range of ages.

I would be reluctant to do a PhD without full funding.


Ijust discovered this site today, and was going to lurk for a bit until I discovered this thread and couldn't resist a response! I'm self-employed and have been doing a part-time self funded PhD for the last two and a half years. And I'm 60 next month, with no intention of retiring until I turn up my toes. My first degree results were achieved despite a disparate amount of time in the Uni bar, my Masters got done in my mid forties through gritted teeth and I was determined to never do academic study ever again. But I got to registering for a PhD when I had a random conversation with a Prof from my local Uni about my passion on the importance of effective leadership in a crisis. He said, "I think you should do a PhD and I'm happy to supervise you". This seemed such a crazy idea, I loved it and still do. My friends and family think I'm nuts, but hey..



I don't think you age is an issue at all - there are simply huge numbers of people doing PhDs in their 30s and beyond.

As to funding - it's a shame that you haven't been able to get any but if you can find a way to continue funding it yourself, I'd say it's a worthwhile investment. I'm self funded - don't laugh - but I wasn't even aware that there was funding to be applied for before I started my PhD! I simply assumed that because it was something I wanted, I should have to pay for it myself. I'm part time and I have a full time job and even though there are downsides to that, I wouldn't want it any other way.

Being self-funded is on the increase. And if you can manage it, it can be tremendously satisfying to know that you did it all by yourself. If you put it to employers in that way, in my experience they react very positively.


' Age:
I am 30 - is this terribly late to start your phd?'.

I started at 32.5, and there were 2 more people much older than me who started a PhD at the same time. No problems, apart from getting research fellowships that unofficially prefer young people


can you find a fully funded phd position? I think there are some countries providing higher scholarship/salary for PhDs..