Hi everyone - would be brilliant to get some thoughts on this issue. I have never posted before, but have always found the feedback people give to problems similar to ones I've had super helpful.
Basically, I had a nightmare PhD. I had 4 offers (all with funding - very lucky!) of PhD places. I ended up going to arguably the least prestigious institution based on how well I got on with my prospective supervisor. We had really great academic chemistry, and I felt we would work well together. Everyone I knew who had done/was doing PhDs at the time advised me this was the most important thing.
Unfortunately my PhD supervisor left the country at the end of my Masters year (I had 1+3 funding). We both were led to believe that another academic in the department with similar research experience would take over supervison, and for this reason my original supervisor advised I stay (at that point I could have transferred). However, I ended up being assigned another, different supervisor once term had started. This supervisor, whilst from my general discipline, had no real experience of my theory, methodology or subject matter. I had them for 2 years during which I believe they treated me very unprofessionally - don't really need to go into all the details, but it was awful. I eventually spoke to the person in charge of pastoral care for the school, explained things that had happened that led to the relationship breaking down (I had kept a diary of events I felt were unfair, things said/emailed etc - some of the things they did to me were pretty outrageous). After much hoo haa I was given another supervisor - a much nicer one, but again someone not particularly au fait with the theory or subject matter. I basically feel I self-supervised my entire PhD. I did make complaints about this at the time, they should be on record.
I did the PhD full time for 3 years, then took an additional year to finish writing up. During this period I still paid fees. 6 months prior to my submission, my supervisor #3 was made redundant (as was suoervisor #2 for that matter). No attempt was made by the Uni to organise an alternative supervisor. I explained how I felt I shouldn't have to pay fees considering I had no supervsion, but they had me over a barrel somewhat as they wouldn't let me submit without paying, so I did.
It then took them 7 months to arrange my viva. During this period, my chosen external examiner went AWOL. I suggested some alternatives, which the HoD (who had never met me) ignored and unilaterally appointed someone else to be my external without consulting me or supervisor #3. Whilst my external was unarguably an expert in the field, they were someone with a reputation for being somewhat difficult, they had also offered me a place to study under them back when I was applying, and I had been led to understand through the grapevine they were a bit narked I didn't go to their uni. For these reasons I would never have picked them as an exte
For these reasons I would never have picked them as an external. I also found this whole situation really disempowering.
My viva was horrific. Suprvisor #3 sat in on it even though they had left the uni, out of the goodness of their heart. They said it was one of the worst vivas for examiner hositlity they had even been in (they have suprvised 23 PhDs). In fairness, I do think the suggested corrections made my work better; but the viva was incredibly aggressive and stressful, and I think a different examiner would have certainly seen the weaknesses in the work as more minor. In addition, the examiner said after the viva, and I quote: "you're obviously an intelligent girl, if you had been given adequate supevison by someone who fully understood the field I have no doubt these errors wouldn't have been made."
I have carried out the recommended corrections and resubmitted. However, I STRONGLY resent being asked to pay a £250+ resubmission fee. I feel the university has repeatedly failed to keep their end of the bargain, and have let me down at every turn. They did not provide supervision by an expert in my area. They did not even provide supervision at all for my last 6 months. They handled my situation with #2 very poorly. They made me wait 4 months over the maximum time stated in the handbook for my viva. They appointed a new external without consulting me. I don't see why I should have to keep paying for a s***** service - in no other industry would it be acceptable to treat someone like this and expect them to keep paying.
What are my rights here? I just feel whatever I do they are going to refuse to give me the award until I settle with them. It seems grossly unfair.
Anyone else been in a similar situation?
Sorry to hear that you had to go through such a difficult time. Stories like yours are however more common than you might think.
My first supervisor too left at the very beginning of my PhD and i decided to stay. My second supervisor was not a specialist in my area, and was also a very easily manipulated person, always entangled in politics. It was a difficult journey, but luckily I got to the end of it.
As far as I know, at least in my Uni, after year 3 you pay lower fees (around £ 100 here) for your writing-up period. You are not entitled to supervision during this time, although any responsible supervisor would continue to do so, as it is the most difficult time for a student.
Equally, if you get major corrections at your viva with re-submission required, there is another fee to pay. It sounds unfair, given your situation, that you must pay for this, but I am afraid that there is little you can do about it. Even if your revised thesis is considered good you may not be allowed to graduate if you owe money to the university.
I suppose that there might be grounds to argue with administration, or for an academic appeal, etc. but do you really want to pursue this avenue at this stage?
If paying this fee is all you need to do to complete, I would pay it, even if it is frustrating after all you had to go through. An appeal could go on for a couple of years before they reach a conclusion that could also be unfavourable to you.
Sara1987, Corinne, has given really good advice. I do feel from what you've written that you have been badly treated but trust me, and I say this from past experience, there are some battles you may never win and even trying to fight them (as I did) will cause you more harm than them. I do genuinely feel for you because I have some sense of what you've experienced (not through the PhD) and although I hate to say it, it would be best to pay the money and collect your well earned PhD, use it and show them that you're the biz!
I've seen similar on here before and to be quite frank, I'd just pay the resubmission fee and move on. Do as Delta and Corinne have said.
In principle, you've a case. However, you've no supervisor currently at the Uni. to fight your corner and it's you against the bureacracy of the University. Arguing your case may just cause difficulties over the award of your PhD and appealing against the fee could significantly delay it.
You external examiner's remarks about your supervision difficulties to me seem spot on. Weaknesses in a thesis can lead to a difficult viva.
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