Supervisor - threats to write up!


I was funded by the MRC for 3years and recieved a 6month extension of funds on the provision that i write my thesis after this period. After careful thought and personal reasons (both finance, health and acedemic) i could not complete the write up. I did not enjoy my PhD and did not receive personal or professinoal support or development from my supervisor. In fact the opposite, no encouragment or praise, i was told on numerous occasions that i didn't have enough data to write up. (i had data in 2publications but also felt that i needed at least a year extra work for which i wouldn't be funded)

Now my supervisor says that if the MRC knew they would make me pay back the extension funding and that he is suprised that i would not write up as i had sufficient data. He wrote me a terrible letter saying i would be to blame for a long list of consequences on both myself and him.

The advice i need is where do i stand? will i have to pay back funds? should i be feeling this huge amount of guilt that has been piled on me?

Trouble ex-student


awful supervisor!
anybody knows more about the system, please help..


Wow that sounds really harsh. I can't help I'm afraid but wanted to show support - be strong! Defo terrible supervisor, chin up and good luck x


Ask for a further extension. In one way, I can understand the actions of your supervisor, as it looks bad on him. But equally, if he has not been much help, then it's very hard to complete. You should explain this to him.

Contact the funding body, and ask for a further 6 mths to complete, and set out the reasons why you were not able to complete the last time.

Get the PhD submitted asap, and if it's no good, then you can get it thrown back for a re-write.


It sounds to me that your supervisor is nothing more than a bitter troll!!! He is trying to make you feel guilty for the failure of the project. He is obviously pissed because there are serious repercussions for him. Consider that when a student drops out this can be very embarrassing for a supervisor. He may well have staked his reputation on this project and a lot of money might well have been invested. Departments can lose funding if students drop out….

Of course every student is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of a project but the whole point of having a supervisor is so that they can advise and guide you through the process and help you reach your potential as a researcher. As you progress through the project you take on more responsibility and rely less on guided supervision. If your supervisor hasn’t given you appropriate support and the project fails then he needs to accept a good measure of responsibility for the failure.


As regards the money end of things, I’ve never ever heard of a student having to pay back grant money and id very sure that legally speaking your supervisor hasn’t got a leg to stand on. What you could do is make a call to the MRC and ask them what the story is. I’m pretty sure you are under no obligation to pay any money back.

He is clearly trying to get you upset over this, so don’t let him. Put this down as a learning experience and move on. Let him be the one who is upset and bitter about this….

I dropped out after a year and my supervisor complained behind my back that I had wasted 25000 pounds of his money. I was funded by the EPSRC and im pretty sure the if students could be obliged to pay money back my supervisor would have done everything he could too make sure I had to pay back


I am funded by the ESRC and I am pretty sure it says that if I leave or don't complete without a darned good reason I have to pay my monies back. I find it terrifying! Do you think that's not true then?


As Ms1981 says there where: ( economic, health and financial reasons ) sounds to me like there could be plenty of valid reasons for leaving. Again it is probably best to ask MRC themselves or if you dont feel comfortable doing this,then approach the personal tutor assigned to you by your departmant or college (who ever it is that deals with students problems).

Like I said, I've never heard of anyone having to pay money back although I'd be interested to hear otherwise.


pay money back?. that must be joking. it is research, how can you be sure it will achieve something expected?


My funding body says that if you withdraw before the 3 years is up they will examine the amount of work done and see whether you have to pay back some of your funding. They see if you have been dossing for 3 years basically! This thought terrifies me, and has actually been my main reason for not quitting on occasion!!!

I don't know if they could make you pay it back once your initial funding was up though? Or do they still keep checking up on you (I mean even when your funding has ended) to see whether you have successfully completed?

Sorry I am not much help Ms1981 but I don't know too much about it myself


This makes me worried as I am funded by the MRC...


Thankyou for your replies & support, I certainly dont feel as guitly now.

I emailed the MRC and got the following response:
"The MRC does not have any particular rule on claiming back money if a thesis isn’t submitted. However, your university is responsible for the administering of your funding so we would leave that decision up to them. May I suggest you talk to your funding co-ordinator at the university, for advice on where your institution stands regarding this?"......


.....I didn't mention earlier that its been 14months since I left the lab and now have a full time job which I love and so couldn't possibly return. I tried for 2months to write up and realised it was not working after which I was totally broke and had to get a job. This week is the first time my supervisor has even tried to contact me regarding my thesis since my last visit to the lab for help a year ago when all he said was 'i thought you'd left'!!!!!

Anyway, thanks again and i will certainly keep you updated with how things go. If anyone does have further advice on how to handle the situation be happy to hear it.


i friend of mine is mrc funded and was told if she left she would have to pay back the last month if she left just after being (i.e knowingly getting that month then leaving, but no way would it be the whole three years funding!


hi, have you officially terminated your phd and student status?