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Utterly depressed - should I leave?

Many thanks for that; that's reassuring. I have been afraid that they'd make me pay back monies I've already used to live on. It's such a tough choice to make but I think ultimately it's for the best and I need to acknowledge that I shouldn't spend more time on it now, given how it's affected me...

I'm glad you ended up going back and getting your PhD, too.

Thannks again!

Quote From BilboBaggins:

I would expect that AHRC would want you to repay anything you have received in advance. So, for example, if you leave on 1st March, but received funding through to the end of March, you might be asked to return the portion for March. Bit not anything before then.

I think that's the case because I left a funded PhD in 1996, though mine was with EPSRC (my second go at a PhD, part-time this time, was AHRC-funded). And I wasn't asked to pay back anything before the time that I left. I think I left just about bang on the time we got more money, so it was all easy. I left due to a progressive neurological illness developing, though it was sometime afterwards that I was finally properly diagnosed.

Leaving does have consequences for a department, so they will want you to stay. But if it really isn't the right place for you maybe you are better leaving and cutting your losses.

Good luck!


Utterly depressed - should I leave?

Dear all,

I'd appreciate a little advice from you. After scoring top marks in my MA and teaching for a year after that, i worked for three years in an office pondering on my dream of writing my thesis. In September 2009, after a number of failed funding attempts, I got into a top university and won AHRC funding. Hurrah! Dream in sight.

The course has however been a nightmare from start to finish. It became clear that the institution approached my subject in a very different way from how I had been taught it, and I found myself floundering and feeling I'd gone from the brightest to the dumbest overnight. Add to that an awfully unfortunate official complaint I had to bring against my supervisors which was finally upheld but necessitated me moving to a new supervisor and basically writing off all my work of the past year because her specialist field differed. I have since had two months to come up with an entirely different project and I am really having grave doubt that this is for me now. I have gone from an outgoing and sociable person to one who - with the continued pressures of the past year and a bit - cries almost daily, has had numerous stress-related health problems, and lost my partner who couldn't deal with the hours I have been working.

I am truly thinking that I don't have the energy for this anymore, and I decided over the summer that academia isn't going to provide my career. I'm still in my twenties and had a successful and well-paid job before this. I am not sure, however, what happens with the AHRC and this is currently giving me nightmares. If I am re-failed at upgrade (which I have a horrible feeling is going to happen) do I just leave or can they force me to repay my loan? Surely not? If I DO get upgraded, but say that I don't feel I can carry on due to the toll it has taken on my health, can they demand I repay the grant? The smallprint isn't clear.

If anyone has gone through anything similar I would be interested to hear. I feel crushed, defeated, in the wrong job and wasting my youth.... I am working 50-60 hour weeks consistently and I'm still not on the same page as the institution. I feel terrified about making myself voluntarily unemployed but at the same time I have never been as unhappy in my life as I have been doing my thesis...

Thanks chaps.

Let down and being asked to act unethically by supervisors!

Thanks all so much for your help and support. I really have been in an awful state since this all happened; feels like I've been hit by a bus... I have since seen the more personable of my two supervisors last week; an apology was made about how the viva was handled but ultimately I am still with my back against the wall. The answer I got was that my research methods were all wrong; all I can say is they haven't changed since my last degree and nor has my time put in or attitude so I would say there's a fundamental institutional misalignment if this is the case, and I am going to have to learn their ways as if it's a new discipline. (It's a much more traditional place than my last institution.)

Unfortunately this is a really small institution and there's a shocking lack of support - the head of dept is on the research committee so I can't talk to him as he's involved; they have a 'welfare officer' but the rules and regs online say no appeals may be made about academic matters. I can't believe that three hours in three terms constitutes decent supervision but the only place I have to turn to is the head of the institution and that could jeopardise my resubmission mark if my supervisors get wind of it - which they invariably would. One of you said that you get to comment on your supervisions confidentially - of course; you'd think that was common sense good practice! But ours goes straight back to our supervisors first, so what's the point?! It's utter rubbish. I suppose I'm thankful for the comment about funding - no, it wouldn't be in their interests to fail me and thus admit they'd allocated funding to the 'wrong' student... I've been waking up having palpitations about what i'd do if sudddenly I got the AHRC cut - basically no job, no money, very quickly no home. Great...:-(

Anyway, i'm still investigating who I can go to to talk about this as it isn't like other universities - if only it was... Every part of me wants to fight but I'm so scared they'll just take it out on me if I complain and finish me off!! I waited so long to achieve this goal. Thing is it's just my word against theirs; they can refute emails easy enough. (When I asked why no such grave fears about my work had been raised beofre the viva they said 'we did, but you didn't listen'. How can I argue with that?! It's apparently not in my notes of the meeting because i "didn't listen"?! I think I'd have noticed SOMETHING?! So you see I'm over a barrel.

Will keep you posted. What a nightmare....

Let down and being asked to act unethically by supervisors!

>>> and when I returned I was told I'd failed. Then I was shown my upgrade form and pointed to the section where I'd written that I'd had three supervisions. Apparently - which I didn't know - we're meant to have four minimum. My supervisor then proceded to ponit out that they'd sat in on my upgrade presentation which counted as a supervision and I needed to amend my form to say 'four.' This presentation was 15 minutes long and I never had any feedback either in person or after it - it hasn't counted as a supervision for any of their other tutees whom I've asked!! I think this is wholly unfair as it is asking me to effectively lie to save their face.

Trouble is, I'm now in a complete quandry. If I don't do what they ask and cause a fuss about how bad communication has been and how I don't believe this is right, they'll fail me for sure again in September! I am so angry right now and hurt and humiliated... Why, if my proposal was so awful, was I ever accepted and how did it get me funding?! Why was my meeting so different form the informal chats being had by my peers (i suspect something to do with one of my supervisors being alost head honcho.) What can I do now?? There is no chance of me either feeling that I haven't worked hard enough or don't have the capacity to do this - plus I can't afford to give up, financially, with no partner or job to go to - so I HAVE to stick this out. It seems I have no option but to keep quiet, do what's asked and suffer in silence. It just seems so wrong and unfair when they haven't helped me or given me even the minimum of time required for first years!!?

I am so despondent right now; I don't know how to ever show my face again (i left the meeting in tears and I NEVER cry in front of people.) I have a distinction and a first and I just don't believe them in saying i don't have the capacity to do this.

Utterly at a loss. Have asked for a meeting with either or both of them ASAP but haven't heard anything back. I feel like writing to the head but they'll just close ranks and it'll do me no good. How can they treat people like this?????

Let down and being asked to act unethically by supervisors!

Hi all,
Ok, so apologies first of all but this is going to be a bit of a rant and I'd really appreciate feedback from folks who are currently going through the PhD process. I am studying at a very prestigious institution who get top notch research ratings etc all the time... Trouble is, since I started my PhD in October I've had nothing but trouble with them and am now caught between a rock and a hard place.

Let me just give you some (pertinent) background: I worked for four years after my MA, one as a lecturer then three in an office. All the time I'd been hankering after pursuing my PhD, I'd always been highly academic and have good qualifications and referees. Two years ago, my institution accepted me but I didn't get funding so I couldn't accept. Unphased, I fought on and gained AHRC funding last year to take up my place. I left a good job to go to the big city to pursue my dream...

...Trouble is, it's been a bit of a nightmare since the start. I have dual supervision and have seen them only three times since September, which I feel is nowhere near enough. Responses to email queries have been perfunctory and untimely. My proposal, which they liked enough to accept me then elicited sucked teeth of concern and little constructive direction. I ploughed on and started to forge a way by myself. The first piece of written work of 7000 words which I submitted in November they never read, and despite me chasing them for feedback I never got anything from them. Then in March we had to do a presentation to our peers on potential upgrade topic (this institution upgrades early in April of the first year.) Again, I got no feedback despite both supervisors being present. I carried on, preparing my upgrade essay and meeting silence to queries from the other end. Then with a week's notice I was informed they were both going away fro weeks over easter so could I send them my draft by 31st March? (I'd emailed before and said I was working towards the 16th April, which since I hadn't heard back about I assumed had been okayed.) Nevertheless I knuckled down to write it and submitted by 31st. Silence for two weeks, then a scathing response which required rewriting it. This I did, my second supervisor gave me excellent feedback on the work and I rested easy.

So Monday was my upgrade meeting. Bearing in mind that 5 peers I knew of had been invited to an 'informal chat' I admit I was a little unprepared for the three person panel interview. My second reader ripped my work to shreds in the first minute and told me my proposal was rubbish because my subject had already been researched. (She gave no details however and from 6 months' reading I've found two articles on my are, the second reader was on the admissions committee so why on earth hadn't she - or indeed my supervisors - told me this earlier if they believed it to be the case?!) I went to pieces and didn't say half the stuff I'd planned to after that. then I was sent out the room>>>