Signup date: 22 Jun 2006 at 5:48pm
Last login: 13 Jun 2008 at 2:13pm
Post count: 120
Kaymoy, we must not be supportive of Amis (and others like him who find easy entry into much coveted academic positions because of their celebrity in largely non-academic fields) merely because his students may learn something useful about writing fiction.
Many people who have gone through years of PhD study and the resulting demoralising search for a job in academia are not best served if people such as Amis are allowed such easy access into academic jobs. Besides it is unlikely that he will have the same workload as a regular professor. His work hours are certainly shorter and his salary is considerably more (nearly half a million pounds a year) This money could have funded several post doc and lectureship positions at Manchester.
But Amis is not really to blame. He was offered the job and he took it—who wouldn’t. The real problem is the Research Assessment Exercise, which makes this sort of thing possible.
Kaymoy, regarding your statement: “who do you think will be remembered by posterity for having contributed to the culture and identity of the country? All of the many thousands with doctorates? Or a celebrated and talented writer?” Surely this is a matter of opinion? It is hardly a basis for higher education policy. It also shows little faith in doctoral students. Who are we to say who will and will not be remembered? I personally think Amis is a slight author, and vastly overrated.
One of the infuriating aspects about starting a PhD later in life (and something you are not told when you start, in case you decide not to do it resulting in a loss of income for the university) is that if you want a job in academia when you finish it you will most likely be disappointed. In the UK there is a definite age bias against employing recent PhDs who are over, say, 36. At least, this is the case with certain humanities subjects, like English.
Perhaps,in certain cases, if you have been lucky enough to have been published in more than 4 high quality journals and presented papers at several conferences, one being an international one,then you may get a job if no one younger is available.
This question is prompted by reading that Martin Amis has become a professor at Manchester University. I am mystified as to why this is so. As far as I can gather he has no postgraduate qualifications nor has ever taught or lectured at a university before. I find this very unfair when there are people on this forum who will find it very difficult to get a job in academia when they have completed their doctorates.
If you do a PhD part-time (as most mature people have to do) and start it around 35, you will be 42 when you complete it. You will then have to spend a few years trying to get at least three articles you may have written published in order to be seen as employable by universities(presuming you want an academic job). By this time you will be around 45. Then you will have to spend a few more years trying to get a university job. You will be around 48 by this time. You will probably be considered too old for post doc jobs, and the completion for lecturing jobs is intense. Despite the new laws in the UK against age discrimination, most university departments still feel the need to favour younger canditates in order to be seen as "cutting-edge". So any job applicant approaching 50 would have the odds stacked against them.
Don’t worry; you will pass. It is very difficult to fail to get a PhD because to your university passing you is no big deal because if you fail to get academic employment afterwards no one in academia will know and so it won’t look bad on your university for passing you. The main thing they are concerned with is your PhD fee and getting another PhD pass on their scorecard. So don’t worry.
A PhD in the material sciences (and to some extent the natural sciences) is the best ticket into employment in sectors such as industry, engineering and academia (post docs, research, teaching etc.).
Unfortunately, a PhD in one of the humanities subjects is really only of use if you want to specifically pursue a career in higher education. A humanities PhD has little currency when it comes to getting a job outside of academia; and could even be seen as something of a disadvantage to most non-academic employers, who tend to place experience over intellect etc.
If you do have a humanities PhD, and have abandoned academia (as most PhD graduates are forced to do because of the intense competition for limited academic positions) preferring to get a regular nine to five job as a shipping clerk or something, then never disclose that you have a PhD to your prospective employer as it will most likely scare him or her off.
Thanks for your replies.
It still seems a lot of money to pay for the overheads of a university. When you take into account the thousands of undergraduate and postgraduate fees the university takes each term, the overhead costs and staff salaries must amount to just a fraction of the total income the university receives from fees.
Universities even sell branded merchandise like scarves, pens, T-shirts etc. Then there are the bars and cafes on campus that add to the income of the university. Not to mention the student union membership costs as well. Also, don’t forget, the fees charged for their continuing education and night school programs. It must come to millions—just for one term!
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