Is it unrealistic for someone of a working class background to become a lecturer ?

posted
24-Oct-08, 15:43
edited about 4 seconds later
Avatar for vixhewitt
posted about 12 years ago
Hi all,

I am currently in my final year of my English BA and I absolutley love it. I am on course for graudating with a first and am being readily encouraged to pursue my ambition of becoming a lecturer.
I know I have the passion and drive to follow this path but I have to be realistic. I simply cannot afford it... I have spent the past week trawling endless websites for help and can't seem to get anywhere - next week I will hopefully be able to talk to my tutor. But for now I just want to know how likely is it to actually get funding for MAs and PhDs??
I have noticed a few scholarhsips but what is the likelihood, I'm guessing very very slim! Also is it realisitc to expect to recieve help from the AHRC? All in all I would be facing 4 years of tuition fees. Obviously I will work weekend jobs and even night jobs if neessary. But seriously, can a person from a low income family really reach this goal?

Any advice and help would be great - I seem to have spent the last week either crying or nursing a headache. I have never really had money stop me from doing anything, I'm realising just how much the upper classes are privileged. Why should they be more entitiled to an education than the rest of us?

Arrrrrrrgggggggggggghhhhhh

Thanks for any help
A stressed and upset Vicky xx
posted
24-Oct-08, 15:56
edited about 21 seconds later
by Ju-ju
Avatar for Ju-ju
posted about 12 years ago
Hi Vicky
PhD's are not just for 'rich' people!! Money does not stop someone doing a PhD (you get paid certainly enough to more than survive, perhaps not raise a family of four but...it is adequate) And I don't see why you should be any less eligible for a studentship. If you did well at uni (got a good 2i) then you have as much chance as anyone else. I definitely don't think you should self fund - that will bleed both your wallet and your soul dry. Studentships are the way forward..

On a personal note, although I don't like distinguishing by class, I guess I am 'working class' or certainly I have come from a working class background and it did not stop me. Having said that, I am in loads of debt now, but this is from my undergrad days.. I would n't let it stop you. GO FOR it and stop worrying about money!
posted
24-Oct-08, 16:43
edited about 12 seconds later
by rubyw
Avatar for rubyw
posted about 12 years ago
It's not unrealistic, but it might be a bit harder or take longer than you'd like, but it shouldn't stop you. If you apply for AHRC funding it'll be judged on the quality of your application, and if you're on course for a first in your BA then it sounds like you're in with a good chance. If you don't get funding the first time you apply, you could take a year out and reapply - there were a number of people on here a while ago who applied second time round and got it that time. Failing that, there are always part-time Masters, aimed at people who also have to work to support themselves. I did that, and the same with my PhD. I'm definitely not upper class either!

There are plenty of academics around when you start talking to them from various low income backgrounds who end up with PhDs or become Professors. If you really want to do it, then you should be able to find a way. If you don't give it a try, what's the alternative? Committing yourself to a life of frustration and bitterness because you decided you were from the wrong background to pursue what you really wanted to do with your life? Why don't you talk to a tutor at college about it too? If you're good at what you're doing and you love it, then I'd really suggest you stop worrying and give it a go. Good luck!
posted
24-Oct-08, 16:48
Avatar for vixhewitt
posted about 12 years ago
Thank you for your response! You don't know how much that has just cheered me up!!! :)
So support is there and is available... I'd just got it into my head that I wouldn't recieve anything at all. I could probably work my bum off for living and travelling expenses, its the tuition fees I'd need covering.

Okay I'm feeling more positive now. I think I've just been reading far too many scarey case studies about students having to quit courses etc.
posted
24-Oct-08, 16:50
Avatar for vixhewitt
posted about 12 years ago
Perhaps I was being a little overdramatic witht the whole class thing. Just v. stressed.
posted
24-Oct-08, 17:04
edited about 24 seconds later
Avatar for thecoastman
posted about 12 years ago
I tick most of the widening participation boxes, and here I am about to submit my funded PhD. And class has never really been an issue - the richest people you'll meet are self-funded intertnational students. Seriously, class will be the last thing to worry about with the workload they'll throw at you!
posted
25-Oct-08, 07:26
Avatar for missspacey
posted about 12 years ago
======= Date Modified 25 Oct 2008 07:28:02 =======
Hi Vicky,

I do think you're having a bit of a moan here - there is absolutely no reason why having less affluent background should stop you from becoming a lecturer. Most PhD students get funding and this is not means-tested, so a rich or poor background should not make any difference. When you add up the cost of a PhD in total then most middle-class families would struggle to fund the 3/4 years, and it is only really upper middle-class/upper class families that can give their eager off-spring a free ride (although many do not). Basically, you are no different from a good 50% (or more) of PhD students. I'm saddled with a load of debt after funding my Masters and prolonged my funded PhD work. I think you have to accept that debt and/or no money is part of the investment cost of doing a PhD.

Similarly to Thecoastman, I have only come across truly wealthy PhD students who have been internationals. I haven't met any domestic PhD students who aren't struggling (excluding those who have established professions).

However, I think your class concerns may be more legitimate when it comes to actually finding an academic post. Academia is generally snobby and elitist despite the 'open-door' facade (although this may vary depending on your subject). You'll also find money/class is more of an issue on an international level when you'll meet fellow students with a string of postgraduate degrees from top US universities that cost a prohibitive amount of money.
posted
25-Oct-08, 09:26
edited about 26 seconds later
by golfpro
Avatar for golfpro
posted about 12 years ago
======= Date Modified 25 Oct 2008 09:27:10 =======
Quote From vixhewitt:

Perhaps I was being a little overdramatic witht the whole class thing. Just v. stressed.

Just a bit.






posted
25-Oct-08, 11:56
Avatar for alicepalace
posted about 12 years ago
======= Date Modified 25 Oct 2008 11:58:50 =======
======= Date Modified 25 Oct 2008 11:56:56 =======
You might find this page useful: it lets you see the stats for specific areas of AHRC funding. In English this is about 30% success (but this is skewed a bit by a higher success rate for language funding) for doctoral awards.

http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/FundedResearch/Pages/ResearchStatistics.aspx

Applying for internal funding from your university is also really important. In my experience I've found that people who've stayed in the same institution for undergrad/MA/PhD seem more likely to get funding. You might want to consider if this is the case at the institutions you apply to, and your current institution.

There's really not that much more funding out there for English research than that.

I'm self funding by working part time while I study full time: it's really really hard, expensive, and stops me doing a lot of things that would really help my career development. I really feel like I'm going to be disadvantaged in my job hunt as a result. It's do-able but I'd consider a few things: can you move back in with your parents? Can you choose an institution where you can live extremely cheaply? Do you have a lot of personal debt (except your student loan) already? Do you have any savings you can use to pay fees?

I do think the state of AHRC funding is a bit unfair (for instance, I'm living on about 7 grand a year, AHRC grants are £12,000: what are people doing with all that money?!). If I could change one thing, I'd like to be able to get access to another student loan to pay my fees; PGCE students can for living costs, so I don't think it's too outrageous an idea.
posted
25-Oct-08, 17:35
edited about 18 seconds later
Avatar for vixhewitt
posted about 12 years ago
Thank you for all this advice! I guess as a student who will be living at home and has no dependants I should be ok... Fingers crossed!

I agree, it is really frustrating. I don't see why the goverment aren't willing to fund postgrads. At the end of the day it would be all paid back plus interest. Without wanting to get too political I think they like to keep some of us minions on the lower rungs, you know make sure there's always someone there to take out the trash and sweep the streets! lol. What would happen to society if too many people had access to education - Chaos! It is so unfair but what can we do?
posted
26-Oct-08, 07:32
by golfpro
Avatar for golfpro
posted about 12 years ago
======= Date Modified 26 Oct 2008 07:35:05 =======
Quote From vixhewitt:

What would happen to society if too many people had access to education - Chaos!


Are you serious? Don't you keep up with current affairs? There has been a massive expansion in the numbers going to University? "A University in every town" etc.. is one of the PM's favourite mantra's. Wait till the Conservatives get in. Then you'll find out what its like to be kept down!
posted
26-Oct-08, 09:06
Avatar for missspacey
posted about 12 years ago
Quote From vixhewitt:

I agree, it is really frustrating. I don't see why the goverment aren't willing to fund postgrads. At the end of the day it would be all paid back plus interest. Without wanting to get too political I think they like to keep some of us minions on the lower rungs, you know make sure there's always someone there to take out the trash and sweep the streets! lol. What would happen to society if too many people had access to education - Chaos! It is so unfair but what can we do?


Quote From vixhewitt:

I agree, it is really frustrating. I don't see why the goverment aren't willing to fund postgrads. At the end of the day it would be all paid back plus interest. Without wanting to get too political I think they like to keep some of us minions on the lower rungs, you know make sure there's always someone there to take out the trash and sweep the streets! lol. What would happen to society if too many people had access to education - Chaos! It is so unfair but what can we do?


Vicky, the government are willing to fund postgrads. All the money from the 5 major research councils comes directly from the Government (well the public purse). Of course, the funds are finite, but frankly there is already too many PhDers cf. to availability of academic posts. If you are an excellent PhD candidate, then you will more than likely get full funding. Word of advice: don't play the class card in any respect.
posted
26-Oct-08, 09:13
Avatar for missspacey
posted about 12 years ago
Quote From golfpro:

======= Date Modified 26 Oct 2008 07:35:05 =======
Quote From vixhewitt:

What would happen to society if too many people had access to education - Chaos!


Are you serious? Don't you keep up with current affairs? There has been a massive expansion in the numbers going to University? "A University in every town" etc.. is one of the PM's favourite mantra's. Wait till the Conservatives get in. Then you'll find out what its like to be kept down!


Let's not only blame the current incumbent. It was afterall the Tories who introduced the 1992 Education Act and planted the evil seed of expansion. Although I'm not quite sure they expected degrees in selling beds and surfing to be introduced.
posted
27-Oct-08, 14:42
edited about 6 seconds later
Avatar for HazyJane
posted about 12 years ago
======= Date Modified 27 Oct 2008 14:44:55 =======
can a person from a low income family really reach this goal?


I'm kind of confused by your emphasis on your family's income being a determinant in your likely success. I stopped being financially depended on family when I was 18 - I took a gap year to work to save up for my undergrad degree. But even if I'd had financial support through that, I wouldn't have expected any thereafter. In fact of all the postgrads I know from a variety of backgrounds, those who get support from their families for postgrad study have been a small minority.

I have never really had money stop me from doing anything


Then you're already in a far more privileged position than most of the world. The fact that in the UK everyone gets a free education until the age of 18, and there is financial support for the poorest at uni is pretty amazing. Whilst all of us on this forum clearly want to acquire education way beyond that level, I think we should be careful about what we consider that we have the right to demand. Yes, there isn't enough funding for everyone who wants it, but the situation is far less dichotomous than your comment about governments trying to keep us minions down would suggest.

I think the most important thing you can do to help you progress is park your class-angst and just get on with being the best student you can be. While there are undoubtedly some factors that influence the ease of one's passage through academia, I really don't think 'class' is a major issue - courses taken, grades obtained, and being in the right place at the right time are almost certainly more important. I think you just need to accept that the progression may not be as rapid as you hope - not because of your background, but because of your field: arts subjects are always underfunded in comparison with science subjects.

posted
27-Oct-08, 14:57
Avatar for Smoobles
posted about 12 years ago
Quote From vixhewitt:

I agree, it is really frustrating. I don't see why the goverment aren't willing to fund postgrads. At the end of the day it would be all paid back plus interest. Without wanting to get too political I think they like to keep some of us minions on the lower rungs, you know make sure there's always someone there to take out the trash and sweep the streets! lol. What would happen to society if too many people had access to education - Chaos! It is so unfair but what can we do?


to be perfectly honest, this attitude is not really very helpful - what is wrong with sweeping streets for a living anyway? and anyone who wants access to education in this country can get it, whether through funding FROM THE GOVERNMENT or by working damned hard to get what they want. personally, i receive full government funding for my phd (including tuition fees), and i probably wouldn't be able to afford it otherwise, not because my family is 'working class' but because i haven't depended on my family to fund my education since i left school, and i went out and found funding for my phd and earned the place on the basis of my talents not how much money i had in the bank. i am actually offended by the suggestion that my career may be hampered in some way just because i don't come from the 'right' background - i work just as hard as anyone so why shouldn't i get the job/career/life that i want? blaming failure on being held back because of class seems a pretty lazy excuse to me.

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