holidays and immigration

posted
06-Oct-18, 15:48
Avatar for samcassel
posted about 2 months ago
Hi everyone. I am a first-year full-time international phd student in the UK.
I read the university rules on holidays very carefully, and find that I am entitled to a maximum of 8 weeks of holidays annually. I think this is quite common among many phds in the UK.
However I would really love to go back to my own country during Christmas, Easter and summer to spend time with my mom, who is not in very good health conditions, and I expect the total time abroad to be exceeding 8 weeks per year. I am not that bad in self-decipline and I am confident that I will still be working in my own country.
I have spoken to the university advisor and he told me that I can go back home in Christmas and Easter without application for leave and apply for 8 weeks in the summer, but that is contradicting the university rules which state very clearly that postgraduate research students are not entitled to the holidays that undergraduates enjoy, such as Christmas and Easter. That said, my supervisor had made it clear that it will only be the term time when she will provide supervision to me and I can contact her, unless under very special circumstances
So here are a few questions to fellow international phd students:
1. Do you officially ask for the university and supervisor' permission every time you leave the UK? (Even in Christmas)
2. Have you ever been asked to provide any proof that you got such permission at the border control when you go back to the UK from your holidays?
3. Do you have any suggestion to me on my situation? Such as whether I should abide by the univeristy rules and control my time away to be within the 8 weeks, and whether I should ask permission for leave officially every time.

Thank you very much in advance.
posted
06-Oct-18, 17:44
edited about 20 seconds later
by eng77
Avatar for eng77
posted about 2 months ago
Hi. I am not expert and have not encountered such situation. But here some general observations.
Border control is very unlikely to calculate the total number of vacations days (winter, summer and easter). There is a possible risk if you take very long one (such as 10 weeks in one shot). If you take 4 weeks in summer and 3 weeks in christmas and 3 weeks in easter, I think no body really cares. If you go for a vacation for weeks, I think your supervisor should know. If there is no critical reason for you to take long vacations, do not do it. Do not take like 16 weeks instead of 8 weeks, I think 10 weeks would be fine.
posted
06-Oct-18, 18:54
Avatar for samcassel
posted about 2 months ago
Thank you for your reply.
Then suddenly another question occurs to me. When I go back to the UK, does the immigration officer actually know when I left? It seems there is no immigration record upon exit.
posted
07-Oct-18, 05:27
edited about 3 seconds later
by tru
Avatar for tru
posted about 2 months ago
Hi, samcassel

1. Do you officially ask for the university and supervisor' permission every time you leave the UK? (Even in Christmas)
Yes. You need to ask your supervisor's permission to take leave. Whether or not you log it formally with the university is between you and your supervisor. If you are so worried, then do things the formal way and log every single leave you take.

2. Have you ever been asked to provide any proof that you got such permission at the border control when you go back to the UK from your holidays?
No. At the borders, they probably will ask you what you are doing in the UK. You may wish to print out your PhD offer letter and show them at the borders when you come back to UK if they ask you many questions

3. Do you have any suggestion to me on my situation? Such as whether I should abide by the univeristy rules and control my time away to be within the 8 weeks, and whether I should ask permission for leave officially every time.
More important than your university rules, as an international student, I would suggest that you read your visa requirements carefully. Does it include anything about your max time away from your studies? You definitely do not want to breach your PhD student visa.

4.When I go back to the UK, does the immigration officer actually know when I left? It seems there is no immigration record upon exit.
The immigration officer at the borders DEFINITELY knows when ANYONE enter or exit the country.

Another important thing to consider - since you are planning on taking so much leave, would you be able finish your PhD on time? Most students I know take less leave to finish the mountain of work within their 3-4 years PhD. If you take more than 8 weeks off, you are having less than 10 months left to do your PhD a year.I hope that you are exceptionally productive and do not run into any problems during your PhD
posted
07-Oct-18, 14:17
edited about 1 second later
Avatar for samcassel
posted about 2 months ago
@tru
Thank you very much for your reply. It is very useful to me.
Speaking of workload, though, I now hope to finish my Phd in 4 years (3 years maybe possible for some but it's too much stressful to me).
And I am pretty sure that I will still be able to work academically when I am away. I did my MA in the UK and I literally only spent about 7 months in the country during that year of study. I was almost only in the UK in term time. But I was still able to get a high distinction. That said, I am fully aware that phd is something totally different from an MA.
Actually I feel that I was able to work much better in my own country because there were no drunken brits who would regularly wake me up at 1-3 in the morning, and I can save a lot of time on cooking because the local restaurant food in my country is much cheaper, more to my taste and can be delivered to my door within 15 minutes for 0.3 pound, and for many other reasons. And if you ask me why I choose to study in the UK instead of just in my country, my answer is that the academic enviroment in the UK is so much better in my country China. There is too much academic corruption in my country.
posted
07-Oct-18, 16:14
by emmaki
Avatar for emmaki
posted about 2 months ago
I do not want to sound like the bad guy here, but from what you ate saying I do not think that you understand what o hd is and what it needs.
Comparing it with a masters is probably the biggest mistake! And I am writing this from my experience having done two masters (with distinction) and then embarking on a phd and expecting it ti be a “larger” madter!
Moreover, leaving your uni for long periods of time apart from the benefit of better and cheaper food, may keep you away from everything that is going on there (networks, seminars etc).
Finally, I do not know your area of study but being away won’t keep you away from resources, like books? And I am saying this again from personal experience, as I was leaving and working at another country while doing my phd in the uk. Lack of networking, lack of people who were going through the same and lack of resources were some of my main issues.

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