going to HK for PhD after Bachelor vs. staying in Europe for the Master

posted
13-Dec-18, 21:02
Avatar for jasonger
posted about 3 months ago
Hi everybody, I have been thinking about this topic for weeks, without getting a definitive answer...

I am a physics student in Heidelberg, Germany, just graduated with my Bachelor. I have worked on a research project in Hong Kong (from which I'll likely have my first publication) and have a chance to continue for a PhD there directly. The Prof is very well known in his field and I think is very supportive and the working environment is good. So generally it sounds like a very good plan to me, I also know several recent graduates from this group who got good post-doc or industry positions in Europe/Asia pretty soon.

However, the "name" of the university of course is not on par with the top schools in US/UK(/CAN).
If there are chances, I would like to stay in academia for a bit after a PhD, if not go industry. Also, I would actually really like to move to Canada at some point in my life (best get permanent residency or citizenship over there). So I was wondering if doing this PhD now in HK would be a limiting factor to any of those career/life plans, thus it would be better to stay in Germany for the Master and then get a PhD in Canada if possible (but then of course, I would start from scratch).

I hear many different opinions, some say its good to get going with my academic career as soon as possible, especially if the Prof is well-known and I already can (co-)publish a paper there, some say the name of the uni is not a perfect starting point, people will prefer to hire from a Uni in Europe/North America.

My feeling was it probably does not matter so much as pro/con arguments are balanced, and I personally would want to do it now, but I was wondering if anybody thinks there will be a huge difference for future career chances? Thanks for any opinions!
posted
15-Dec-18, 14:52
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 3 months ago
You are right, reputation matters a lot in academic hiring. I would consider if your professor's reputation in his field and your ability to do good research with him (ie publish) makes up for the anti-Asian bias. If other graduates from his group are getting good jobs that is a good sign of your own prospects. You also have a good working relationship which is great to have (there are some horror stories out there). And you have basically described the perfect PhD; famous prof, successful lab, publications and good working environment but is in HK. I think you would be lucky to get as good of opportunity in the "west".
posted
19-Dec-18, 13:55
edited about 24 seconds later
Avatar for PaperOrPerish
posted about 3 months ago
I would not know how to make the decision if I were you, but maybe I can chip in to add a few points here.

The reputation of the university matters if you want to stay in academia. In universities in HK, only a few (if not none) of the faculty members have a PhD in local universities. It depends on what kind of academic jobs you want or which universities you would like to work at later in life.

However, whether your potential supervisor has a good network will also contribute to whether you will get a good job later. If the professor is a well known one, it may help you get a better position in spite of the ranking of university.

From my personal experience, one of the most important but usually neglected factor is lab atmosphere. It determines the quality of your 3-4 year PhD life. A good working environment is a real gem and you should definitely weigh it more!

Last but not least, where do you want to settle? If you choose to study PhD in HK, chances are that you will stay in Asia (at least from what I see here though there are some exceptions as well). Is it really somewhere you want to stay?

Good luck!
posted
20-Dec-18, 10:19
Avatar for jasonger
posted about 3 months ago
Thanks for your replies... I also felt this actually is a a very good chance cause of the lab environment and so on is good.

And I do not really plan to settle in Asia, even though it would be acceptable if there would be really good career chances (with good working environment and salary, especially maybe in places like HK/SG/Japan/Korea). But I plan something else. And I do realize that many of the faculty did not get their PhDs in HK, however I am wondering if it is a bias or also cause research (especially in physics) was not big in HK 20-30 years ago.

The professor has very close ties to some european and asian universities, but I am not aware of much connections to North America / Australia.

I guess, my situation is really difficult to decide, probably just can flip a coin in the end.
posted
20-Dec-18, 11:56
by tru
Avatar for tru
posted about 3 months ago
Quote From jasonger:
Thanks for your replies... I also felt this actually is a a very good chance cause of the lab environment and so on is good.

And I do not really plan to settle in Asia, even though it would be acceptable if there would be really good career chances (with good working environment and salary, especially maybe in places like HK/SG/Japan/Korea). But I plan something else. And I do realize that many of the faculty did not get their PhDs in HK, however I am wondering if it is a bias or also cause research (especially in physics) was not big in HK 20-30 years ago.

The professor has very close ties to some european and asian universities, but I am not aware of much connections to North America / Australia.

I guess, my situation is really difficult to decide, probably just can flip a coin in the end.


You have an excellent well-known potential supervisor with good, supportive working lab environment from which graduates got good postdocs later in their career. To say that you will flip a coin to decide if you want to join this lab is an insult.

Since you do not realise the gold in your hands, I guess it is perfectly fine for you to just pass on this opportunity to someone else who can appreciate it better.
posted
20-Dec-18, 23:51
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 3 months ago
Quote From tru:


You have an excellent well-known potential supervisor with good, supportive working lab environment from which graduates got good postdocs later in their career. To say that you will flip a coin to decide if you want to join this lab is an insult.

Since you do not realise the gold in your hands, I guess it is perfectly fine for you to just pass on this opportunity to someone else who can appreciate it better.


This really is a shameful way to respond to a fellow poster.
jasonger has earned the right to treat this opportunity in whatever way he sees fit regardless of how you or anyone else feels about it.
You have no right to talk to him like this.

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