Need advice did not progress phd after 3 years of effort

02-Jan-19, 22:15
edited about 10 seconds later
by Guava
Avatar for Guava
posted about 5 months ago
I spent the past three years fighting for a progression on my phd especially because I was an international sponsored student and I wanted a career as an academic. I went through an assessment each year and each year they gave me a report to try and improve more. After the third year it was decided to be an MPhil by the board of graduate studies despite my attempts to appeal. The thing is I know I work hard, but I was not given good supervision or good academic support to ensure my work was at a PhD level. Throughout the last three years, I have tried many times to get feedback on my research question and direction as well as my written work from my supervisor to no avail. I tried talking to my department and Graduate education committee but there wasn’t any resolution. I feel like they dragged this situation just so they could charge me tuition fees and bench fees while knowing I wasn’t getting the support I needed. On top of that, after each assessment there were months of absence of news on the results despite my follow ups. I did not realise how ill-matched the supervision I was given vs what I needed was until after the second assessment (getting into year3), by which then it was too late and too difficult to switch supervisor.

The only time I had some sort of support was after I submitted for an MPhil thesis and a kind college mentor went through the thesis with me to help me prepare for the viva. Of course by this time it was decidedly going to be assessed for an MPhil.

Eventually I passed my Mphil without any help apart from the mentor, but now am faced with essentially an MPhil. I read the posts and people said that this is a disaster if I want to continue academia, and I still do because I like research! The only good thing is the MPhil is from a world-recognised institution - and I do not have a prior masters qualification- but I don’t know how I can hide or explain from my CV to academics regarding this without sounding like a terrible failure.

Have anyone been through this? Can anyone offer advice to what I can do if I still want to be lecturing and researching.

I have a meeting with my sponsors today and honestly it is devastating that I was not able to progress. The only defense I have is unsatisfactory supervision and poor research environment but I cannot understand my luck because this is such a common issue, I know others went through this and still got their PhD but I couldn’t.
04-Jan-19, 08:15
by eng77
Avatar for eng77
posted about 5 months ago
Hi Guava, I am really sorry for what happened to you. I fully understand your pain as I have started a PhD while doing RA job and after 5 years I left without the PhD but with some RA work experience. I know that some student survive with bad supervision and some also survive without a decent work or even a coheren thesis and surprisingly, they get their PhDs. But this is life. It is usually unfair.
First point, staying in academia. With MPhil, it would sound a bit diffecult. There are a few cases of lecturers with Master but they might be around 5%. If I were you, I would look for such teaching or research jobs which requires Master (you have MPhil which is even better). The second option is to look for a funded PhD. It is not the easiest job in particular for non-EU students but you can try.
Another option is to look for a PhD in other countries which have a lot of opportunities and do not restrictions for non-EU citizens. Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland are options.
Seoncdly, try to publish a paper or more from the work you have done. It will increase your chances a lot either for finding a job or a PhD.
How to talk about MPhil without sounding like a failure is possible. You do not have to tell the whole story. You can say that because you are international student and the funding is limited to 3 year, you and the committee have realised that it is not feasible. Concentrate about funding difficulties rather than quality of the work.
I wish you all the best in your next move.


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