PhD transfer advice

08-Mar-19, 11:19
Avatar for Dil_Emma
posted about 2 months ago
Basically, I am exactly one month into my PhD and I am really not happy. I have a large number of reasons for this which I will lay out below:

1) The first equal reason as to why I’m unhappy is that I still do not have a research question. What I mean by that is that I had a broad research area listed on my application (written by my supervisor) that described everything I wanted to do. However, during my first meeting, which didn’t occur until my third week, my supervisor tells me that he’s asked for funding for a project (a completely different area to what was listed on my application) which would lock up 2/3’s of my thesis. So I have spent the last two weeks aimlessly trying to create a research question using the limited information he gave me whilst he has been away at a conference. I’m still no where near sorting out a topic as the area does not interest me and I haven’t had any response to my ideas (he hasn’t replied to my email from 4 days ago).

2) The other first equal reason is that outside of university my life is not great. My partner has had to stay in the city I left (3 hours by plane away and in a share house with not the greatest people) as she cannot find work here. The place I am in is known for its high unemployment rate and to add to that there was a recent natural disaster that has now caused a housing crisis and inundated many businesses therefore flooding the job market. This has caused me to live in a rundown share house with, to put it politely, people who I share many differences with. The only reason why I haven’t left yet is because I have some good friends still here and I believe that it’s too good of an opportunity to give up (that belief is slowly starting to diminish).

08-Mar-19, 11:27
Avatar for Dil_Emma
posted about 2 months ago
So I have looked into transferring to another university (in the city my partner is in) and I’ve been in contact with a professor who conducts research in an area that I really enjoy (similar to my masters project). He has a good reputation and responds very promptly to my emails, he even looked into transferring my scholarship for me (I know professors are always looking for students to advance their own career however I feel he went out of his way with my requests).

There is a catch though. Transferring to the university where my partner is would require me to withdraw from my scholarship here and reapply through their system which is a lot more competitive as it is a more prestigious university. Furthermore, my partner has managed to obtain a trial (unpaid) in an industry that she moderately enjoys in my city (she is starting training for a different line of work), however it is not until 5 days before the deadline to submit my application if I was to transfer.

Therefore I have to decide if either 1) I stick it out here, talk to my supervisor, say I’m unhappy and change my topic to something I enjoy and hope that my partner can get the job through this trial. Or 2) I talk to my supervisor and say I’m unhappy and I am wanting to transfer (I need his reference for the other university) and leave my scholarship in the hope I can obtain another one at the other university. I’ll add that my partner and I do eventually want to settle in the city she's in so moving there now would make things easier for us in the future but we would stick it out here and move back if we have to.

Sorry for the large amount of information I wanted to make sure I got every aspect that is going to play into my decision. I would really appreciate some advice as to which option I should take and if anyone has experienced something similar. Thanks


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