Just a moan...

posted
17-Apr-19, 10:54
edited about 25 seconds later
by ncrbrts
Avatar for ncrbrts
posted about 1 month ago
I have been offered the opportunity to study a PhD at my current institution - conditional as I still have a couple of months of my MSc to complete. I am happy with my project, my supervisors and the university. My grades have been outstanding this year so I am also confident that I could do it (although I don't want to sound complacent), and I really want to. The only thing is... how on earth do I pay for it?

Don't get me wrong, the guides are useful. I understand that there are opportunities from research councils (mostly now closed for 2019, or closed off to me as I don't have an honours degree), and scholarships within the institution (which I was advised to keep an eye on since February but anything I might be eligible for is not yet open, or has been opened and closed in the tiny window I had to pull a research proposal together). It is very frustrating. Finances are the only thing that are holding me back here. I am a mature student with a child so I can't really live on nothing and although I'm working at the moment, my contract is up at the end of May so there is a summer of uncertainty ahead.

If only the Scottish Government would consider doctoral loans like they have in England and Wales then that would at least remove the final barrier. To be honest, this finance thing is putting me off. Anyone have any advice?
posted
18-Apr-19, 14:30
edited about 10 minutes later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 month ago
Ask your potential sups... tell them you're up for it but how do you get funding... they should advise - may even know of some pots of money. In my experience, first port of call is always to try go for funding opportunities - if you have the grades. Even if it means waiting for the windows to come round again.
posted
18-Apr-19, 14:43
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 month ago
Ps. Sounds like a legitimate concern to me, not just a moan!
posted
18-Apr-19, 17:48
edited about 16 seconds later
by ncrbrts
Avatar for ncrbrts
posted about 1 month ago
My main supervisor, though a thoroughly intelligent and decent chap, has admitted ignorance of UK university processes (he's only recently come here) so knows little of scholarships etc. He has, however, tentatively been trying to get me a tutoring job which would be really helpful. Apparently, he says it is possible in theory but noone knows where the money will come from! My second supervisor has suggested that I wait until November for a particular research council's funding competition and he sits on the board so chances would be good... I guess I'm just impatient. I like to know with some certainty what I will be doing in the months to come. Thanks for your advice :-)
posted
18-Apr-19, 18:00
Avatar for bewildered
posted about 1 month ago
I really wouldn't start without funding especially with a child to support. I think your second supervisor is right to advise waiting for the next round of RC funding. A tutoring job is unlikely to bring in enough to live on unless you teach so many classes that you won't have time to do the PhD. I wouldn't be too envious of the English doctoral loans either; it's not actually anywhere near enough to live on after the fees are paid, so you need a job or support from somewhere else too. Why not ask to defer your place for a year, work to get a cushion of more savings and apply to every funding source you can during the full cycle?
posted
18-Apr-19, 18:24
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 month ago
I agree. But what you could do is identify multiple sources of funding you are eligible for. That way you're not putting all your funding eggs in one basket.
posted
19-Apr-19, 12:23
by ncrbrts
Avatar for ncrbrts
posted about 1 month ago
It's looking increasingly likely that deferring would be the sensible option. Should probably start looking for a job too since mine is not guaranteed for the new academic year.
posted
19-Apr-19, 21:18
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 month ago
Another option is to start anyway and just hope that you will secure funding later. I have a friend who did this. Her PhD is part time (I think) and she teaches to earn some money. She has sought out various sources of funding each year to keep her going. I don't recommend it, as it seems like a massive stress and burden. Much better to have a steady income.

What project will you do for your PhD , as there is a possibility that an RA role could be created that would support you to carry it out. This is probably unlikely though as your supervisor probably would have mentioned it as a possibility if it were one (eg if your project comes under the umbrella of some larger project and he could write you into the grant as an RA and/or PhD student).

Good luck!
posted
20-Apr-19, 21:06
edited about 15 seconds later
by ncrbrts
Avatar for ncrbrts
posted about 1 month ago
My hope is, since it was my supervisor who encouraged me to apply to do the PhD in the first place and because my project aligns nicely with his research, that he might come to the rescue lol. My project is fairly niche, very original and I don't imagine they would be too happy for me to scope out my options elsewhere. He has already admitted that I am "valuable" to the department so I may have some leverage for negotiation in that respect. The only problem is, I am terrible at negotiating!
posted
21-Apr-19, 01:07
edited about 16 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 1 month ago
The key to negotiation is to sit down, take your time and make a list of everything you want to be given.
Then for each thing write down your red lines on each issue (if there is one) and your starting position.
You must be prepared to walk away if one of your red lines is breached. For example working 70 hours a week or 6 days a week.

What you are now doing is having a conversation with the other person to see if a position of mutual benefit can be reached. If not, you both walk away. I started using this in job interviews. It's very liberating to terminate an interview early and leave because the job isn't a good match (I've done this at least twice). It's also quite good fun.

The key is not to be in a position of weakness - i.e. desperation. If you are in this position and they smell that (which they most likely will), you'll end up with something you might regret for a long time.
Most people fail at negotiation because they are too desperate to be accepted.

Hope this helps.
posted
21-Apr-19, 09:14
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 month ago
Also bear in mind that your supervisor is inexperienced (I think you said that he is new or ignorant of the UK system). This makes a huge difference. They may want to do a lot for you but not have a clue how to. Also if they are new they may not want to risk sticking their neck out or whatever to find things out (I wouldn't see it as that but some might - wanting to just keep their head down and all). You may need to keep reminding them to try and find out. And say things like, oh I heard of somehow who did x... someone was telling me that they were written into a grant by their supervisor, etc. This should ignite some ideas and prompt them to look into things. You could also be looking at opportunities elsewhere (jobs, PhDs), just to show that you are proactive and whilst committed to the current idea are not totally dependent on it / them.
posted
21-Apr-19, 10:45
edited about 57 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 month ago
I've found that some academics are a lot more in the know or at least willing to try, while others need a push or just aren't up for trying to find things out! Just personal differences I guess. But at the same time, also bear in mind they just may not have any options available other than the standard routes (eg research council funding). No amount of negotiating would work in that case. So don't be put off if it comes to just waiting and trying for that in the end. This does seem to be the most common way when it comes to applying for funding unless your school has its own pot of money for PhD funding. Again, good luck!
posted
22-Apr-19, 07:05
by ncrbrts
Avatar for ncrbrts
posted about 1 month ago
All great advice - thanks everyone :-)

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