PhD Fellowship is lower than I was told

posted
24-Sep-19, 15:36
edited about 18 seconds later
Avatar for Sandrett
posted about 11 months ago
Hello everybody! I opened a thread a couple of weeks ago where I was asking suggestions about which PhD program I should have joined. I had to decide between a Marie Curie ITN in another country and another program in my home country, with a lower fellowship of course, but with a project that I preferred. After talking with the PI, I've been told that the fellowship was about 1450 euros each month, way less than 2200 I was going to earn with the Marie Curie, but still ok. I decided to choose the project instead of the money and the name on the curriculum and I was not regretting my choice, until today. I discovered that the fellowship is not the one they talked about, but it's about 1100 each month. Now I really don't know what to do, I'm just extremely disappointed. I don't know if I should contact the PI asking for explanations or if I have to drop down this offer. Maybe I should start but I should keep looking for a better position. I was really looking forward to start but now the only thing I can think is that I renounced to a salary that is the double of this one. Any suggestion is welcomed! Thank you!
posted
24-Sep-19, 21:09
edited about 53 seconds later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 11 months ago
Just for reference, I am in the UK and get £1200 a month. During term time I roughly get an extra £300 from extra teaching/marking (5 hours a week at £16.50 per hour) and have no mandatory teaching obligations.

Low pay is a typical part of a PhD and 1100 sounds right unless you are in an expensive city. I don't know how much it varies in other countries but I don't think you will get a much higher salary, unless the PhD has special funding. If money matters so much, I would recommend not to do a PhD . If you turn this down you will have turned down 2 PhDs and you will regret both decisions. You might be able to supplement your fellowship with extra teaching but 1100 should be enough to live on.
posted
24-Sep-19, 21:41
edited about 43 minutes later
Avatar for Sandrett
posted about 11 months ago
Quote From rewt:
Just for reference, I am in the UK and get £1200 a month. During term time I roughly get an extra £300 from extra teaching/marking (5 hours a week at £16.50 per hour) and have no mandatory teaching obligations.

Low pay is a typical part of a PhD and 1100 sounds right unless you are in an expensive city. I don't know how much it varies in other countries but I don't think you will get a much higher salary, unless the PhD has special funding. If money matters so much, I would recommend not to do a PhD . If you turn this down you will have turned down 2 PhDs and you will regret both decisions. You might be able to supplement your fellowship with extra teaching but 1100 should be enough to live on.


Hello, I understand this but that's not my point. The problem is that I've been told something different. I know that I can live with this amount, but it wasn't the deal I had with the PI. He knew that I had a really high fellowship and that's why I asked him about the salary I was going to earn. It wasn't my priority of course, I gave top priority to the project and the environment, but I cannot ignore that I'm payed for what I do. Maybe I would have accepted this position anyway, but I just think that this is not fair.
I also want to say that I don't want to quit this PhD, I like the project, the research center and the city as well, I really thought that it was the right choice for me, but now I feel angry and disappointed. I already sent him an email to ask for explanation, but I want to ask for an integration, even if I don't know if this is possible.
posted
25-Sep-19, 02:57
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 11 months ago
Do you have the 1450 offer in writing?
posted
25-Sep-19, 03:14
Avatar for Sandrett
posted about 11 months ago
Quote From pm133:
Do you have the 1450 offer in writing?

Unfortunately I don't... We spoke about the project, I visited the center and met the lab members. At the end, after I had a good feeling about everything, I asked about the money because I was going to renounce to a high fellowship and I've been told a gross annual salary and an approximate monthly net one. They were both different from the ones I've been proposed now.
posted
25-Sep-19, 08:42
by eng77
Avatar for eng77
posted about 11 months ago
Hi. Sorry to hear that. I understand what rewt said about PhD salaries in the UK. It is terrible but this is why many decide to do a PhD in continental Europe. 1450 Euro seems a bit reasonable. Moreover it was agreed already. Putting salary in assessment criteria is not something you should be ashamed of. You have already gone from 2200 to 1450. It is absolutely your right to be financially "OK" during the next 3-5 years. Otherwise it might affect your progress. Now you can ask your PI if there is a way to include additional compensation. Sometimes they hire students in a part time project and give them extra money.
posted
25-Sep-19, 11:30
edited about 2 minutes later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 11 months ago
Quote From Sandrett:
[quote]but I cannot ignore that I'm payed for what I do


You are being paid to be a student. I understand that you are angry, that you have been lied to and your potential income has dropped quite significantly. However, I might be sounding harsh but the Marie Curie offer is gone and you made the best decision at that time.I think you should not regret it and consider this current PhD in a purely pragmatic way, is earning a PhD worth a few years of low pay? You cannot change the past but you can explain the point to your supervisor, ask for more money or supplement your income in other ways. I think you should do this PhD and remember in future to ask for job offers to be put into writing beforehand.
posted
25-Sep-19, 22:58
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 11 months ago
Quote From Sandrett:

Unfortunately I don't... We spoke about the project, I visited the center and met the lab members. At the end, after I had a good feeling about everything, I asked about the money because I was going to renounce to a high fellowship and I've been told a gross annual salary and an approximate monthly net one. They were both different from the ones I've been proposed now.


Ah that's bad news. Unfortunately you've learned a painful lesson here. Not much help now but you should have waited until you got that offer in writing before turning down the MC award. Not sure what to advise here.
posted
26-Sep-19, 00:50
by abababa
Avatar for abababa
posted about 11 months ago
Do always ask.

Your supervisor (or any academic in general) will usually support students in getting the best stipend they can. Often it falls off their radar if the student never raises it; it's not them actively blocking you getting more money, it's just that they're not aware. It's not greedy, ungrateful, or inappropriate to ask for a higher stipend. It may or may not be possible, but if you don't politely ask, and gently push, it will not happen.

Regarding Marie Curie ITNs, as you probably know the reason they offer a higher salary/stipend is they require international (and usually intersectoral) mobility, so they're in effect providing researchers with a financial incentive to do something they wouldn't otherwise want to do. This can work fantastically in some cases (usually where everybody knows each other beforehand); but can be an absolute disaster in others, so if you felt it wasn't right for you, you very probably made the right decision.
posted
26-Sep-19, 11:36
edited about 8 seconds later
Avatar for Sandrett
posted about 11 months ago
First of all, thanks to everybody for the advices. I sent an email asking for explanation and the PI told me that it was his error and that's why he will integrate my fellowship, but I need to keep it confidential. He doesn't know how yet but I will probably receive the difference between the 2 fellowships at the end of each year. This is not ideal since I would have preferred to have it monthly, but it more or less solves the problem. Unfortunately my family's economic situation is not ideal and that's why I applied to the MC even if the project was not ideal. I accepted it after I got refused to a program that was my first choice and this was my main error, I was a bit pushed to accept it because it was a MC and it was stupid to refuse, even because I didn't have any other PhD position. After accepting it, I quitted the job I had as a technician, that was in a top university in Europe. Probably the best thing to do was just to refuse the MC, keep that job, make more experience and try again for the next call in December. Now I have this position that I like, I don't want to regret because I think it's a good position, I just feel I put down my ambition to work in a top institute for my PhD. Also, I'm afraid that doing the PhD in my home country instead of doing it abroad could not be ideal for my career. I know this could sound arrogant, stupid and off topic as well now, it was just a stream of all the thoughts that I have right now and that are fighting to each other. I hope this is normal before starting a PhD and I'm not too problematic...

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