Poverty for Postgrads Blog Discussion

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  • Agent_C
    Agent_C Posts: 565 Forumite
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    Rosie75 wrote: »
    If your supervisors are outside the department you are applying to for funding, that is an issue in itself. I'm not quite clear what your situation is but, if I understand this correctly, the fees you'd pay / be awarded would follow the supervisors and end up in their departments, and I can imagine the funding department wouldn't be too keen on this.

    One of my supervisors is based in my department - it's just that he's in a subsidiary of the main department, and located in a different building, so he doesn't have a 'presence' in the department as such. The other supervisor is based elsewhere at the University but I was led to believe that such collaborations between departments were actively encouraged.

    We do have a blind marking system and feedback system for assignments - I was referring to my funding applications. The department decides who gets put through to the funding panel, so it's not a fair system in that way. Also, the feedback I received on my failed funding applications was very general and didn't address anything specific about my application - and most importantly, didn't tell me what I needed to do to improve it for next time.
  • Rosie75
    Rosie75 Posts: 609 Forumite
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    Perhaps you need to speak to one of the members of staff on the deciding committee to get additional feedback?
    Your background, incidentally, sounds very similar to my partner's. He left school at 16, worked for 13 years in a job he hated and then went to university to study something completely unrelated to his job. He funded himself through his MA and got departmental funding for a PhD. He was always worrried that his age and background would affect his ability to get a job, but this wasn't the case at all - he beat 300 applicants to get the job he currently has. I know several other academics with similar backgrounds. I actually think academia is far less hung up on age, and less guilty of other kinds of discrimination, that many other sectors of employment.
    3-6 Month Emergency Fund #14: £9000 / £10,000
  • Agent_C
    Agent_C Posts: 565 Forumite
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    Certainly my supervisor doesn't think that my age counts against me. In fact, I have found my work experience to be an advantage when doing assignments, as I know how to work towards a deadline - plus I've got plenty of real life examples to relate theory to!

    The feedback I received was very brief and generic. It seemed that the funding went to what they considered was the best project (although my supervisor reckons there are a lot of politics involved in deciding which is 'best'), and I was told that there was very little difference between candidates. Given that two of us are achieving significantly higher results than others, this does suggest that they are not taking academic ability into account.
  • Voyager2002
    Voyager2002 Posts: 15,342 Forumite
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    Agent_C wrote: »
    Certainly my supervisor doesn't think that my age counts against me. In fact, I have found my work experience to be an advantage when doing assignments, as I know how to work towards a deadline - plus I've got plenty of real life examples to relate theory to!

    The feedback I received was very brief and generic. It seemed that the funding went to what they considered was the best project (although my supervisor reckons there are a lot of politics involved in deciding which is 'best'), and I was told that there was very little difference between candidates. Given that two of us are achieving significantly higher results than others, this does suggest that they are not taking academic ability into account.

    I suspect that the "best" project is the one that is likely to generate the most published articles with a lecturer in the department as co-author, in other words one that fits in beside the supervisor's established research projects. Similar factors come into play when people are appointed to academic jobs: it is not about choosing the "best" person, but the person who will make the greatest contribution to enable the department to pursue its strategy and achieve its collective goals. In many ways this is similar to recruitment in the 'real' world.

    I am sure that your age has not counted against you, and in many ways can be an advantage.

    I would only advise you to apply to different universities, and above all to find places where your research project would fit in well with the goals of your department. Personally, I had a very original research idea, and it took me nine years to find a university willing to fund it. My research became increasingly specialised: after completing my second post-doc I was looking for work for about two years. However, a vacancy arose that required exactly my profile, and they were willing to pay serious money for what they needed. I am spending this week getting used to earning a six-figure 'package' for doing what I love. So follow your own insights, persevere, and the rewards and opportunities are there for you.
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