I’ve been in the process of writing a ‘what PhD students want’ post for ages, and unfortunately it’s going to remain unfinished for a while whilst I hurtle towards a couple of large deadlines.

However we did have a meeting this week between the PhD students and the Graduate Tutor, which was very interesting. It was supposed to help reassure us on matters like the viva and upgrade. It wasn’t at all successful in this, because it brought home the fact that if you over-run (say you get deferred for major changes as a result of the viva), UCL fine you every three months.

Can you believe that? It’s like saying – we know you tried hard, but you weren’t quite up to it, and whilst you try and rewrite your PhD we’re going to make sure you have to get a job as well. It’s something like £400 every three months. How utterly idiotic and counter-intuitive is that?

Of course, I know why they do it. It’s because they want to improve their completion rates. All universities have to do this, if they want to keep getting money from the Research Councils. But from my perspective that seems rather back to front. How about putting students needs first, ahead of the university corporate’s needs?

In other news, I wanted to share this gem of a quote with you. I was walking to the station after finishing optical microscopy (I’ll post some of the awesome pictures soon), and I overheard an academic talking to one of his PhD students. Unfortunately I don’t know his department or subject, but he said this:

“About 50% of academics are nasty, stupid, problematic… I wouldn’t let them near my students.”

Pick your examiners carefully…


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