beautifulbigmacs
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A funded PhD would be awesome (rare as they are) but self funded looks like you get more say in the direction and methods of your research.

Any thoughts on this?
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FallenPetal
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You get your choice of place, most likely in an area you are interested in. You get better autonomy over the direction of your project. It is far less competititive.

Expense is the main drawback. Not only do you have to consider the fees, you should also consider the several years of lost earnings and the cost of living. Also, I'd argue that self-funding puts a TON more pressure on you to actually finish.

That said, if it's your hearts desire to do a PhD in subject X at University Y - and there are no funded places avaliable - then I say go for it (it's not much money in the grand scheme of things). Just make sure you have a back-up plan and a clear idea of your career goals after finishing.
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Klix88
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I've self-funded, as funded PhDs in my field are rare as hen's teeth and that was simply the only way I could find of doing one.

The major issue I've run into, is that I'm the "expert" in what I'm doing. Yes, I designed my own project and selected my supervisors carefully to mesh with the subject. However when the crunch came, they weren't really any help. I'm now about to suspend for a year, because nobody in my department has been able to help me find my way round a very significant block to my research (which has been caused by the uni).

I'd say that if you're going to self-fund, firstly make sure that you're ready to be more independent than funded PhDs, where the people supporting/paying you actually have something to lose if you don't complete. Secondly, make sure you have enough savings or a financial plan, which will cope with extensions of up to a year past your planned deadline.
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Klix88
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(Original post by FallenPetal)
Also, I'd argue that self-funding puts a TON more pressure on you to actually finish.
The problem being, that the pressure is mainly on you. In my experience, self-funding seems to reduce the pressure on those who are meant to be helping you.
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gutenberg
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As a (funded) student in the humanities, I can't say that the fact that I'm funded has ever restricted my project in any way, or what sources/methodologies I use. My funding agencies require reports annually from me, but they are merely to check my progress rather than as a control over the project.

I can imagine if you held a studentship associated with a particular project or initiative, the scope might be limited a bit more. But then, I feel you would know that before applying and accepting, that you would be required to work on a particular topic. Even within that though, there is often considerable scope to shape it to your particular interests.
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earthworm
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The best bit about self funding is that the funding part is the competitive bit. If you self fund you are almost guaranteed a place.
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LSD
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It's really just not worth it. Aside from the fact that you need to pay fees, pay for everything you need to do the research, pay for your own extra courses and conference trips (necessary to finish with a "good" experience-filled phd) the key thing a lot of self-funded people don't think of at the time is that there's always a reason there's no funding. PhDs are so specific, if there's no funding for a PhD in that area then there's positively going to be no funding for post-docs etc in that area (if you're wanting to stay in academia which a fair few PhD students are after). So if you managed to scrape through the PhD and years of stress due to no cash flow, you need to remember you're likely to hit a dead end afterwards and won't be able to take your research any further.

Edit: as said previously, the only bonuses might be getting to direct the project whichever way you want, however this is also very common for funded projects. And also zero competition, basically you'll definitely get a place.

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poohat
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there are no advantages, dont do a self-funded PhD unless you are independently wealthy. You could maybe justify it if you were in a program which gives you a high chance of getting a £60k+ salaried job soon afterwards (Economics at LSE, Computer Science at Cambridge, Statistics at Oxford, etc), but even then its a gamble.

If you have to self-fund then its either because a) there is no money in your field (in which case you arent going to get a PhD-level job afterwards), or b) you werent competitive for funding

edit: to clarify, "self-funded" technically refers to any student who isnt being funded by either the university or a reseach council, so students who have funding from their employer or a foreign government technically count as self-funded. Doing a PhD under these circumstances is completely fine. When I say its a bad idea, I'm talking about actually paying for it out your own pocket.
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poohat
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(Original post by earthworm)
The best bit about self funding is that the funding part is the competitive bit. If you self fund you are almost guaranteed a place.
Its not quite that simple - supervising PhD students takes a lot of time and academics have no desire to spend hundreds of hours on someone who isnt strong. Yeah, its much much easier to get accepted if you are self-funded but at top programs you will still need to have an decent academic background (typically a 2:1/merit from a good Russell Group or a first/distinction from elsewhere).
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poohat
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(Original post by Klix88)
I
The major issue I've run into, is that I'm the "expert" in what I'm doing. Yes, I designed my own project and selected my supervisors carefully to mesh with the subject. However when the crunch came, they weren't really any help. I'm now about to suspend for a year, because nobody in my department has been able to help me find my way round a very significant block to my research (which has been caused by the uni).

I'd say that if you're going to self-fund, firstly make sure that you're ready to be more independent than funded PhDs, where the people supporting/paying you actually have something to lose if you don't complete. Secondly, make sure you have enough savings or a financial plan, which will cope with extensions of up to a year past your planned deadline.
This is another good point - being 'independent' isnt necessarily a good thing, particularly during the early years of a PhD. Most undergrads and masters students have no idea what constitutes good academic research, so if you choose your own topic and do it independently then its likely that you will pick something which has no chance of getting published in a top journal. Its more common to get a lot of directoin during your first 12-18 months, and then to branch out 'independently' towards the end once you have been directed to promising areas of the field, and given rigorous research training.
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gutenberg
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Is there any truth to the idea that people who self-fund their PhD will be at a disadvantage when applying for academic jobs afterwards? I've heard that bandied about quite a bit. I'm not at the stage of applying for academic jobs yet, but I was just curious if anyone had any insights into this.
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PlayerBB
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Does anyone know how to be self-funded like i would feel so relieved if i'm self-funded
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arguendo
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(Original post by PlayerBB)
Does anyone know how to be self-funded like i would feel so relieved if i'm self-funded
Self-funding means you fund the PhD. This means you need to have a lot of money yourself.

How you get to the point of being sufficiently independently wealthy to self-fund is up to you and your circumstances.

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Misovlogos
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In almost every case, funding should an absolute condition to a PhD. The alternative is a major and harrowing personal burden, and with the academic job market in such a poor state, there will almost certainly be no pay-off down the line. If you feel yourself capable, then apply successive years, or even (re-)take a masters. All of this, of course, is a great shame, but with so many awful experiences, it's one worth urging.
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LSD
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(Original post by gutenberg)
Is there any truth to the idea that people who self-fund their PhD will be at a disadvantage when applying for academic jobs afterwards? I've heard that bandied about quite a bit. I'm not at the stage of applying for academic jobs yet, but I was just curious if anyone had any insights into this.
Their PhD is just as good as anyone else's. Possibly the only thing they might feel is that you weren't competitive enough to get funding/weren't good enough to get funding and other people were. That's how I'd feel as an employer.


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Observatory
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A self-funded PhD is neither a job nor progression towards one, it is a hobby. Could you afford to spend the next three or more years scuba diving in Thailand and be happy to come back with that and that alone on your CV? If so, then doing a self-funded PhD may not be a completely terrible financial decision.

(Original post by poohat)
there are no advantages, dont do a self-funded PhD unless you are independently wealthy. You could maybe justify it if you were in a program which gives you a high chance of getting a £60k+ salaried job soon afterwards (Economics at LSE, Computer Science at Cambridge, Statistics at Oxford, etc), but even then its a gamble.
It's unlikely they'd be interested. Permanent staff at these places have better ways to spend their time than supervising students who weren't good enough to be admitted. As a best case, you might end up as an unpaid PA to someone who is kinda-but-not-really famous.
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PlayerBB
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[QUOTE=arguendo;54365399]Self-funding means you fund the PhD. This means you need to have a lot of money yourself.

How you get to the point of being sufficiently independently wealthy to self-fund is up to you and your circumstances.

Oh!! Thanks
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poohat
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(Original post by Observatory)
It's unlikely they'd be interested. Permanent staff at these places have better ways to spend their time than supervising students who weren't good enough to be admitted. As a best case, you might end up as an unpaid PA to someone who is kinda-but-not-really famous.
Its not that simple, obviously if you had a bad undergrad degree and were self-funded then you wouldnt be accepted, but as long as your background was reasonable you'd have a decent chance. At many institutions there are more reasonable applicants than there is funding available, so having your own funding gives a significant advantage. No, you probably still arent going to get into a Cambridge PhD with a low 2:1 from Birmingham, but as long as you have a first or a distinction from somewhere decent (or a 2:1/merit from a top 5-10) you have a decent shot at being accepted into a good program.
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Observatory
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(Original post by poohat)
Its not that simple, obviously if you had a bad undergrad degree and were self-funded then you wouldnt be accepted, but as long as your background was reasonable you'd have a decent chance. At many institutions there are more reasonable applicants than there is funding available, so having your own funding gives a significant advantage. No, you probably still arent going to get into a Cambridge PhD with a low 2:1 from Birmingham, but as long as you have a first or a distinction from somewhere decent (or a 2:1/merit from a top 5-10) you have a decent shot at being accepted into a good program.
I still think you would end up being given drudge work or not being very well supervised (or the former because of the latter). Supervision time is probably more of a constraint than funding for the most part; of course competitive candidates - people who would have a very good chance at a funded position if they just kept reapplying, did an MRes, or whatever - can be used for something even if poorly supervised, but the value proposition for the candidate seems very poor.
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earthworm
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(Original post by Observatory)
A self-funded PhD is neither a job nor progression towards one, it is a hobby. Could you afford to spend the next three or more years scuba diving in Thailand and be happy to come back with that and that alone on your CV? If so, then doing a self-funded PhD may not be a completely terrible financial decision.


It's unlikely they'd be interested. Permanent staff at these places have better ways to spend their time than supervising students who weren't good enough to be admitted. As a best case, you might end up as an unpaid PA to someone who is kinda-but-not-really famous.
Not necessarily, if you learn specific technical skills especially during a STEM PhD then these skills will have value. We typically recruit bioscience phds at 22k and bachelors at 18k. This is on the basis that they have an additional 3-4 years of quality lab experience.
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