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    (Original post by Klix88)
    As a self-funded PhD researcher, I've come to the conclusion that being accepted is only the start of your problems.

    You're basically a bet that the uni can't lose. If things go well and you complete, you make them look good and they don't have to deal with those pesky grant applications or external funding bodies. If you fail, you're still an extra PhD researcher on their stats for a while. But if you don't complete, there won't be any comeback or inquiry into what went wrong from an internal or external body. In fact if a self-funder withdraws before completing, that just saves staff supervisory resources, which is a good thing. There's no accountability and nobody to officially give a toss. Looking at the form I have to fill in to formally withdraw, it's a single page tick box exercise, which gives no way of describing my reasons for withdrawing which might involve uni/department/staff incompetence. Plus they're going to charge me 25% of my annual PG research fee as a "Withdrawal Fee". Because processing a one page form is going to be such a huge admin overhead. They really want their pound of flesh.

    Someone on my Masters course has been offered six PhD places since we graduated - one from Oxford - but had to turn all of them down as they were unfunded. In my view, they've had a lucky escape.

    Sorry, I'll stop ranting now. For a while... :/
    No, please continue! Actually, you have touched quite important issues, which I haven't considered before. It's good to know as much as possible before I even try embarking on a self-funded PhD. Thank you for sharing your experience with me, this is exactly what I should know and what should be informed for any prospecting PhD student.
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    (Original post by Merro)
    Thank you, I'm quite sad to hear that but I'm getting a lot of similar opinions, which I really appreciate. The more I know the better decision I will make. I really don't want o give up just yet, I really want to stay in science, in research but I can't afford to self-fund myself and I don't want to end up being used and regret it later.
    Most people will do at least two application cycles before they get a place. Spend a year or two getting more experience and reapply would be my advice.
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    (Original post by Merro)
    No, please continue! Actually, you have touched quite important issues, which I haven't considered before. It's good to know as much as possible before I even try embarking on a self-funded PhD. Thank you for sharing your experience with me, this is exactly what I should know and what should be informed for any prospecting PhD student.
    Don't get me wrong - I know plenty of self-funders who've completed, and a couple who have achieved the fabled status of career academic. I wouldn't have started if I'd thought it was an entirely hopeless course of action. It's just that I didn't realise how little the uni has to lose, and how organisationally cut adrift I'd be when things started going fundamentally wrong (a range of staff are outraged on my behalf, but nobody can do actually anything to help). But that won't happen for every self-funder, by any means. It's just good to go in with your eyes open and be aware that potentially, nobody's got your back if the poop hits the propellor (I wonder if this would really be that much different for a funded failer - I can only speak from my own experience).

    If it helps, I have in my hand a twelve month contract with the uni as a lab tech, to start when I formally withdraw. Relations haven't soured to the point where they want rid of me completely, and I'm not so pished with them that I'd turn it down as a matter of principle. Maybe it's my age, but I'm applying a measure of pragmatism - if I can still get something out of the situation, then I shall. The people are still great - it was the situation that sucked.
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    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, apply for as many outside scholarship opportunities as possible. There should be someone in the department/university (namely the graduate school) who should know what outside funding sources are available, or at least where to look.

    Like the others, I suggest taking the technician spot. Some people fall in love with the idea of research, become a PhD student, then fall out of love with research. There's a vast difference between doing it as an undergraduate, and actually doing it full time. It also provides you with the time to learn the majority of techniques you will have to use as a student, along with some of the mental aspects required. Having the extra lab time can be a factor if you apply to other lab groups - supervisors tend to like applicants who are partially trained. Even savings from being an assistant can act as a buffer for when extra expenditure is required, like going to a conference in a far off place, and a travel grant does not cover all expenditures.

    I'm not sure if your supervisor is open to the idea (or it is available where you are), but I know a few PhDs who have been able to take an assistant contract along with being a part-time PhD. The if, and here's the big question, is whether your PI will assign you to a project which will run in parallel to your PhD project. If not, don't bother doing both at the same time. Working on two non-identical projects is not a fun idea, even if your supervisor thinks it is viable.

    On average, the way the funding system works is that a PI can only cover X amount of staff+students. Sometimes a PI may not have the money immediately available, but it could end up being freed sometime soon. Receiving a grant, entering a collaboration with a company, or having a student graduate can open up some space for other students.
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    Lots of good advice being spoken here - thanks for sharing experiences everyone.
 
 
 
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