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Would you do a PhD funded in a low ranked university? Watch

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    I got a funded PhD at a quite of a low rank university and want people's opinions on this? Would you do it or not?
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    (Original post by Bear_123)
    I got a funded PhD at a quite of a low rank university and want people's opinions on this? Would you do it or not?
    Depends on what you want in life. If you want to use the PhD to move into other sectors then the name of the university might help you. If you want to go into academia then the publication the project generates and how well known your supervisor is, will play a part in your likelihood of progressing on the academic ladder.
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    If the department, environment, supervision and support is right, then yes, absolutely - follow the money; although as the other poster implies, it is hard to give you any more in-depth advice without a bit more context.
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    If you want to go into academia in th UK, funding is more important than prestige.
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    Some "low ranked universities" are world leaders in a very specific research area. The prestige of a university is irrelevant compared to the reputation of a research group or supervisor at a PGR level.
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    (Original post by worldender)
    If the department, environment, supervision and support is right, then yes, absolutely - follow the money; although as the other poster implies, it is hard to give you any more in-depth advice without a bit more context.
    So I got a funding to do computer science and a research of my choice. I got the option of going to higher ranked university but not sure if I get the scholarship and have to do a research of their choice. The reputation is good for the second choice but the research choices are limited.
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    (Original post by Bear_123)
    So I got a funding to do computer science and a research of my choice. I got the option of going to higher ranked university but not sure if I get the scholarship and have to do a research of their choice. The reputation is good for the second choice but the research choices are limited.
    Sounds like it's the best choice for you then. Overall university ranking is not particularly important at PhD level (much to the consternation of the TSR population); everything else is much more important.
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    (Original post by Bear_123)
    I got a funded PhD at a quite of a low rank university and want people's opinions on this? Would you do it or not?
    Also bear in mind your Phd will be marked externally so it could be marked by someone from a "prestigous" university if that really masters to you. I don't think it should though.

    Aside from the excellent points on here, I would point out its what you produce during your Phd that matters, and its better to have a uni that will support you as much as possible during your Phd rather than a uni with a big name.
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    Funding's a deal breaker. Although I'd disagree with some in this thread that prestige doesn't matter at all - the opportunities and contacts you're exposed to can be worth almost as much as the funding at the end of the day (but not quite).
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    Opportunities and networks come from decent (yes, maybe prestigious) departments and supervisors though. University ranking doesn't really come into that in a meaningful way.
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    Yes but doesn't it follow that *in general* better named universities attract better academics? Also a lot of the opportunities I had access to weren't necessarily limited to my department.
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    (Original post by Quicksand)
    Yes but doesn't it follow that *in general* better named universities attract better academics? Also a lot of the opportunities I had access to weren't necessarily limited to my department.
    Maybe sometimes, but in general ...

    (Original post by Manitude)
    Some "low ranked universities" are world leaders in a very specific research area. The prestige of a university is irrelevant compared to the reputation of a research group or supervisor at a PGR level.
    The reputation of a department or a research group, basically, is what you want to be looking at. Sure, perhaps a strong university 'brand' might attract some big hitters - but it doesn't automatically follow that these people are working in a) your department or b) your field/subfield, which is ultimately the most important thing.
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    (Original post by jestersnow)
    Also bear in mind your Phd will be marked externally so it could be marked by someone from a "prestigous" university if that really masters to you. I don't think it should though.

    Aside from the excellent points on here, I would point out its what you produce during your Phd that matters, and its better to have a uni that will support you as much as possible during your Phd rather than a uni with a big name.
    I think this was true 10 years ago, but academia is just so incredibly competitive these days that the content of your work simply isn't enough. I really wish this wasn't the case - but be realistic! Also I think your comment about a 'prestigious' external examiner is misleading - most people are already in the process of applying for a post-doc by the time their PhD is being marked, and so it won't matter at all to your subsequent job prospects! And I don't see how the influence of an external examiner can compare with a world leading name supervising/supporting you. It's just not the same.

    Also also also, given that the UK is experiencing quite the brain-drain post-Brexit, academics are going to start moving universities a great deal and it's naive to think they're not going to be vacating lower ranked universities in pursuit of the bigger name seats. A lot of academic departments across the country will probably look very different in a couple of years time from what they look like now.
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    (Original post by Quicksand)
    I think this was true 10 years ago, but academia is just so incredibly competitive these days that the content of your work simply isn't enough. I really wish this wasn't the case - but be realistic! Also I think your comment about a 'prestigious' external examiner is misleading - most people are already in the process of applying for a post-doc by the time their PhD is being marked, and so it won't matter at all to your subsequent job prospects! And I don't see how the influence of an external examiner can compare with a world leading name supervising/supporting you. It's just not the same.

    Also also also, given that the UK is experiencing quite the brain-drain post-Brexit, academics are going to start moving universities a great deal and it's naive to think they're not going to be vacating lower ranked universities in pursuit of the bigger name seats. A lot of academic departments across the country will probably look very different in a couple of years time from what they look like now.
    I have worked in the tech sector for a long time and as the OP is doing a Phd in CS I completely disagree that what they produce is less important than where they produce it.

    I think we are coming at this from 2 points of view. My view of a PhD, especially a PhD in computer science, is that a person would have to really love academia to even consider looking for a job there. A Phd in CS will genrally earn a lot more in industry compared to if they stayed in academia. Personally the rewards are much greater in the private sector, both financial and in terms of doing interesting work that will actually have a meaningful impact.

    There are some world leaders in fields like NLP and digital forensics who have PhDs from smaller, less prestigous universities. For example, Thomas Mikolov is a world leading authority on NLP and one of the top AI researchers at Facebook (and previously Google). He went to a university in Central Europe i'd never heard of for his PhD.

    Another example is a guy I worked with in a large software company who gained his PhD from Ulster University in CS specialising Machine Learning. He was a lead data scientist for that company and was easily north of 6 figures a year about 5 years after he left uni.

    IME the OP would be mad to stay in academia post-PhD. The tech sector offers more interesting, practical research projects and far better pay than academia.

    For other subjects, I suppose your points might be more relevant though.
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    (Original post by Bear_123)
    I got a funded PhD at a quite of a low rank university and want people's opinions on this? Would you do it or not?
    Hi,

    I think I would start by responding to your question -would you do it or not? Absolutely! I have my reasons which I believe is informed, as I do a PhD.

    1. Firstly, getting a fully funded PhD in this day and age is pretty difficult. A fully funded PhD essentially means the tuition is paid, stipend is given, conference fees are taken care of, research costs, travel allowances, publication costs, etc. A Uni that gives you a fully funded PhD know about this and are willing to give you this because your PhD and its results interests them. This does not come everyday, to be fair. Many PhD funding come with partial funding or reduced fees and if you have gotten a fully funded PhD from a process which was competitive, please take it. It does not come every day.

    2. At research or PhD level, the ranking of the University does not count as much as, say, Bachelors level. PhD research comes with collaboration with various Universities (top-ranked Universities too) and businesses, regardless of the "ranking" of your Universities. Thus you can study at a "low-ranked" university, but spend research time with top universities too.

    3. Research quality too is distinct from the "ranking of your University". When you publish in a high impact factor journal, this propels you much higher than the "ranking" of your University. A PhD is about research. As long as the University has PhDs (lecturers, readers and professors) in the specific field which you want to advance learning in, then you have no problem.

    I hope this helps you with your choice. All the best!

    Best,

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    The people telling you to ignore prestige are being silly. Realistically, its very unlikely that you will get a permanent faculty position after your PhD since they are extremely rare/competitive outside of a small number of fields (although admittedly CS is an exception). As such, you should be prepared to end up getting a private sector job that will (hopefully) be relevant to your research,

    It turns out that in the private sector, most employers are only interested in university prestige and no-one is going to know or care that you were supervised by Professor Clever McCleversen at Plymouth University who is the world expert in molecular nanobiology. They are just going to see "Plymouth" listed on your CV and pass you over for someone that went to Imperial or Oxford.

    Obviously I'm exaggerating somewhat because the importance of prestige does vary a bit depending on the industry, but its pretty important in most fields nonetheless.

    Personally I'd rather do a PhD at a top university with a relatively unknown supervisor than a PhD at a terrible place with a well known supervisor, because ultimately someone being 'well-known' in academia only really means that a few dozen other academics have heard of them, and none of those people are going to be sitting on the interview panel when you invariably end up having to apply to private sector jobs. Obviously there are exceptions if the supervisor is a legitimate superstar and/or has strong industry connections he can pull to get you a job afterwards
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    (Original post by jestersnow)
    I have worked in the tech sector for a long time and as the OP is doing a Phd in CS I completely disagree that what they produce is less important than where they produce it.

    I think we are coming at this from 2 points of view. My view of a PhD, especially a PhD in computer science, is that a person would have to really love academia to even consider looking for a job there. A Phd in CS will genrally earn a lot more in industry compared to if they stayed in academia. Personally the rewards are much greater in the private sector, both financial and in terms of doing interesting work that will actually have a meaningful impact.

    There are some world leaders in fields like NLP and digital forensics who have PhDs from smaller, less prestigous universities. For example, Thomas Mikolov is a world leading authority on NLP and one of the top AI researchers at Facebook (and previously Google). He went to a university in Central Europe i'd never heard of for his PhD.


    Another example is a guy I worked with in a large software company who gained his PhD from Ulster University in CS specialising Machine Learning. He was a lead data scientist for that company and was easily north of 6 figures a year about 5 years after he left uni.

    IME the OP would be mad to stay in academia post-PhD. The tech sector offers more interesting, practical research projects and far better pay than academia.

    For other subjects, I suppose your points might be more relevant though.
    There is definitely truth in this, but there are other factors too. Most notably, almost all UK tech jobs are in London, a city where earning a salary of less than £100k condemns you to literal Victorian era poverty if you have children, whereas academics in good CS departments get reasonable salaries outside of London and enjoy huge amounts of autonomy and interesting work, while billing £800+/day for private consultancy (assuming they are in a subfield like machine learning or cybersecurity rather than language semantics),

    I mean don't get me wrong, there are many reasons why UK academia sucks and is underpaid, but you have to balance it out against the awfulness of having to work a 9-5 job, let alone a 9-5 job based in London, a city where you need to divide your salary by 2 or 3 before you can sensibly compare it to anywhere north of Oxford. Many/most tech jobs are boring code monkey work anyway - sure if you can get a job at DeepMind or Microsoft Research then that would be awesome, but good luck with that.

    CS is a good field to get a PhD in though because you do get a choice at the end, and the job market (both academica and industry) is far, far better than any other field except maybe economics and the business school disciplines, and possibly stats.
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    Hi everyone,

    Good comments so far but I would appreciate if people write down if they did a PhD as well.

    It will help me to decide on what to do...

    Kind regards.
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    (Original post by Bear_123)
    Hi everyone,

    Good comments so far but I would appreciate if people write down if they did a PhD as well.

    It will help me to decide on what to do...

    Kind regards.
    I didn't but was offered a Phd in Cyber Security after my masters. I declined it because I was offered a fantastic opportunity in the private sector and having done my masters at the uni I was offered a Phd at, I wasn't keen on working with them (my potential supervisor was a jobsworth and his research was wildly derivative).
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    (Original post by poohat)
    The people telling you to ignore prestige are being silly. Realistically, its very unlikely that you will get a permanent faculty position after your PhD since they are extremely rare/competitive outside of a small number of fields (although admittedly CS is an exception). As such, you should be prepared to end up getting a private sector job that will (hopefully) be relevant to your research,

    It turns out that in the private sector, most employers are only interested in university prestige and no-one is going to know or care that you were supervised by Professor Clever McCleversen at Plymouth University who is the world expert in molecular nanobiology. They are just going to see "Plymouth" listed on your CV and pass you over for someone that went to Imperial or Oxford.
    I'm not going to say that's nonsense because I don't know that sector you work in, but in the Computing/Tech sector, that really doesn't tally. At all.

    First, people are interested in what you have done and what you can do. The tech sector is littered with incredibly successful people who don't even have a bachelors degree, let alone a PhD (Jobs, Gates, Zuckerberg et al). Walking in to a huge tech company and saying you went to a "prestigious" university and expecting that to automatically put you at the front of the queue is nonsense, it just doesn't happen that way. What tech companies want is demonstrable proof you can do what they need you to do. Some people get these skills through academia, some through their own personal projects, and for some it comes through job experience.I have never heard or read about someone not getting a job in a tech company because they didn't have a PhD from the right place. That part is for sure nonsense.

    And as I said, many great jobs exist in the tech sector for a PhD grad that are much better than working in academia. Most CS PhD grads that I have met while at uni got jobs outside of academia. I don't get this obsession that having a PhD means a person should look primarily for work in academia. Maybe for certain subjects thats where the only jobs are, but thats not the case at all for Computer Science.
 
 
 
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