PhD self-funders Watch

Lmort003
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ive Got a self-funded place for a PhD starting in September. I’m really looking forward to it, I’m returning to academia after 15 years teaching, and this is going to be very different.

I wanted to ask other self funders how they got on. What were the highs and lows of being self-funding? Did you secure funding in the second or third year or pay your own way for the whole PhD? What tips would you give someone starting out?

TIA xx
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alleycat393
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(Original post by Lmort003)
ive Got a self-funded place for a PhD starting in September. I’m really looking forward to it, I’m returning to academia after 15 years teaching, and this is going to be very different.

I wanted to ask other self funders how they got on. What were the highs and lows of being self-funding? Did you secure funding in the second or third year or pay your own way for the whole PhD? What tips would you give someone starting out?

TIA xx
What field is this? Generally self funding is not a great idea but it is field dependent. I wouldn't stop looking for funding though. You won't necessarily be held to the same strict completion timelines as everyone else so make sure you stay on track and don't miss out on activities that other students are doing because you're self-funded.
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Lmort003
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(Original post by alleycat393)
What field is this? Generally self funding is not a great idea but it is field dependent. I wouldn't stop looking for funding though. You won't necessarily be held to the same strict completion timelines as everyone else so make sure you stay on track and don't miss out on activities that other students are doing because you're self-funded.
You say it is not a great idea - is that from personal experience? I hear various comments along these lines but I wondered how those who have self funded have actually found it. My PhD will be in Psychology.
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alleycat393
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(Original post by Lmort003)
You say it is not a great idea - is that from personal experience? I hear various comments along these lines but I wondered how those who have self funded have actually found it. My PhD will be in Psychology.
In terms of an academic career. You will struggle to show track record of attracting funding if you don't have a funded PhD. Self-funded PhDs are not the norm in psychology so I'd also qquestion whether it's worth it. Why haven't you or your project been able to attract funding?
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Lmort003
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(Original post by alleycat393)
In terms of an academic career. You will struggle to show track record of attracting funding if you don't have a funded PhD. Self-funded PhDs are not the norm in psychology so I'd also qquestion whether it's worth it. Why haven't you or your project been able to attract funding?
Once again, is this from your personal experience or your own opinion? I would love to hear from people who have actual experience of self-funding, as those who have not done it will have a biased view towards their route.
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alleycat393
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(Original post by Lmort003)
Once again, is this from your personal experience or your own opinion? I would love to hear from people who have actual experience of self-funding, as those who have not done it will have a biased view towards their route.
Hun I work for a university and have been in academia for the last 8 years. I have been advising students for years and interviewing them too for positions both as students and early career researchers. I’d suggest you stop burying your head in the sand and take cognizance if you plan to be employable after your Phd. Good luck!
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Lmort003
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(Original post by alleycat393)
Hun I work for a university and have been in academia for the last 8 years. I have been advising students for years and interviewing them too for positions both as students and early career researchers. I’d suggest you stop burying your head in the sand and take cognizance if you plan to be employable after your Phd. Good luck!
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fredminxis75
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The Guardian did a very good series on the experiences of self funding PhD'ers ('The self-funded PhD') in 2013 that might give you a heads up on what to expect https://www.theguardian.com/educatio...elf-funded-phd

Your experience of your self funded PhD will depend on your individual circumstance, particularly if you have work commitments. A self funded PhD would not necessarily hold you back for academic positions, but it makes the aim more difficult for reasons the Guardian articles explore and several of my former PhD colleagues were self funders. Some people manage to balance their self funded PhD well, others not so and drop out. I don't think alleycat393 is presenting a 'biased' view whatsoever, it is surely a widely held view that to be paid to do something as time-consuming and challenging as a PhD is better than paying the university for the luxury of doing it (for them!).
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Salll93
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(Original post by Lmort003)
ive Got a self-funded place for a PhD starting in September. I’m really looking forward to it, I’m returning to academia after 15 years teaching, and this is going to be very different.

I wanted to ask other self funders how they got on. What were the highs and lows of being self-funding? Did you secure funding in the second or third year or pay your own way for the whole PhD? What tips would you give someone starting out?

TIA xx
I had the opportunity to do a self-funded PhD and decided against it after speaking to several members of staff (including professors) at two universities. As previously stated by someone else earlier, the lack of gaining/achieving funding is not desirable. The funded PhD's are more competitive and therefore being offered a PhD with funding shows that you were the best person for the PhD - bit like a job. However, I volunteered in a laboratory to gain experience for a masters and every single PhD student (over 20 people) were international and self funded. (Since starting my masters I have been successful in applications for funded/scholarship PhD's). The PI's informed me that the university and to some degree they themselves were not as strict in the requirements for self-funded as essentially someone else is paying to do research they are interested in. This means they do not have to go down the routes of looking for funding themselves or grant proposals etc which is so time consuming. The downside for a UK student (not gaining funding) did not apply to the international students as they informed me that they would be travelling back home after and it didn't matter how they got it, just having a PhD from the UK was highly desirable and all they needed.

I cant personally speak from experience but a friend of mine did do a self-funded PhD and felt that she was treat differently but not in a negative way. They were more relaxed in regards to timescales etc. because there was not a charity/funding body that was paying for the research and wanted it to be done on their rules and timeline.

I think it is personal preference and at the end of the day having a PhD is better than no PhD, just be wary as others are saying, self-funding could affect employment afterwards.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by Lmort003)
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In my personal experience, it is a complete non-issue. No-one knows how you are being funded, no-one asks. Circumstances sometimes reveal ie someone says 'Oh I've got to stay in tonight nad write a report for my funders' but otherwise - do you ask your colleagues at work how much they earn? It's the same sort of conversation - it doesn't come up.

People come up with all sorts of technical reasons why it harms your further career in academia - I've never seen it happen and I'm close enough to have heard about it if it was an issue many,many times.
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Lmort003
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
In my personal experience, it is a complete non-issue. No-one knows how you are being funded, no-one asks. Circumstances sometimes reveal ie someone says 'Oh I've got to stay in tonight nad write a report for my funders' but otherwise - do you ask your colleagues at work how much they earn? It's the same sort of conversation - it doesn't come up.

People come up with all sorts of technical reasons why it harms your further career in academia - I've never seen it happen and I'm close enough to have heard about it if it was an issue many,many times.
Thank you for that, that was my thinking, that at the end of the day a Phd is a phd however you fund it. Plus with the new PG student loads self-funding will become more common for UK students, and self-funding will become normalised.

I also relish the freedom from not being answerable to funding bodies. the money would help but it isn't exactly a full salary. I am in a position where I can manage without it. This means that the phd is entirely mine, running to my timetable and I am answerable to me, plus my supervisor of course. After a long career in teaching that feels very exciting.

Also, academic careers are not the only pathway after a phd and most employers will not get bogged down with the details of how you funded it. Even if I did want an academic career, which I'm not certain I do, there is a lot I can do over the next 3-4 years to boost my employability.

Thank you to Salli93 and others who posted, it is always good to get a range of views on the situation.
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N0ritchin2015
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This may be obvious but I applied to a few unis and was under the impression that fees at PhD level were regulated but one of my uni’s fees were double the price of others-worth ‘shopping around’ if self-funding (I guess if like me topic is broad enough to suit several institutions)!
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