Can I switch institutions halfway through my PhD? (Complex reason explained below).

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gingersnaps711
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Hi!

I am looking for some advice. I'm interested in potentially moving my PhD to another institution if I can, but I am in my 2nd year of study.

I love the project, and it is timely and unique. I've done a fair bit of work on it, but would like to know about the possibilities of moving my PhD elsewhere.

There are a few reasons for this - one is that supervisory team has changed three times, but my supervisors still expect my work to have continued at the same rate without any interruptions, even though I have felt my studies have been interrupted by these changes.

However, the biggest reason is as follows:

A member of staff in my Dept is being investigated over sexual assault claims. Several students have come forward, some I know personally, and one staff member has left because of the cover-up that has taken place in relation to this. My PhD project is literally an investigation of sexual violence. I feel morally and ethically unable to complete in a Department that has so defended and rallied around a perpetrator that still remains in post in the Department even after all this.

I am fully-funded by the University and have no idea if I even have a leg to stand on with this.

Any help would be great - thanks!
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Helloworld_95
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That's a difficult situation, and it's going to call for a complex answer.

I think the realistic answer is finding a supervisor who is in your research area at another university, explaining the situation to them, and then figuring out a transfer. That transfer will likely involve losing your funding because universities won't transfer their scholarships to other universities, so you will need to take the doctoral loan. You might be able to convince the university to give you something towards it, after all you'll be a cut-price PhD student for them, but I wouldn't expect it. There are also plenty of charities/trusts that would be worth investigating for funding.
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Keele University
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(Original post by gingersnaps711)
Hi!

I am looking for some advice. I'm interested in potentially moving my PhD to another institution if I can, but I am in my 2nd year of study.

I love the project, and it is timely and unique. I've done a fair bit of work on it, but would like to know about the possibilities of moving my PhD elsewhere.

There are a few reasons for this - one is that supervisory team has changed three times, but my supervisors still expect my work to have continued at the same rate without any interruptions, even though I have felt my studies have been interrupted by these changes.

However, the biggest reason is as follows:

A member of staff in my Dept is being investigated over sexual assault claims. Several students have come forward, some I know personally, and one staff member has left because of the cover-up that has taken place in relation to this. My PhD project is literally an investigation of sexual violence. I feel morally and ethically unable to complete in a Department that has so defended and rallied around a perpetrator that still remains in post in the Department even after all this.

I am fully-funded by the University and have no idea if I even have a leg to stand on with this.

Any help would be great - thanks!
Helloworld_95 has already given you a great answer here. The only thing I would add is that research councils will sometimes fund part of PhD so it may be worth looking at whether you can apply for research council funding as and when you transfer, in addition to looking for charitable and trust funding.Given the nature of your project, I imagine the ESRC would be your best bet. In terms of charities and trusts, some of the larger ones you might consider applying to include the Leverhulme Trust, The British Academy and the Wellcome Trust. Given your PhD subject, there may also be specialised grants from women's refuge, health sources, and sexual violence charities. This website has some good sources and links to relevant web pages: https://career-advice.jobs.ac.uk/phd...sible-sources/. And it is worth checking whether the university you move to has grants and bursaries that you would be eligible for.

Hope that helps and good luck!

Amy
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Mr Wednesday
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(Original post by Keele University)
The only thing I would add is that research councils will sometimes fund part of PhD so it may be worth looking at whether you can apply for research council funding as and when you transfer ....
That's unlikely to help the OP directly, for most UK research councils you need to be a member of academic staff with a contract running longer than the grant you are going for to apply for and hold funding. PhD students are unable to apply for or manage a grant themselves. A new supervisor might be able to act for the OP, but funding probability is low and can take 6-12 months to work through a system, so it's important to be realistic about this.

The OP will need to contact and develop a relationship with potential new supervisors who might be willing to help - some may hold a live grant, but it's unlikely as at this time of year just about every funded studentship will already be filled, and as others have said, if they move, they can't take the current university's funding with them.
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Helloworld_95
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(Original post by Keele University)
Helloworld_95 has already given you a great answer here. The only thing I would add is that research councils will sometimes fund part of PhD so it may be worth looking at whether you can apply for research council funding as and when you transfer, in addition to looking for charitable and trust funding.Given the nature of your project, I imagine the ESRC would be your best bet. In terms of charities and trusts, some of the larger ones you might consider applying to include the Leverhulme Trust, The British Academy and the Wellcome Trust. Given your PhD subject, there may also be specialised grants from women's refuge, health sources, and sexual violence charities. This website has some good sources and links to relevant web pages: https://career-advice.jobs.ac.uk/phd...sible-sources/. And it is worth checking whether the university you move to has grants and bursaries that you would be eligible for.

Hope that helps and good luck!

Amy
(Original post by Mr Wednesday)
That's unlikely to help the OP directly, for most UK research councils you need to be a member of academic staff with a contract running longer than the grant you are going for to apply for and hold funding. PhD students are unable to apply for or manage a grant themselves. A new supervisor might be able to act for the OP, but funding probability is low and can take 6-12 months to work through a system, so it's important to be realistic about this.

The OP will need to contact and develop a relationship with potential new supervisors who might be willing to help - some may hold a live grant, but it's unlikely as at this time of year just about every funded studentship will already be filled, and as others have said, if they move, they can't take the current university's funding with them.
Some PhD students are in charge of their own research council assigned funds, from the application process and beyond, including getting their own grant/account numbers. I'm one of them.

But yeah, while research councils will give partial awards, these have always been for new projects from what I've seen, and will always require that the remainder of the funding is met by another funding source which isn't your own pocket. I'm unsure whether the doctoral loan would be allowed for that. As Mr Wednesday said, funding probability is low, particularly for ESRC, and it's the wrong time of year for it because they're usually aimed at Autumn entry.
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Mr Wednesday
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(Original post by Helloworld_95)
Some PhD students are in charge of their own research council assigned funds, from the application process and beyond, including getting their own grant/account numbers. I'm one of them.
Thanks for the clarification, congrats on the funding BTW I hope the project is going well . I normally come at this from the supervisor end and am required to be able to demonstrate "complete ownership" of an entire 3.5 years worth of funding (approx £100k) before I am allowed to take on a student.
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Keele University
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(Original post by Helloworld_95)
Some PhD students are in charge of their own research council assigned funds, from the application process and beyond, including getting their own grant/account numbers. I'm one of them.

But yeah, while research councils will give partial awards, these have always been for new projects from what I've seen, and will always require that the remainder of the funding is met by another funding source which isn't your own pocket. I'm unsure whether the doctoral loan would be allowed for that. As Mr Wednesday said, funding probability is low, particularly for ESRC, and it's the wrong time of year for it because they're usually aimed at Autumn entry.
Thanks for the clarification! I'm AHRC funded and I applied directly to AHRC via my local doctoral training consortium. My funding application was reliant on me having the offer of a university place within the consortium but not, as far as I am aware on a particular member of academic staff being assigned to the project. One of my friends was funded via her institution for one year of her PhD but then won a further 2 years funding in order to complete via her local AHRC consortium, so I thought OP might be able to do something similar.

I'd neglected to think about timescale - I applied for my funding in the January but admittedly that was for entry in the October - and my friend was also on a standard October entry timescale - so I'm not sure what kind of funds are available for students throughout the remainder of the year. Maybe still worth checking with them though, just on the off-chance they might be able to help? But as you and Mr Wednesday have said, probably best for OP to find a new supervisor to work on the project first and speak with them as they'll be able to advise on funding sources they or their institution will have access to.

Amy
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Mr Wednesday
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(Original post by Keele University)
Thanks for the clarification! I'm AHRC funded and I applied directly to AHRC via my local doctoral training consortium.

One of my friends was funded via her institution for one year of her PhD but then won a further 2 years funding in order to complete via her local AHRC consortium, so I thought OP might be able to do something similar.
Ah, so CDT’s are a bit of a special case as they often run 1+3 masters + PhD programmes and students need to pass the masters component and get to know the field and potential supervisors before the PhD part gets decided. There is usually a pretty robust “buy in” process behind the scenes, an academic will have to contribute a substantial amount to the teaching and admin side of the CDT before being able to draw on the funding.

Re the “1 years funding”, my institution would definitely forbid that, we are not allowed to take on a part funded student with an uncertain future because of the very high risk to both student and supervisor of a funding gap and the project failing. Bad for everyone, if too many students fail to complete within 4 years research councils will often cut your institutions funding allocation.
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Helloworld_95
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(Original post by Mr Wednesday)
Ah, so CDT’s are a bit of a special case as they often run 1+3 masters + PhD programmes and students need to pass the masters component and get to know the field and potential supervisors before the PhD part gets decided. There is usually a pretty robust “buy in” process behind the scenes, an academic will have to contribute a substantial amount to the teaching and admin side of the CDT before being able to draw on the funding.

Re the “1 years funding”, my institution would definitely forbid that, we are not allowed to take on a part funded student with an uncertain future because of the very high risk to both student and supervisor of a funding gap and the project failing. Bad for everyone, if too many students fail to complete within 4 years research councils will often cut your institutions funding allocation.
DTPs are a different situation to CDTs with considerably more freedom and the stuff you're talking about doesn't apply to them. In any case, any UKRI body has to ensure that a student is fully funded.

The 1 year funding situation they're talking about seems to be specific to their consortium (North West Consortium) which offers 2 year awards meant for current students, so I imagine the university only offers the 1 year award to students who are basically guaranteed to get the 2 year continuation award. I'm not entirely sure why their funding system is different, and it's definitely a rare if not unique system. Interestingly the ESRC version of that consortium does offer a similar program, so it could be worth OP looking into.
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