Present for a Director of Studies. What/how much?

(10 Posts)
LauraAshleyDuvetCover Mon 04-Jul-16 22:00:00

I've graduated, am moving on to a postgrad and will be leaving my wonderful DoS <sob>

They've be a brilliant support through homesickness/illness/family problems/course guidance/interview prep/writing wonderful references (I haven't actually seen them, but everybody I applied to interviewed me so they must have been good!) and was fantastic when I missed my PhD offer and gave me advice which led me to the MRes I'm going to start. So I probably haven't been the easiest tutee they've ever had!

I'd like to get something for them - obviously a card where I'll write some of the above but I don't know what else. I was thinking a bottle of wine and maybe vouchers? They've been my DoS for four years (undergrad masters), so would £40 be a good amount?

At school we always used to buy Christmas and end-of-year gifts for our form teacher, but I've only ever given my DoS Christmas cards before! I'm not sure my go-to gift of pretty padded coat hangers (although they are useful!) is quite enough for four years of me being really quite time-consuming. And I know it's their job, but I'd like to show how grateful I am.

esornep Tue 05-Jul-16 08:25:25

I would give whatever feels right to you.

It's pretty unusual for graduating students to give anything to their DoS, in my experience. The exception is international students, particularly those from Asia.

geekaMaxima Tue 05-Jul-16 11:42:15

Bear in mind that many universities have a policy where any gifts from students to academic staff over a particular monetary value must be declared and so can create an inadvertent administrative hassle for staff. The main reason is to avoid potential situations of bribery or inducement. One of my previous departments enforced the policy where we had to declare anything worth over £20 to our HoD.

A quick google might show up if your university has a policy for gifts, though it might not be publically accessible.

A card and a token present - flowers, wine (if you know they drink wine), etc. - would be lovely and more than your DoS will be expecting!

I'd avoid the vouchers, though. Your DoS will appreciate whatever you write in the card far more than an actual present smile

FoggyBottom Tue 05-Jul-16 12:04:00

Oh you really don't have to gify a gift. We're not supposed to accept anything actually, so please - as much as you want to - it's better if you don't do anything but a card. Certainly not vouchers or any kind of cash-related gift. Please, no.

The card is what will be valued. Really.

I've had to accept gifts from Chinese students, as I know it's their culture, but I have felt uncomfortable doing so. Don't assume everyone drinks wine. Gifts I've enjoyed have been homemade biscuits from PhD students and I've received boxes of chocolates from lovely undergraduate seminar classes - a couple of whole class cards are especially treasured.

I'd be really embarrassed to receive more than a card simply for doing my job well. And vouchers would have me going to the College admin people saying, "What do I do with these?" or giving them to my admin staff who are paid far less than me and make it possible for us all to do what we do, teaching & learning. Honestly, we are just doing our jobs. Most of us (some of us?) do them very well, but really that's because we're good at our jobs.

I once wondered aloud to my PhD supervisor about repaying her care, and she said "No you can't pay me back. But you can do it for someone else."

It's a conversation that is still in my head too many years later. That's the way it works - remember what your DoS has done for you, and take opportunities as they arise to pay it forward to other students and peers (I think that's the phrase).

esornep Tue 05-Jul-16 12:18:00

Pretty sure we don't have a policy of no gifts, although perhaps vouchers (= money) would indeed have to be declared.

Agree on not assuming that people drink wine. I don't and yet have received goodness knows how many bottles from ex-PhD students, post-docs who have somehow not noticed that I never drink it.

LauraAshleyDuvetCover Tue 05-Jul-16 13:35:01

I didn't realise it wasn't a normal thing to do - we always did it at school so I just presumed it was what people did!

I will see if there's a gift policy, I don't want to cause more hassle (although since I've graduated and gone it might be a bit easier?).

Maybe a card and flowers then? They've had quite a bit of my baking before - I don't know if it's the same everywhere but we have tutorials with our DoS so see a lot of them and we often took stuff to share.

I do like what you supervisor said Foggy smile

FoggyBottom Tue 05-Jul-16 19:58:48

Yes, she's a wise woman.

Ifnotherethenwhere Wed 06-Jul-16 12:37:32

I think a really heartfelt card will mean much more than a gift.

I have kept all the cards grateful undergrads have written to me and they mean so much. Especially the ones that surprise you (the quiet student who writes a card saying what a big influence you've been, etc).

A gift, even if just flowers or wine, would make me feel awkward.

traininthedistance Sun 07-Aug-16 21:36:02

A card is always nice! I keep all the cards u/grads have sent me smile

And going against the grain above, but I quite appreciate a small gift: the ideal is some flowers (nothing massive!) or a thoughtful book! Nothing big or monetary like vouchers! Some of the favourite things I have received from students are just small jokey or funny presents (there are websites that sell things like Freudian Slippers or Philosophers' Mugs if you're in that kind of field.) Or maybe get together with some of the others in your year and get some flowers or something with them. Presents are never expected though (and we know students have no money at all at the very end of their courses, anyway!)

When I graduated I remember getting my DoS a joint present with the rest of the year group - I think we just all put in a fiver each and got her a (not expensive but lovely) ceramic bowl for her office - she was a real old-school don and had an amazing panelled office full of objets d'art!

I bought my PhD supervisor a framed print, but gave it to him too early grin He ran away to a prestigious Chair on another continent before I submitted and never read the final drafts <grrr> grin

adifferentrationality Fri 19-Aug-16 09:09:13

I think consumables work well. Like chocolate. Or wine. Or gin. Gin is always good. wink

The reason I say this is that DH has an office absolutely jam packed with objects given to him, from the lovely to the frankly bizarre including: decorative plates, the oddest musical instruments, bells, fans, strange pictures with actual real dead insects in them, commemorative souvenirs from various events he hasn't been to, pictures drawn by students (some of which are amazing), and a gong. I think it's safe to say that objects can be risky. grin

And a big raspberry to PhD supervisors who vanish. Mine disappeared half way through my thesis to write an autobiographical study of his angst as a privileged white male, and never reappeared. angry

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