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AIBU to think they should at least consider my application?

(33 Posts)
legalhelpplease Wed 19-Feb-14 08:29:39

I have posted in chat and legal and have only had a a few responses. Maybe I hadn't given enough info so I'll try to be as detailed as possible.This could be long - sorry!

I have applied for a PhD. Under the 'funding' section, the application form stated 'Preference will be given to non-UK applicants'. This was because the studentship award that had been secured was one of the ones that is available to international students rather than the ones that are only available for home students.

I spoke to my advisor and head of dept about this because I was wondering if I would be considered at all and they assured me that nationality was only one of the criteria. I am actually not originally from the UK although I have lived here most of my life so I wasn't sure whether I would actually be considered as a UK or non-UK applicant because this wasn't stated anywhere on the form. I used my (non-UK) nationality on the form.

I was informed earlier this week that they are not considering my application because I am not eligible for the funding. They are considering me a UK applicant because I have lived and studied here for over 3 years. I have checked with the university and it is possible for UK applicants to be given this funding but because they are trying to encourage international students and because there are fewer awards available for them compared to the home students they give preference to the non-UK applicants. (as stated on the form).

However, it seems that the particular school has made the decision that they will ONLY give this funding to international students. This was not stated anywhere on the application form and obviously hadn't filtered down to my department because neither my advisor or the head of the dept were aware of it. I have spoken to the administration people and pointed out that the form specifically says "preference will be given to non-UK applicants" which clearly suggests that UK applicants are eligible to apply otherwise how could the non-UK applicants be given preference? My advisor has emailed the head of the school (who made this decision about only giving the funding to international students) and he has come back saying that he is sticking with this decision.

I am incredibly upset and frustrated. I meet all the eligibility criteria that were listed and more. They have not made it clear that UK applicants were not even eligible to apply on the form. There is no policy against these awards being given to UK applicants at a university level. I feel like I've just hit a brick wall but I'm not prepared to give up on this. This is an area that I really want to work in. There are no other PhDs in this area (not that I could apply for others anyway because all the deadlines have passed). It seems wrong that they won't even consider my application even though I may actually be more qualified that some of the other applicants (my MSc project is in the same area).

I think they should at least consider my application when they have given no indication that I am not eligible to apply. AIBU? What should I do next ?

Thanks for reading.

LaurieFairyCake Wed 19-Feb-14 08:34:17


They are perfectly entitled to change their criteria as they go along.

Sucks for you though. What will you do now?

legalhelpplease Wed 19-Feb-14 08:38:09

Laurie, yes, they are perfectly entitled to change their criteria but they need to make it clear that they have done so. There is no indication anywhere that I am not eligible to apply.

I'm not giving up. I am speaking to other people about it today.

LaurieFairyCake Wed 19-Feb-14 08:42:13

Do you have funding in place?

legalhelpplease Wed 19-Feb-14 08:43:56

No, the funding is attached to the PhD.

poopadoop Wed 19-Feb-14 08:45:39

Don't give up, but be aware you may not be the best candidate even if your MSc is in the same area, that would be only one of the (academic) criteria. I mean the following in a supportive way - I'd also be cautious about how you approach and phrase your enquiries - others may not be overly keen to work with you if you act too entitled as it might suggest you'd be a difficult supervisee, don't forget a PhD project can be about relationships as well as research.

LaurieFairyCake Wed 19-Feb-14 08:47:08

Then there's no money for home students to do the PhD - the finding is coming from the international community solely for foreign students. They've likely changed the criteria as they've no funding at all for home students.

You can't make them give you money grin

My friends doing a PhD - no funding, she's paying £20k for it over 4 years. Is self funding an option for you on this?

legalhelpplease Wed 19-Feb-14 08:59:37

Thanks poopadoop. I know that other, better candidates could come along. I just want to be interviewed with everyone else. It really bothers me that they won't even consider me simply because I'm in the UK. The minimum requirement was a 2:1 degree. I have more than that including an MSc in the relevant area and my project is in the same area. There will be some people applying with just a 2:1 degree who will be interviewed and I won't.

KayleeFrye Wed 19-Feb-14 09:00:39

Surely if you don't qualify for this award it must be because you do qualify for other funding sources. If I have correctly understood from your post that the criteria express preference for international students because they are ineligible for other kinds of funding, it therefore follows that these other sources were open to you. If you haven't managed to be one of the lucky ones with those other sources, I'm afraid YABU to then try to elbow your way in through this other route which is primarily for people who haven't had any other chances.

The informal concept behind those "preference will be given" official words will be something along the lines of "this is for international students, however in the unlikely event that we have no international applicants we reserve the right to give the funding to an appropriate UK applicant if the only alternative would be for no-one to have the money". Therefore, if there are international applicants of a suitable calibre, then you do not qualify.

The University is obliged to fill the very limited places they have with the keenest cleverest minds available, plus give due regard to widenning participation and diversity, and they will always have many more applicants than places. There are always people who are disappointed, YABU and entitled to think you can get around this, sorry.

legalhelpplease Wed 19-Feb-14 09:02:16

" Then there's no money for home students to do the PhD - the finding is coming from the international community solely for foreign students."

Laurie, the funding comes from the university and, as I said in my original post, they can give it to UK students, it is just this particular school who have decided to ONLY give it to international students without making it clear to other people in the dept or to the people applying that this is what they are doing.

legalhelpplease Wed 19-Feb-14 09:05:11

Kaylee, technically, I am eligible for this award (there is nothing that states it can't be given to a UK applicant). I am also eligible for the awards that are only available to home students. The problem is that the funding is attached to the PhD and this particular funding is one that international students are eligible for.

legalhelpplease Wed 19-Feb-14 09:07:00

"The University is obliged to fill the very limited places they have with the keenest cleverest minds available"

But they aren't doing that if they're refusing to interview all the candidates because some of them are from the UK.

LaurieFairyCake Wed 19-Feb-14 09:17:19

Why do you think they only want international students ?

Because I'm going to guess that actually the department made deals over the funding and stated it would only be for international students - I've previously worked in a department that did this.

legalhelpplease Wed 19-Feb-14 09:23:58

The funding comes from the university and the university has no policy about it not being given to UK students. If the school wants to implement its own policy making it only available to international students then they should make it clear that UK applicants are not eligible to apply. If they want the best candidate for the position then it should be open to everyone. If an international student is the best candidate then fine but they are eliminating candidates that could potentially be better suited to the position simply because they are from the UK.

LaurieFairyCake Wed 19-Feb-14 09:30:33

Why do you think their position is different from yours?

Why do they only want international students?

JabberJabberJay Wed 19-Feb-14 09:37:38

It sucks.

But funding for PhDs is ridiculously competitive. And I say this as someone who was able to secure full funding for a PhD 10 years ago. I highly doubt I would be successful if I applied with the same credentials now.

Is there anywhere else you can try? One of the funding bodies? I had university funding for my first year but it was a condition of my funding that I had to reapply to the main funding body annually-I suppose to free up as much uni funding as possible. Anyway, I was successful on my second try and the rest of my PhD was funded by a research council.

legalhelpplease Wed 19-Feb-14 09:39:46

The university policy of giving international students preference for these awards is trying to encourage more international students. I doubt if the policy is there to eliminate candidates based on where they are living. (I am not a UK-national but they consider me a UK applicant because I am living in the UK)

legalhelpplease Wed 19-Feb-14 09:45:10

Hi Jabber. The problem is that they have attached the funding to the PhD. So if they say that UK applicants are not eligible for this funding (which they haven't stated anywhere) then they are basically saying that only international applicants can apply for this PhD. A bit limiting for them too! I think it's a very poor system.

NoodleOodle Wed 19-Feb-14 09:53:11


falulahthecat Wed 19-Feb-14 10:05:27

I don't know the details but Unis have this thing now where they get 'bonuses' in their funding for having people from different nationalities, it's why at the uni where my DP works there's an Iranian woman on a funded PhD who has wildly less experience than many other people already at the uni that would've been perfect for it.
Very sweet lady though.
To be honest with you, even if your application was considered there's a good chance you wouldn't have got it - funded PhD's are like glod dust at the moment, you have no idea who else applied and I would guess the number of applicants is high.

I'm just being realistic because both DP and I are in the same situation, he got turned down for a non-funded PhD because it had been 'created' for someone, they were only interviewing as a formality for Human resources (a waste of money in my opinion).

Don't let this get to you so much, in all likelihood it'll happen again and you mustn't take it personally.

Good luck with your future searches!

legalhelpplease Wed 19-Feb-14 10:11:05

"To be honest with you, even if your application was considered there's a good chance you wouldn't have got it"

Oh, I know falula (great name smile ) I'd just like to be considered alongside everyone else based on my qualifications/ability to do the job rather than where I happen to be living.

poopadoop Wed 19-Feb-14 12:55:43

OP, I understand your disappointment, and wonder if you'd feel better if they'd intervieweded you and then gave it to someone, the decision weighted towards the fact that they are non-UK?
Might it be the case that fees are higher for non-UK students, and as such it would make more of a difference to a non-UK applicant?
Do you want to ask for an interview 'for the experience' anyway? Would the panel be willing to do that?

poopadoop Wed 19-Feb-14 12:56:02

interviewed not interviewded!

BackforGood Wed 19-Feb-14 13:08:19

What Kaylee said. They really only have funding for international students, and the "preference" bit is just there to say if we get no suitable applicants whatsoever then we may have to start scratching around to find a way of funding someone from the UK. Obviously, they have received some suitable applications, so then it is perfectly within their rights to just look at those.
It's disappointing for you, but surely not difficult to understand?

JanineStHubbins Wed 19-Feb-14 13:15:04

There's much more funding opportunities available for home students than international ones - Research Councils for a start, which don't award full fees + maintenance to EU or international students. It's quite understandable that a dept would wish to earmark a full studentship for highly qualified applicants who aren't eligible for a full award elsewhere.

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