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Doing a partly-funded PhD whilst living 200 miles away?

(6 Posts)
NestaVipers Mon 30-May-11 13:22:46

In Feb I applied to a few universities for PhD funding. My first choice was my alma mater, one of only two local universities. A few weeks ago I was informed that I made it onto the reserve list, but that I was unlikely to receive financial support.
I also applied to a several unis that were much further away (200 miles) as there was, at that time, a chance that DP may get a job in the vicinity. He didn't. Fast-forward 6 months, and I have been offered at a partial studentship of £7,000 pa plus fees at one of the unis 200 miles from home, Durham.
Due to the late nature of the offer, the distance from home, the relatively small amount of money involved and family commitments, moving to Durham is just not an option at this point. Given the 'hens teeth' nature of funding atm, I really want to take the offer and just travel there when necessary e.g. enrollment, meetings with supervisor, key seminars. I raised this possibility with a member of staff and was told that "all research students are expected to take an active role in research culture" so they prefer you to be local.
Does anyone have any experience of doing a funded PhD remotely? Is your university supportive of the arrangement? If I accept the offer, perform well and attend all meetings etc is there likely to be any comeback with regard to my living so far away?

2plus1 Mon 30-May-11 22:05:36

I am a part-time PhD student and live remotely from my uni. The uni is in cambridge and I am located at Bath so a four hour-ish drive. I have had no problems in doing this, attending for study days, annual conference and confirmation presentation/interview as required. My tutorials are conducted via skype and my annual monitoring reviews via the same method. All of my work has been sent via email or if the files are too big, an internet based sharing media such as dropbox. My research was lab based and I managed to go back for a week or a weekend here and there to conduct the experiments as I needed to, this was off campus anyway. Obviously, a PhD without lab requirements would be easier to accomplish from home. The libraries these days have excellent on-line access to articles or alternatively the british library offer electronic access.
I would add though that I am self-funded for course fees but have had funding for lab costs, but I cannot see this would have made much difference. My uni have been supportive of my remote location. As to whether I have done all I need to qualify remains to be seen as I am awaiting viva date following submission in april.

Acinonyx Mon 06-Jun-11 19:26:47

A good friend of mine did his PhD remotely (PhD was at Birmingham) and it went fine. I did mine locally but hardly ever went in (however, they have strict local residency requirements). I enquired about doing it remotely somewhere else but that particular supervisor said he had tried that and it hadn't worked out so he wasn't inclined to supervise remotely again.

Have you discussed this with your potential supervisor? I think you should make your position clear from the outset as some supervisors would not be at all happy about this. I am now trying to get a postdoc remotely hmm it just never ends ....

dotty2 Mon 06-Jun-11 19:53:22

My university is a couple of hours away door to door (though not actually all that far away). That's obviously much more do-able than your potential arrangement. But I have to say I do feel like I've missed out on some of the PhD experience by not being around for early evening seminars (lots of optional stuff seems to start at 5, and I stay occasionally but not often) and not being around to hang out and chat in the tea room. When I'm in, it's very heads down, get on with it - so doable, but a bit of a missed opportunity in some ways. As others have said, you need to talk to your potential supervisor and see what 'actively contributing to the research culture' really means. It could mean leading a seminar every term, which would be fine, or some bigger commitment that wouldn't be. Hope it works out for you.

NestaVipers Tue 14-Jun-11 13:56:21

Thanks for all of your replies. I've been moving house over the last few weeks (which is part of the problem!) so internet access has been sporadic. I've been in contact with my potential supervisor and am currently waiting for a response. I'm very torn about the whole thing as any kind of funding is such a coup within the humanities, but I can't justify moving my family 200 miles for such a relatively small sum.

Good luck with the viva 2plus1

LRDTheFeministNutcase Thu 30-Jun-11 22:47:11

It'll be fine ... I'm over 200 miles away and it's no trouble (at the end of my second year now).

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