Self-funded PhD students can feel “less worthy” than their peers who receive studentships, experiences outlined in a new blog suggest.
Posts published on Brains, Time, Money: Part-Time and Self-Funded Postgraduate Study, which was expected to launch on 2 May, discuss “socio- academic” embarrassment, feeling the need to hide funding status and dealing with the financial and time pressures of part-time study.
In one of the first two posts, Nazia Hussein, a PhD student at the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender at the University of Warwick, writes that other students are sometimes “quite taken aback with my self-funded, part-time status”.
“To some it indicates that my research is not worth funding by any relevant organisation and institute, while to others, my work appears less important than theirs,” she says.
Meanwhile, Andrea Nevitt, a part-time PhD student at Keele University, says that admitting to working full-time to afford the PhD “feels confessional, [like] admitting I’m not really ‘good enough’”.
Nadine Muller, the blog’s curator, said the assumption that only those who were “good enough” secured funding was obviously untrue, given that getting funding was as much about fitting in with funder or departmental priorities as it was about quality.
“A lot of self-funded students still seem to worry about whether or not they’ll be worth less in the job market, despite being told by senior academics that to an interview panel it really doesn’t matter how you funded your PhD,” she added.
But the posts also highlight some huge benefits of being self-funded, including students becoming more “resourceful and creative”, being free to progress at their own pace and having an increased “sense of ownership” over their thesis, Dr Muller said.