Thursday, January 17, 2008

It's tough enough...

.. for a UK student just to get funding to do a PhD in the arts and humanities from the AHRC. Those luck people who get an award are usually grateful and rightly so -- this is public money funding what many see as indulgent higher higher education. But for a University Faculty these awards come at a high price: the AHRC's regulations which penalise departments if a certain proportion their students on these scholarships do not submit in time are hard to understand. Worse, they penalise in particular students in subsequent years who want to come and study by 'blacklisting' departments. (You can read their Submission Rate Policy here [Word document] or go here.) Simon Blackburn has a sensible discussion of a not-so-sensible policy here in the THE (no S any more). The problem really bites when the AHRC is not sensitive to there being reasons for late submission besides indolence or some other academic vice. Students have in any case plenty of reason for trying as hard as possible to submit their theses on time. Usually, this is because their funding runs out and they won't earn much else unless they have a doctorate. And if they have got themselves an academic job, it seems to me that this just goes to show that a promising young academic has been properly and profitably funded.

No one thinks it is reasonable to throw public money at graduate students who never finish and never make any further use of the time and investment expended on them. But if there is a stick to be applied then it's important to aim it properly.

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