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5:22pm on Monday, 9th February, 2015:
I spent several hours today interviewing prospective PhD students for our IGGI programme.
This year there were over 60 applicants to IGGI, roughly a quarter each to Essex, Goldsmiths and York with the rest not specifying an institution. Some were easy to reject because they were clearly just chancing their arm and had project proposals that were unacquainted with the words "intelligence" or "games". Others were less easy to reject because they were strong proposals but the students didn't meet the requirements for funding (basically, across all three institutions we get to recruit at most one non-EU student a year, but it means our administrators have to work some magic which doesn't always come off).
This left us with something like a dozen prospective students to whittle down to a shortlist of 6-8 (as in we were told 6 but we'll probably end up with 8). These students will be interviewed again in York at the end of next week, by panels with one person from each institution on them. This is to make sure it's objective (we can't "promise" favoured applicants they'll get a place), balanced (so we don't get too many people on either the Intelligent Games or Games Intelligence side of IGGI) and there's variety (so we don't have people all doing the same thing). As an analogy, the interviews today were like football trials to find out whom we'd like to sign to our squad. However, the interviews next week will decide who makes the team. Sometimes, the strongest player doesn't get selected because it's the team that's important, not the individual stars. This is especially the case when you have a squad full of individual stars...
Anyone who makes it to York will be, in our view, someone who is definitely PhD material whom we'd like to have. However, we're only going to get 3 of them. This means that 3-5 of the applicants who made the shortlist won't be accepted, even though they're good enough and capable enough and we'd like to have them. So it goes.
I am dreading having to tell people who are clearly PhD material that we can't take them. Sigh...
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