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5:09pm on Friday, 19th February, 2016:



Today, we had the shortlisting event that decided which of the students who had applied to the IGGI Doctoral Training Centre for next year's intake would make it to the final interview stage. These are always fraught affairs, because we have more candidates we want to interview than we can interview, and fewer studentships to award than we want to award. This time round, to balance up intakes from previous years that have gone in our favour, Essex and Goldsmiths each have 6 shortlisted candidates and York has 9. This will probably see Goldsmiths and Essex getting maybe 3 students each, and York maybe 5, but of course it all depends on how well the students do at the interviews.

The exercise is further complicated by the fact there are three categories of students: home students (which includes EU students who have lived in the UK for the past 3 years); EU students (who haven't lived in the UK for the past 3 years); international students (regardless of how long they've lived in the UK). We're allowed at most one international student per year across the whole consortium, so even though we have some exceptionally strong applicants who are definite PhD quality, we have to turn most of them away. It's extremely frustrating to do this, but it's a consequence of the way the funding works. For the non-home EU students, there's a limit of something like one in three; again, it's something that means good students have to be turned away, although fortunately it didn't affect Essex this time round as all our EU applicants qualified for home student status.

So it is that every student going forward to the final, panel interviews is someone we want, but so are some of the people who through no fault of their own will be receiving disappointing emails on Monday. Worse, around half the students who do make it through will not be getting places, even though they know they're good enough.

It was so much easier in my day, when the person invited to receive the PhD grant was decided by grandees behind closed doors...

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Copyright © 2016 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).