Tuesday, October 11, 2005

about funding

It's hard to become an academic in the UK. There are plenty of excellent postgraduate courses around. But for arts and humanities subjects, the question is not whether one has been accepted onto a course but whether one can get funding. The Arts and Humanities Research Council can fund only a quarter of the applications it receives. So for me, and for many of my friends, progression to the next stage of an academic career depends not upon ability but upon money.
Of course one could argue that the AHRC provide a filter for ability. However experience has shown me just how random the allocation can be. Students with firsts are turned down; others with 2.1s receive money.
I admit that my perspective on this is tinged with the bitterness of rejection. And I'm lucky because I've been able to get money together for my MPhil this year. But my dream of continuing to work at Cambridge for my PhD next year seems very distant when the pot of money is so limited.
In the USA, a place at graduate school is usually fully funded. So I've put in applications to some American colleges. The programmes are excellent there, but I admit that I would not have considered applying overseas were it not for the fact that I may find myself in the position of being unable to pay for a PhD in the UK.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Tomorrow the English Faculty holds its induction for new graduate students. So life as a grad. student will get under way. Thursday even promises actual classes!
In the midst of all this newness, it was refreshing to meet up with two friends today. I'd not seen either since before graduation. In their company, I began to feel more like me. It's odd really: self definition relies so much on other people. Alone, it's easy to lose grasp of what 'me-ness' essentially is.
In Borders, sitting once again with a Starbucks mug in my hand, laughing at an anecdote, the months since July began to dissolve away and I *belonged* again here.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Out of hibernation

Exams took over... then plans for graduation... then I was at home and not using this computer. So my blog has been static for over 4 months.
But I'm back in Cam now, so there's no more excuse for silence. This week I'll start my MPhil in medieval lit. I suppose that makes me a grown up graduate student. Hmmm.