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This Category: > PhD Advice / Support


No longer interested in the prospective supervisor

User: Sangi - 23 February 2021 10:15

The PhD admissions committee wants to schedule a formal interview but i am no more interested in the prospective supervisor. I mentioned him in my SoP and he also showed interest initially when I submitted my application. I was even called for an informal interview by the professor (the prospective Supervisor) but later while applying for the funding he suddenly turned cold and indifferent despite his initial interest in my project. Applying for funding needed professor’s support and he was not supportive at all which is why I was not able to apply for funding. I understand he probably didn't find me as impressive or brilliant in the interview as he might have imagined but this doesn't explain his ignoring me. He could have simply said that and I wouldn't have hoped for his support anyway.

Now after almost 3 weeks of the initial interview (and losing an opportunity of funding), the admission’s committee has emailed me again for another interview. I don’t see why because the professor is clearly not interested. I'm so confused and in complete dilemma. Although I have applied to a few other universities, decisions are due in mid-March only. Tbh, I really don't want to work with this professor any more (though i know the decision is yet to be made) and there is no other person there who can be my supervisor. Will I be wasting time in interview if I already know the supervisor is not willing to support my project now? Or, will it be a mistake to avoid the interview? Do supervisors play any role (positive or negative) in getting admission in the UK universities? Any advise/information that can help me decide is appreciated. My discipline is social science and i am an international applicant if that helps. Thank you very much.

User: rewt - 23 February 2021 10:38

Not to sound obvious but are you sure the supervisor has lost interest or is he just busy? You are still a prospective student without funding and professors are usually very busy people. It is probably not a good sign that they turned cold so suddenly but he may simply have something more pressing and will come back to you. Though as rough rule, the more prestigious/senior the supervisor the less time they will have to supervise you. If you feel you want more support/contact time, going for a younger academic might be better, but they will have less money and experience. I know some students who see their professor supervisor once a month and have a younger second supervisor who they can talk with more frequently to balance it out.

I would still do the interview, just for the practice. There is no shame in doing the interview and turning them down if you get it. As the practice could help you land other PhD places.

User: abababa - 24 February 2021 21:14

Rewt is very right.

As an academic, I am routinely surprised (though I should not be) at students or prospective students reading so much into me forgetting to answer an email.

It's understandable - to a student the relationship with a supervisor is the primary, and often more or less sole, validation they have of weeks or months of effort. But to a supervisor, it's one email among 30-50 a day.

You have to understand, the prospective supervisor sees this thing as a few emails they may forget. It doesn't help if any requests you include work-heavy tasks, as irrespective of enthusiasm, something that will take hours of work to meaningfully respond to (if it's not a 'no') often goes down the pile below 'I can quickly answer that' requests, and may take a while to re-surface.

You may have misinterpreted 'support' in applying for funding here. Personally, I will 'support' an applicant with a robust proposal after reading it by signing a form stating I think it's a good proposal. I won't (can't) help them write it in most circumstances if they're asking me to feedback on drafts, meet, and discuss, because then this would have to be done for every applicant, which is unmanageable.

They probably barely remember their interactions with you. You generally lose nothing by applying, as you can always walk away from an offer.

User: rewt - 25 February 2021 13:50

abababa, that was very well explained. I love it when you can add a detailed perspective from the supervisors side.

User: Sangi - 26 February 2021 06:26

Thanks Rewt! and sorry for responding late. I'm not very sure and I can't prove but the way he has been so silent lately has unfortunately led me to believe that perhaps he has lost interest after the first interview. However, it is a good idea to give it a shot. Thanks so much.

User: Sangi - 26 February 2021 06:27

Thank you Abababa for putting a Supervisor’s perspective which was really helpful. I hope to attend the interview and see what happens. Thanks again.

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