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Laura - the meaning of the PhD
Name: Laura
PhD discipline: History
Area(s) of work: Youth worker; university teaching
Year of graduation: 2003
Date of Interview: 01/07/2008

Now Playing: Laura - the meaning of the PhD
Laura talks about the bearing that different means of funding a PhD can be perceived to have on the final product. She describes the value of PhD researchers, beyond the financial value they bring to the university.

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I don't know how to say it but I think there's something about the status within and between PhD students. Because of changes to funding, people are getting money from lots of different ways. We've got two collaborative PhD awards based half here and half at the Imperial War Museum. And both of them are doing really good stuff. Then there are other people who are working part-time or teaching part-time and studying part-time. I think that there was a sense when I started doing my PhD that I was another one of those women with kids, part-time maybe, I know the way I described why I did it sounds pragmatic and life stylish, but that doesn't mean I wasn't rigorously engaged with the academic pursuit, and I think we need to be much more careful about how we think about the status that we bestow upon our PhD students. PhD students need to be clear for themselves that they are not just the value of the funding that they bring into university. There is no significant difference in the quality of the PhD produced by someone not funded or fully funded by the AHRC. They might – they probably don't – get a bit more sleep. They've probably got more income than our Associate Tutors do and that's great for their CV that they're showing that their project was worthy of funding, I'm not knocking that at all. But there is no significant difference in the quality of the PhD whether its paid for by a loan you take, a career development loan, or money that you've borrowed from your family or money that you're scraping together or money that comes from a government body. There is no difference in the quality of it and I think that quite slowly we're starting to realise that. There's a tension between the fact that the University needs and should be encouraged to seek funding and grants for its students and its research, but that doesn't mean that we should be thinking that things that are externally funded by granting bodies are somehow better in any way. I feel quite strongly about that.

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