Questions & Answers


Well, it depends ..
Of course there are always turf wars between institutions, faculties (within them in fact) and between countries. Completing a qualification overseas does not necessarily qualify a student to remain in that country or obtain a working visa during or after the study period, so if the intention is to remain and get a job in the UK, do not assume you will be successful just because you have a UK qualification – so do lots of people.

And of course, the UK’s education system differs, but it does not seem doing a doctorate in recognised disciplines such as Anthropology and Archaeology would exclude or prevent a student from working overseas. Some thematic, multi disciplinary qualifications might - considered to be ‘fundraisers’ by the more cynical staff, your choice of post grad study might limit you in the future if it not understood or recognised by employers or institutions in other countries (or indeed, the UK). What does the course mean exactly? What have you studied and how? Where? Why? Some courses gain possibly ill-deserved reputations for being ‘easy’. You can pursue, however, exactly the same line of enquiry within a recognised discipline such as Anthropology, although this also carries expectations that you might not want or be able to meet.

Why do you want to do Post Grad study for? Promotion, change of career, or personal interest? Or status? To knock some of the rougher edges off you? Because your father (nearly always father given Oxford’s history) went to Oxford and that is what people in your family do? Are you interested in doing a Post Grad qualification, or spending a year or so at Oxford as part of your education to smooth some of your rougher edges? Because you can’t get a job and can’t think what else to do? Because you are afraid of leaving the safe, predictable confines of education for the ruthless world of work?

Is it to make you more marriageable? Until recently, knowledge of the arts, languages, playing an instrument – these were ‘symptoms’ of the bourgeoisie. Small wonder the Soviets successfully brought the arts to the masses in an attempt to eliminate the ‘symptoms’ of class distinctions and inequalities. A young lady learnt an instrument, sung prettily, embroidered and spoke French, painted charming watercolours to demonstrate she was ‘accomplished’ and thus a suitable wife. No one wanted a dumb wife, unless she was very rich, in which case, (nearly) anyone would have her. A ‘gentleman’ besides never knowing how much money he had, might broaden his horizons and complete his ‘education’ with a long overseas trip that would include Italy and France, as much as Italian and French brothels – an older mistress perhaps, who would knock off his rough edges before he returned home to manage the family’s affairs and estate. The First World War largely put paid to all these sorts of lifestyles as huge numbers of men died – arguably wiping out whole sub sections of certain classes. In the UK, women entered the work force as never before and never looked back – this is stuff of history books. But looking at the enormous gender divisions in universities – the oversubscription of certain disciplines, you might want to consider if you are pursuing a line of study that makes you more interesting, might enrich your life – but does not increase your employability? Will your investment – time and money- pay off? Anthropology has the potential to offer more – overseas experience, glamour, adventure, languages, ‘expertise’ in a region or of a peoples, but not necessarily if you spent a year intellectualising women’s ‘space’ and ‘experience’ on trains on the East Coast. You might be able to sell the data to a rail company as a one off; you might write an amusing, best-selling book. But you might also be headed for a poorly paid, part time job. It is ultimately your responsibility to consider your employment outcomes.

Will or can your current employment complement your research, be included as a part of your research, or are you working to fund your research only?  This will influence your approach. Will you find yourself overqualified, overeducated and under skilled? Unemployed or unemployable?

How will doing a Doctorate fit into your life game plan? Will it act as a catalyst to promotion or a new career, or will it be the objective in itself? Many people never finish Doctorates because they see being able to say they are doing a Doctorate is a preferable status, i.e. the journey is more important than the destination. The dropout rate is enormous – life can get in the way and the pressures of managing work, family and personal life in addition to research should not be underestimated, especially if you are the sort of person who does not manage pressure and stress easily. Some people thrive on deadlines and tight timetables – consider if your time management skills allow you to undertake a doctorate.

If you don't know what you want 'to do with' your doctorate, then perhaps keeping your options open is the best policy. More pertinent is ‘what am I doing a doctorate for?’ Constantly topping up to stay ahead of the game is what we now have to do throughout our working lives, unfortunately, be it in the form of Continuing Professional Development, an organisation’s ‘staff development’ programme, or simply acquiring another skill such as a language or computer package.

If it is a harsh reality that education has become a commodity, then there will be competition between institutions and countries. The Oxbridge DPhil differs because the UK education system differs historically to the US in rationale, delivery and end usage.

You might want to consider registering for an MPhil firstly, and IF you want to, or are permitted to continue onto a DPhil, then transfer status. This will not prevent you continuing elsewhere. Oxford has what is called a probationary research student (PRS) period, which requires you to do a proposal pretty much the same length and depth as an MPhil, but if you don't succeed (and again, all this means is that you can't do it at Oxford), then you have no qualification to show for your time, money and energy. With an MPhil, you can transfer the status and use the material as a foundation. 

It is a dilemma. For example, I always attended the Russian and East European Studies programmes (renamed from Sovietology) , as I lived for years in Hungary and Romania, but at the time of my fieldwork the Cold War had not yet thawed and for the most part, the disciplines that focused on these countries still directed their energies on defence and economics. Two years of Chinese Studies within Anthropology was also significant – not because I went on to study China or Chinese, but because comparatives between the different ‘Cold War’ powers and their economic reform processes was useful and besides, at the time, no one had actually lived in the former Soviet Bloc in the manner Anthropology required. Citizens of countries such as Hungary (Warsaw Pact, but not ‘Soviet’) needed permits to even travel to border areas – one or two academics seemed to have successfully acquired permission, but these were exceptions, not rules. To competently master Mandarin of sufficient standard to conduct fieldwork would have taken several more years than I would have liked, so I decided to use the languages, connections and information I already had.  Likewise, I did not have sufficient Arabic to conduct my own research in the Near East where I had also lived and worked, nor as a woman would I have been permitted to conduct fieldwork without being accompanied by an entourage of male interpreter, female chaperon etc. I tended to think at the time, and was right, that 'doing Gypsies' would be better within an Anthropology framework as it is most easily understood by academics and non academics within this discipline. My work has a strong political/historical element, but I am not labelled with a 'history' qualification, or some such that would not be understood outside the university circuit or civil service, since I too dip in and out of academia, but would not consider myself an academic as such and would not be considered an academic by ‘career’ academics. Having said that, how many people realise Captain TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) was a History man and a Fellow of All Souls? A focus of his work was Crusader castles in Syria. His skills, experience and expertise – languages, culture, politics, straddled so many disciplines – any would have been proud to have owned him and made him infinitely employable. Some people can turn any situation to their advantage and make the best of what they have got – are you one of them, or do you need to tread a well-worn and easily recognisable path?

Are you a ‘doer’? In which case, you might want  'more' than teaching in a university as an end objective, since universities are full of 'thinkers', which is fine, but can be frustrating for those who prefer life outside a library and lives in their heads.   

Doctorates are very much individual and personal exercises and never more so then when they are doctorates that require prolonged periods of anthropological and archaeological fieldwork research.

Before approaching a potential Supervisor, you should consider the following:

Why, and why not, do a doctorate in another country or just anywhere? Your modus operandi should be ‘buyers beware’. Increasingly aware of the legal implications of offering ‘advice’, HE staff are increasingly advised not to  advise, but provide ‘options,’ ‘openings’ and ‘opportunities’ etc. thus placing the burden of responsibility, choice or error on the student. ‘Advice’ is a legal minefield in today’s (possibly maliciously) litigious society. ‘Enquirers’ are assisted and supported in their decision making. Students have become a category of target audience for the marketing departments of all education providers. They are perceived as a category of customer buying a product (courses/qualifications) and buying into a brand/lifestyle with the hope of a return for their investment (a job or ‘label’ that will fund their desired lifestyle and contribute to who they want to ‘be’ and ‘be thought of’, as much as what the want or have to do). All institutions, including HEIs, brand themselves according to this philosophy. Some are Gucci, some are Primark. Some do not need to advertise and define merely the criteria they look for (what the student needs to ‘be/do’ get in); others advertise internationally, some nationally, some locally and ‘sell’ their ‘product’ and ‘brand’ to recruit/sell to, rather than require the potential student to promote themselves. They reach their market via all mediums, and are increasingly aware of their competitors (sixth form colleges, FE colleges, other universities and universities in other countries). The advertising and promotion strategies depend on what market share the university or institution can provide for, or identify a gap in the market. A quick trawl of the advertised vacancies at HEIs reveals an increased focus on positions in marketing and communications designed for this purpose.

Oxford does not need to advertise. If is easy to get into a particular university, why? Do you want to find yourself at a university that has a poor reputation? That accepts anyone? Amongst students with limited English (by no means an overseas student issue) and who will drag you down, not pull you up intellectually?

Why shouldn’t it be? If you don’t ask, you don’t get. If you want to go to Oxford, YOU have to demonstrate you are ready, willing and able to last the course literally and metaphorically. If you do not have immediate access to the funds and getting in debt is not something you relish, then save up. For Arch & Ant, you will only benefit from being older and wiser and more experienced. You may have to fund yourself for the first year until you have a proven track record and you have access to funding bodies and crucially referees of sufficient caliber willing to support you.  If you want to study at Oxford, but are afraid you might be out of your depth, get in touch with us – we will try to provide an unvarnished truth.

At one time, not so long ago when most people in the UK left school at 14 (until 1967, when the school leaving age was raised to 16) years of age, Oxford was a social elite that ergo, was an intellectual elite. In many countries today, being able to read and write still makes you an ‘intellectual.’ There is nothing wrong with elitism, provided it is based on qualities and qualifications, not who your father is, or how much he earns. Let us ensure that these days, studying at Oxford is, as far as possible, based on merit.

If a university seems to operate a slick commercial and ‘corporate’ style operation, unless it is a business school, why does it have to? 

Anthropology, Archaeology, Sociology, Psychology, Economics? Which to choose? Are the questions and approaches of Anthropology the ones you know you can commit to? Anthropology and Archaeology provide the opportunity for all different kinds of engagement across communities, and if this is important to you, these might be your disciplines. But are you a people person? Do you like, let alone mind, travelling and being amongst people who at best might ignore you, at worst actively dislike you? How do you feel about spending long periods in cheap accommodation? Will you like the ‘peoples’ you are studying and living amongst, and more importantly – will they like you? One of my students – a Jamaican who came to London to pursue her tertiary education, conducted her diploma dissertation work on Rastafarians. Her intention was to carry out a ‘pilot’ research that could contribute to her application to study for a Masters, before returning to Jamaica to conduct more in depth work. She said she had always been fascinated by Rastafarians in Jamaica and wanted to learn more about them. A few months down the line, she was less fascinated by the group she focused on, who lived in Hackney, East London. Of course, every religion, race, language creed can be found in London – not always following the formulas found in other parts of the world. This seemed to be the case with the Rastafarians – although she was impressed by what seemed a genuine attempt by some to be entirely self-sufficient, as is the case apparently in Jamaica where many Rastafarians live as recluse in caves, she was less impressed with the Hackney Rastafarians, nor to find ‘white people’ (her words) amongst them.  As a Seventh Day Adventist, she said she struggled with what she experienced to be the sexism of the men, and submission of the women, as well as the restricted diet and limitations on daily life and interaction with other, non-Rastafarians.

 In short, it seemed she did not like them, and presumably they did not like her.

Phew! A result – and a real result. She chose not to pursue her interest via Anthropology. This seemed brave and suggested a real emotional intelligence and maturity for someone under 30. She seemed confident enough to pursue her interest and studies within another discipline. A confidence and self awareness not shared by all students, or students of Anthropology.

Others do not fare so well – another, a fifty something mixed race, British African Caribbean who conducted research in a hair and beauty salon that specialises in black and African styling, seemed to struggle forming relationships with other students – while her written work was extremely interesting and her research thorough, given her own lack of self care and apparent disinterest in her appearance, it was a puzzle why she would want to focus on the black hair industry through the lens of Anthropology and spend her time in a beauticians. It seemed from her accounts of their interaction, that the customers and staff were also curious and that they let their curiosity get the better of them. I did wonder what was going on with her – certainly the staff of the beauticians were not reticent about asking for an explanation beyond the one she gave for her presence and interest in them, i.e. ‘research’. In this situation, it would surely have been better to have worked, paid or unpaid, in the salon – sweeping up, running errands – or undertake treatment and styling: roles staff and customers alike could recognise and be comfortable with. Her ‘participant observation and experience’ not understood or appreciated, she was booted out, but seemed non plussed about this. Who knows what the story was? Certainly her written work was of a standard and quality that could have justified an appeal for funding, academic or for example, from one of the companies that specialises in products for black women if she had wanted to go down this channel. It seemed she did not, and I never heard from her again.  

Immersion into a society fundamentally different from your own carries many perils. What if the student does not consider the implications of being rejected by their chosen ‘peoples’? A more fragile personality might crumble – more than one student has returned from the field damaged by the experience. Someone emotionally vulnerable before fieldwork might find the the isolation and loneliness long periods of fieldwork in a culture and country fundamentally different from their own can trigger mental illness and a psychosis, especially if accompanied by physical illness and medication for malaria etc.    Typical was a student who abandoned her studies, but seemed to have difficulties with their identity before travelling to their chosen field site – a remote island off the coast of Scotland known for its early Christian communities, but also a favoured summer tourist destination. A convert from Buddhism to Evangelical Christianity, she seemed to change her ascribed nationality and ethnicity according to aim and objective - at least twice before she left for her fieldwork. She found it difficult to accept that others would not accept her at her own estimation – bleak, uninviting and inhospitable once the tourists had gone home and the ‘locals’ reclaimed the island, the conservative and religious islanders did not accept her as Christian, let alone her form of Christianity. Too old (thirty plus), single and childless to engage with the child centric female islanders, and too young to be considered ‘vulnerable’ and in need of protection by the men – nobody seemed to take her under their wing, as she had believed they would (and possibly should). Cold, lonely and miserable – she never completed her research.

Should she have been advised against working under these circumstances and with these sorts of people? Or is her experience not so very different from a holiday romance that has outlived its shelf life and the summer season?  Does a Supervisor have a moral or legal obligation to ‘warn’ students about to embark on a long period of study in the field?  At the time of writing, I am not aware of any student successfully taking legal action against a university or supervisor for ‘allowing’ or ‘encouraging’ fieldwork in a particular area, but then would we ever hear about such a case, given confidentiality clauses are usually attached to court cases involving compensation of some sort? For insurance reasons, universities prevent staff members from conducting research in areas the Foreign Office website advices against travelling to – the list grows daily as legislation fever catches on in the UK.  But what of students? Doctoral candidates are adults – presumed capable of making their own decisions – but what are the decisions made about fieldwork based on? Are there some categories of student, such as those with a physical or mental health diagnosis, who should be discouraged – at least from conducting fieldwork? Or is that infantilising and disempowering, given many doctoral students of anthropology are older than other students?

That depends what you mean ‘go wrong’. Suing universities can be a risky business – many win a battle (and obtain a fees refund, for example), but lose the war – they are not able to continue study at that particular university, have lost time, inspiration and motivation. Many do not successfully complete their doctorate. Any student considering suing a university for ‘encouraging’ them to pursue a particular line of enquiry or research that proved ‘fruitless’ (depending on the definition of fruitless) dangerous or damaging (again, depending what you mean by ..) probably has to prove they are dead or at least dying as a consequence of the decision they were allegedly encouraged to make.

The university offices will provide information regarding an appeal for a decision, but you might want to consider what we have to say. The responsibility, choice or error is on you, the applicant. Feedback about an interview or application might be legitimate and useful. Perhaps you want to reapply or even decide the university is not for you now you know more. While we cannot become involved in individual cases, we are happy to try and offer different ways of thinking about the situation and make some suggestions for alternative paths.

Who will your subject group be? Where? Which geographical location/region? Significantly, what will your status as a member of a particular nation state or religion or ethnicity, colour etc. be? Elevated – you are researching top down? Because you are richer, from a more powerful country? Because you are single (marriageable) and white? Because you are literate and numerate and speak English? Or reduced, because you are a single, white and no-one wanted to marry you because you are, according to their standards, unattractive? How will all of this facilitate or impede your research and your findings? Are you a bit of nuisance because local custom deems guests are wined and dined and you are outstaying your welcome? Will people think your own people have chucked you out because you are a bit thick? Would they be right?

Who can you recruit to act as a Supervisor/Tutor? This person should want to work with you and share your interests, otherwise you will be working on your own – very difficult to write a Doctorate without considerable input and advice from an academic. They don’t have to specialise in your research question, but should have knowledge in the subject area/region etc. you are focusing on.

Most importantly, they need to be genuinely enthusiastic about your research. Perhaps co-supervision would be useful; the advantage of having two different perspectives and backgrounds being that a second supervisor would not necessarily need to share a regional focus, but rather would be most beneficial for a shared theoretical focus. The relationship with the Supervisor can be crucial, and the impact this might have on the fieldwork experience. One contributor to this page said (on condition of being anonymous - for obvious reasons we do not name Supervisors unless they are dead and/or comments are complimentary!) that it was a matter of “policy … to have her for several reasons – otherwise you would/could/should have been my Supervisor. But she did not really help me.” In some instances it seemed politic as much as polite to request a particular staff member, even if they were not required or surplus to requirements, since not asking may prove detrimental to a career.

If you do not necessarily want a conventional career in academia, then perhaps a choice of Supervisor is not so crucial – in which case you had better be pretty independent and self-assured. If you want a career in the university sector, it goes without saying your Supervisor might be a bridge between you and a job. This is as much about expectations of the relationship, as the reality of the constraints controlling communication, time and money.

The critical skills required to evaluate promotional literature, course text books, etc. and make the right (or wrong) choices are not necessarily taught in school or even university because these bodies are not disinterested parties – turkeys do not vote for Christmas. Many academic staff are not paid, and do not have the time or necessarily the inclination, to ‘teach’ or ‘support’ (themselves ambiguous terms) as opposed to lecture/disseminate information and knowledge – university lecturers are still largely employed for their knowledge, experience and expertise, not ‘information’ or skills. YOU need to come to Oxford with these skills – self-sufficient and self-assured, independent and autonomous – or else acquire them pretty quickly if you are to survive the first year.

Pedagogical issues e.g. related to literacy, when preparing, creating and disseminating course material – writing course text books that so many universities now use requires a different process, skill, aims and objectives to literature intended for peers. You will be treated as a peer at Oxford – younger, less experienced perhaps, but you will be expected to read, digest, summarise and critique huge volumes of primary source material on a weekly basis – not always in English. You will read the original Das Kapital, not what someone else said about Marx, for example, in 1972. You will be expected to produce one or two essays a week, not a term (as with many institutions) based on four or five books, articles and chapters and debate the issues with your Tutor. Does this description match your expectations of Oxford University and its academic staff? If not –is Oxford for you? Can you cut the mustard?

If you have paid for a qualification, what happens if you fail modules early or clearly do not have the skills, intellect or previous educational experience to survive? Do you expect and receive a refund? Or can you continually retry? Student expectations are often based on what they know already: school or FE. Many HE organisational, staffing and assessment systems now more resemble schools and colleges than the universities or polytechnics of 30 years ago. A student who is perceived to have ‘succeeded’ in entering university education does not then expect to be told they are not up to scratch, or they are ‘not ready,’ but will be offered transfers and further (paid) study to bring them to the ‘required’ standard (whatever that is, and assuming this is possible). Failing students seems less of an option once a student becomes a ‘customer’ – businesses do not turn away customers, who are, of course, always right.

Oxford is highly selective – failing is a failure for the institution since it means the entry procedures and personnel got it wrong. Before challenging a decision to deny submission or continuing a particular line of study, remember no one at Oxford takes this decision lightly. Perhaps this institution is not for you. Perhaps it is them, not you. This does not mean YOU are a failure.

As an adult, you are not ultimately the university’s responsibility. Attending Oxford if you are offered a place is always your choice and your responsibility before, during and after graduation. If you have begun and paid for a course, do you expect to have to leave the UK if you fail or are deemed ‘not ready’ for study in English in the UK? Will your qualification be recognised or understood elsewhere? You need to make some cold, hard decisions before embarking on any lengthy and expensive research period.

Overseas students increasingly seem to be viewed as cash cows in the UK – the best will be creamed off (hence the accusation that richer countries brain drain the very human resources scholarship and funding is intended to develop). The UK has been cracking down on rogue colleges and educational institutions as much as loopholes in the immigration system allowing overseas students to work unchecked. Many immigration departments struggle with the complex arrangements Arch & Ant doctoral research students require – the extended study period might raise eyebrows. Certainly administration departments have been forced to expand to cope with the demand and increased paperwork.

The university sees requiring a student to complete a Masters with them, despite you possibly already having been awarded one, as a form of quality control, especially if your previous educational history and qualifications were gained overseas in another language. This is not unreasonable. English language exams are notoriously unreliable when it comes to testing and predicting the ability to contribute to sophisticated intellectual debates and compiling long dissertations in the humanities and arts.

This aspect is very detailed and is probably the most difficult to compile. This will take into account your own interests as well as previous info/research, trends, public concern etc. Will you care a few months later, let alone years? Will anyone else? What good will finding the answer (assuming you can and there is one) do you or anyone else? Is your research a springboard for a lifetime interest and passion, or something to be filed away and forgotten after it has served its purpose (whatever that may be)?

Who wants to know? Why? What is your objective, more’s to the point. This might be linked to -

Would someone, the government, public or private sector be willing to pay or contribute to funding your research? Of what use is the information you will collect and to whom? E.g. will you be a part of a big project or are you a lone wolf? Are you working in this area because you can obtain funding because the topic is fashionable, or are you in it for the long term? Stand back and consider why you are pursuing a particular line of enquiry – how useful or fashionable will you and your work be in a few years’ time? If this is a personal quest, no matter, but if you are hoping to earn a living from your research, this matters very much.

Are you a full or part time student? How long do you think the research will take? It is as important to convince the University and Supervisor that you can and will finish the research as that you have the intellectual ability – no-one wants to invest time and energy into a project that will not be completed.

Do you have the intellectual imagination, curiosity and capacity to pursue academia to this level? Do you care enough about finding the answer to your research question? A huge proportion of people who are self-funded never finish their Doctorates. This is not due to a lack of ability, nor because they are not strong enough academically. They run out of time, money and the inclination. Would you be one of them?

Will you find doing the Doctorate so stressful that it will negatively impact other aspects of your life? Completing a Doctorate at Oxford is enormously pressurised and time consuming, and many students place a huge amount of pressure on themselves to complete in a way detrimental to their emotional and physical health. Would you be one of them? If you have a tendency to become overly anxious about producing written material and being critiqued, is such an intense course of study for you?

Do you have the skills to conduct a Doctorate? These are similar to running a project and include time management, evaluation and production of written materials, as well as critical reading and structured thinking. If you are seeking funding, these will include business acumen, be the funders public or private sector. You are self-employed, a sole trader running your own business – the end product being a significant piece of work that contributes to scientific and intellectual enquiry. Research that makes a difference to you, the people you have researched, and the ‘scientific’ and/or scholastic community. Does this sound like you?

Given the range of definitions of ‘employer’, the private as opposed to the public sector, and the clash of interests between employer/employee, unions etc. it is difficult to assess ‘their ‘view.’ There has always been a relationship and a clash of interests between industrialists, landlords and agriculturalists – e.g. employers need food and accommodation prices kept down so they can pay less. As a currency, qualifications are no longer necessarily trusted, understood, or recognised (a reflection sometimes on the institution providing them), and do not seem to have the value (fiscal, practical or intellectual) educational providers suggest. In the private sector, many operate their own schemes and recruitment; HI and E&T mechanisms sometimes resemble Tupperware or Avon. Much training is not recognised or understood outside a particular class/socio economic ‘world’ with many staff and so called ‘graduates’ going on to create their own consultancies because they are not considered qualified to work elsewhere (but perhaps would not want to). Others, such as Oxford, held internationally as a Gold Standard, operate according to national/ international demand and are very profitable and successful brands. He who pays the piper calls the tune and if the State is the main employer it can dictate the criteria of employment. But if, for political or economic reasons (or both) the State as an employer shrinks, loses its reputation and/or ‘brand’ share? What then? Do you have, or have you acquired, the organizational skills, oomph and chutzpah to start your own business or be self-employed? Certainly you will need if not the same, similar skills, enthusiasm, experience and expertise required of a startup – can you be bothered, or is this not what you are coming to Oxford for? If you assume you will be snapped up just because you have a qualification from Oxford you might be in for a rude awakening.

Can you afford not to? Parents complain about the cost of university study. Can their expectations of ‘affordable’ – to whom and for whom – ever be met? Perhaps rather than university education being too expensive (and why wouldn’t it be?), many parents do not earn enough to fulfill their expectations of a lifestyle of a class/socio-economic group that has always paid for other people to rear and educate its children within (nannies, governesses etc.) or away (boarding school and university) from the home. It is only very recently that the concept of a ‘local’ university emerged in the UK. This seems to have developed as the number of universities and courses available, especially part time and on line, exploded. People used to expect and wanted to ‘leave home’ and go to university. Most never returned except for the holidays. Did not expect to, and did not want to. And if a student did not have a ‘permanent’ home to go to, for example they had been in some sort of local authority care or provision, one was provided by the local authority of the university home town.

Universities such as Oxford are now businesses, going concerns that are significant employers. If the employee (e.g. lecturer) lives-in, as the Oxbridge/scholastic and monastic model can still be - then the cost to the employer (the university) is minimal. This is the model Oxford worked with for centuries. But as soon as the employee is a professional with a student loan of their own to repay, a ‘professionals’ expectations in terms of status and salary, and/or a financially independent adult living in their own rented or mortgaged accommodation, with a family, then they will require a significant salary. You get, then, what you pay for, with education. If you want experts, then you will have to pay for them.

If you want to study at Oxford badly enough, and you are accepted, then you will find a way to fund your time here. Remember – buy cheap, pay dear.

We are all approached by students interested in the possibility of developing their Masters / study into a Doctorate.

If you are completing a Masters or even Undergraduate Study and considering extending your study to a Doctorate, start considering seriously now – Masters are the backbone and foundation of Doctorates and will enable you to produce a portfolio of work for interviews and funding applications. Many universities allow (and prefer) a transfer of status from Masters to Doctoral Researcher. If applying for a Doctorate, many Universities may require you to carry out a year additional to your Masters to prove you are capable of researching to Doctoral level and as a form of quality control. Do not assume you will be accepted after this year – you may not find a staff member willing to support or supervise you: there are limits on financial and human resources, which is why developing your Masters to a Doctorate at the same university is an attractive proposition for student and university. Unless you are very independent and self-sufficient, you might also not find a staff member who shares your interests and has an area or level of expertise required to bring you through the post grad process.

Here is a range of questions and answers based on your queries. The following is independent of the university and does not necessarily reflect the views of the university – we are trying to be honest and share some of our wisdom and experience with you. Please get in contact if you have further enquiries or there is something we have not answered.