Now, if students want funding, they have to explain what they will discover before they start (the best applications are, as most of us suspect, written by the supervisor). When they arrive on their course, they are given codes of practice up to their ears — they know how often they should meet their supervisors, they have regular reviews with other members of the Faculty, they have a secondary supervisor (in case their first one isn’t good enough), and they even have log books in which they can register their contact with their supervisor (in which I fear a jolly good, intellectually productive, discussion in the pub doesn’t quite count — how wrong is that?).
All these initiatives were, I am sure, very well intentioned. They were intended to make sure that PhD students didn’t go for 12 months without seeing their supervisors, or didn’t take seven years to finish their theses, or, worse still, didn’t fail at the end of the process. But I do wonder if the baby hasn’t been thrown out with the bath water. To put it another way, despite (or because of) our good intentions, I suspect that most graduate students now have a worse “learning experience” than we did — at a time before we knew what a “learning experience” was.
A must-read post which will make you think some uncomfortable thoughts!