Discriminatory scholarship practices in the UK

Posted On 3/17/2019 1:38:00 PM, 5175Comments

Hi friends. I wanted to share my experiences with you where I (and many like me) are being discriminated against education and scholarship-wise. I defended my MA about 2 years ago, currently working as a graduate assistant in the US and pursuing a Ph.D. here. I am a Turkish citizen. Here is how my academic journey started. I decided to apply to various Ph.D. programs and wanted to try my luck in the UK as well. Everyone told me that UK does not offer many scholarships to non-EU and non-UK residents, and the quality of education and scholarship opportunities for Turkish citizens are much better in the US (God bless America) and Canada (Oh Canada!). Just because it is closer, I wanted to give UK a go as well. Here is what I have to say to my colleagues before it is too late: - The whole education system and scholarship opportunities revolve around the UK and EU citizens. If that is not discriminatory or racist, I don't know what is. There is a student hunt where professors want to get you as one of their Ph.D. students, yet once they hear that you can't fund yourself, they change completely and become somewhat rude and careless about the whole process. At the initial stages, they seem very invested and nice, yet once the deal is off the table (they learn that you don't qualify for funding and can't support yourself), they simply disappear, and could not possibly care any less about you or your academic progress. So in the UK (where there is a very limited number of good universities that offer scholarships to Turkish citizens) the whole application process and the education system is not worth it, don't waste your time unless you can pay for it yourself. - Especially now, in the Brexit era, UK is going through the process of European fetishism, where the UK and EU citizens are worth more, and the rest of the world (besides the US) simply does not exist for them. It is all engraved in their scholarship system and in their poor treatment of the non-UK and non-EU MA and Ph.D. candidates that can't pay and need a scholarship. Again, think wisely before wasting your time, most of the time you don't even qualify for a scholarship due to your citizenship, no matter who tells you what. - The system in the UK is very different than the admission process in Canada and the US. First, you have to target a potential supervisor, contact them, if you both agree, then your supervisor will guide you from there. Sounds good right? Here is the catch. Usually, this kind of academic relationships is built on your advisor's possible benefits and gains from you. In other words, whatever your potential supervisor tells you, unless they will benefit from you in any way, they won't be this nice and invested in you (feel free to give it a try). Having a Ph.D. student is a matter of prestige in the UK, so don't sell yourself short. Especially we, the Turkish citizens are pretty hardworking and trusting. Most of the time we can easily carry out Ph.D. level work. That is why countries like Canada and the US provide us with a scholarship because we contribute to the country we go to, respect the rules, add to the economy, pay taxes, publish, and so forth. We have proven ourselves academically, so don't get upset over not qualifying for a scholarship in the UK, where the majority buys their diplomas with not so impressive academic backgrounds and capacity anyways. Moving on. So, I found a potential supervisor and I was communicating with him for over 6 months. In a way, it became a committed academic relationship. Once I told the professor that I can't fund myself and need a scholarship (we assume good schools offer scholarships regardless of one's gender, nationality, and so on right?) things changed dramatically. He became less interested, not as invested, etc. This is all understandable since the possibility of them working with you as one of their students is limited now. Bad news. But here is where it gets even more interesting. I contacted my former potential UK supervisor asking him to talk about all of this since I was invested and didn't look into other options (bad mistake), so I was thinking since he believes in me so much and wants the best for me, he would provide some sort of guidance, right? Wrong! Not only he brushed me off, he even refused to provide me with a reference letter. It took me a while to realize that this happens quite often and that I am not the only one, but this was all such a huge waste of time and trust. I would even question all of this in terms of ethics. There goes your first reality check. In short, I started applying to the universities in Canada and the US, and now I am at a great university and have a great academic supervisor who truly cares about me and my progress. UK was a horrible experience for me years ago when I applied and didn't even qualify for a scholarship. The potential supervisor made me realize that I shouldn't sell myself short and trust the majority of academics especially in the UK, who will only use you. Think twice before applying to the UK. Focus on the universities in the US, Canada, Australia. Trust me, UK is not worth it and is a total scam (most of the time). Long post, but I wish someone had told me this years ago.

There is a little bit of 'ass' in every ASSistantship...

Posted On 3/16/2019 2:13:00 AM, 3Comments

Hi colleagues. I am currently an MA student at one of the universities in Turkey, Ankara. I wanted to share some of the injustices that we as teaching assistants face in the field. Already it was hard enough to qualify for a teaching assistantship position (exams, scores, interviews), however, once you get the position, things get even worse. In Turkey, being a TA means doing all kinds of work for your professors including grading the exams, proctorships, translations, writing grant proposals, doing the literature review, carrying documents around, posting signs on empty classroom doors at 5.30 am while everyone is asleep, getting a last minute e-mail at 3 am asking you to do something by 9 am, etc. All of this is fine but having to deal with a hostile environment where your professor frequently threatens you with taking away your assistantship is horrible. I can't wait to be done with my assistantship and defend my MA to set myself free from all these egoistic professors that make me do all the work and take all the credit by also treating me poorly.

Oh, you are a teacher???

Posted On 2/16/2019 9:03:00 PM, 5696Comments

How many of you were faced with a demeaning comment once you told someone who has been climbing the capitalist ladder that you are an English teacher? Right here! Me: I am an English teacher actually... Her: Oh a teacher???!!! That is so sweet...How nice of you to choose a profession that requires you to give up a certain lifestyle... Hey Mark, X over here is an English language teacher, isn't that adorable... -facepalm-

equal pay

Posted On 2/16/2019 8:55:00 PM, 8514Comments

Unfortunately, we as women find ourselves subjected to unequal pay in comparison to our male colleagues in the teaching profession. I was not surprised to find out that while I am living from paycheck to paycheck, my male colleague and a good friend is able to afford more in terms of his lifestyle. Especially when it comes to various classroom\teaching materials, I can only afford to spend so much to make my classes interesting and engaging for the students, since I am paying for those things, and I don't mind, but teachers are not valued enough in most societies unfortunately nowadays.

Job Hiring Practices

Posted On 2/16/2019 8:48:00 PM, 3Comments

I am a native Turkish teacher of English and I have been in many situations where the gatekeepers would prefer a native English speaker with no teaching experience and with a diploma unrelated to ELT. Unfortunately, this is the case in many outer and expanding circle countries, where it is more prestigious to hire a native speaker in English rather than someone who has spent 4 years studying and developing the skills necessary to teach. I was often told that I didn't get the job due to 'being unlucky that a native speaker also applied for the same job'. It is easier for the institutions in Turkey to hire native speakers and train them with some sort of a 3 to 6-month teaching certificate rather than hiring foreign teachers of English (Turkish or other nationalities). I am not trying to create a divide, but even if you are Turkish and have to teach Turkish, you go through a 4-year undergraduate education, no one hires you just because Turkish is your L1. :(