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I applied to a high-ranking university (social sciences; English-speaking country, not the US), but it was a late application. They seemed interested in my case and I was even interviewed by my potential supervisor who told me he would recommend me. After the results (for PhD position + scholarship) were released, however, they communicated to me that they did not have time to review my case and they wanted to keep it for the next round. Of course, they explicitly mentioned that this is not a negative result, but I was wondering whether this is a common decision made by the universities?

Also, in the decision period, I emailed my potential supervisor a couple of times, giving him updates on what measures I am taking regarding my research topic, for instance. He responded once. Should I contact him again as the results will be released several months from now? Or should I just wait?

A related question I have is whether it is acceptable to apply to other universities, in the meantime, with the same research proposal? Thanks.

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    Yes, you should definitely apply elsewhere.
    – astronat
    Jun 17 at 8:08
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it was a late application.

It means it went into the bin "if we really need to fill the position, and we have no other candidates, let's consider this applicant, too"

they communicated to me that they did not have time to review my case

They did not review your case.

and they wanted to keep it for the next round.

They keep it just in case they don't fill the future position with the future applications, and with the future late application. Plus there may be some strange data protection law, where they have to log through long processes to manually delete your application, so it is easier for them to keep it open in their records until automatic deletion incurs.

explicitly mentioned that this is not a negative result

In fact it is not any result, they said "we did not review your case".

So, going to your question(s):

  • Should I contact him again as the results will be released several months from now?

Not useful to contact him about the results, very useful to contact him proactively to write a proposal to fund your research with him/her indipendent of the PhD selection process.

  • Or should I just wait?

For that specific PhD application? Yes. Wait next year application round and go through that.

  • is it acceptable to apply to other universities, in the meantime, with the same research proposal?

Yes. But be smart: try to align your proposal with the state-of-art of the focus of the department research [1]. Do it without taking your proposal as a founding stone, but as a raft with which you sail through the topic. You may have some pleasant but uncomfortable surprise, after feeling drowned in the subject (this department is completely wrong?!) you will realize you can swim in the topic of your choice.

[1] example: if you are interested in research on water cycle and water movement, you may be interested in seeing how rainwater infiltrates the soil and ends up in agricultural fields. However, it would be not wise to propose this topic in the context of "rainfall in the Tibetan plateau" to a geophysics department that is switching from "climate research" to "industrial applications" ...

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  • My application is still lodged in their system with a 2022 date and it is "pending". They updated it themselves. So if they wanted it to be deleted, why update it? Also, when you say "wait next year application round and go through that", what do you mean exactly? Apart from applying to other places, is there anything else I can do for this university?
    – DIanon
    Jun 17 at 9:01
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    You did apply for them, you did not sign with blood an exclusivity contract. You are just applying for acceptance to a PhD plus fundings. It may not seem obvious, but, if your CV allows you to be accepted, it does not mean you will get fundings. On the other hand, if you manage to get external fundings, your CV will almost surely be considered good enough to be accepted in the PhD program and to speed up or find exceptions to whatever application process you are going through. So, with respect to that application you cannot do anything else, but you are free to do everything else.
    – EarlGrey
    Jun 17 at 9:09

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