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I'm a Congolese grad student who has received two PhD scholarship offers.

I got the first quite a while ago but when I saw the call for the Irish program I applied because it fit everything I've been doing in my career like a glove, and at the time I was having second thoughts about the first offer and I got the offer as well, just last week.

After thinking hard about the housing situation in Ireland which every single student on the program complained about (some people sleep in labs), compared to the first, the stipend, the interdisciplinary nature of the program and how no one complained about anything of all the students I spoke to, and a bunch of other things I decided to go with the UK offer.

I have no issues with Irish immigration. I'm almost certain that I would get the visa since the program is funded, so I would like to hold off on making a decision.

How do I ask for some time before accepting or declining the Ireland offer so I have the opportunity to hear back regarding my UK student visa application?

Do I reject the second offer? Or ask for time while waiting to hear from the UK immigration? How do I politely ask for time?

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  • Removing the names of the cities actually changes a question quite a bit -- as the cost of living in the UK is substantially different in smaller cities to the big ones or the capital. And it doesn't really remove your identifying information as it is still both preserved in the edit history and the answers -- you should flag the question for moderator attention if you find it important to remove that information for privacy reasons.
    – penelope
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 10:33

2 Answers 2

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Considering the economics, if you compare cost of life in the two cities and the current exchange rate EUR-GBP, life in Dublin would be a nightmare in comparison with Nottingham.

And £18'500 per year in Nottingham is already a quite low salary.

I will let others chip in about the advisor. I do not know enough the UK and Irish systems to judge the importance of having a good advisor. The only thing I would consider, is that since you have a rather small scholarship, a good advisor may be preferrable because they may be proactive in finding funds for you to attend conferences/workshops/etcetc ...

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  • Yes I think this makes sense. Already my would be supervisor at Ireland has shared with me the allowance for conferences and stuff like that and is generally more proactive but I've heard from students at the Nottingham program that the program is also generous and provides a grants for research though I don't know how much
    – Taroer
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 3:48
  • To add to this answer, the PhD students in the UK do not actually receive a salary -- they get a bursary instead. The practical difference is that they do not pay tax on a bursary, so they actually get a bit more money in-hand than somebody on an equivalent salary. Still, the bursaries are quite low regardless.
    – penelope
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 10:34
  • @penelope thanks for the important detail, I checked and according to the tax rate, in the UK a salary is tax-free up to 12'570 £, then for the quotes here written you pay 20% on the remaining salary from 12571 to 18500 (if you have no deductions). My point: it's a complex thing, a bursary may seem more money in hand for the "employee", but usually it is cheaper for the "employer" ---> the employee is losing some benefits (I don't know which one exaclty, maybe access to unemployment, free and inconditioned access to the NHS, retirement savings).
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 12:36
  • As far as I am aware, PhD studentships in the UK are not salaried positions, ever. PhD students are not employees of the Universities (except if they take up e.g. demonstrating duties or something -- but their PhD position is not employment). Of course there are more intricate differences between a salary and bursary - including (current and future) benefits. My point is: when it comes to PhD finances, the advertised number is what a student gets in hand, in full. As a side note, the NHS is free for all (legal?) UK residents regardless of employment status.
    – penelope
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 12:58
  • And another important thing to note would be that, in the UK, a fully-funded PhD position typically (always) means that it covers: tuition fees to the University, estates costs (i.e. you will be provided with a computer and a desk), provides a monthly bursary or stipend (gvt mandated so same for everybody), and has a budget for research activities such as conferences. For exceptional students/conferences, the department can sometimes cover the expenses if the budget is out before the end of PhD. But, students are not expected to pay for those from their bursaries ("living money").
    – penelope
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 13:04
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I recommend you don't reject the second offer until you are certain that you can undertake the first (i.e., when you have sorted out all your visa requirements, etc.). If you need more time for this, you can ask for it, but bear in mind that an unaccepted offer can be rescinded by an institution at any time. If I were you, I would let the second program know that you are presently examining visa rules and eligibility and this this process is taking some time, so you need more time before accepting their offer. While it is possible that the second offer might expire, or they might even rescind, I would think that they would be likely to have some patience.

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