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I know that any admission application is subject to review, but I was thinking that the main competitions and open calls are for funding. If someone has full funding and a reasonable resume can directly apply for PhD programs in top universities (MIT or Oxford). In other words, there is no limit in available spots for applicants if self-funded and a supervisor is interested.

I saw some call for applications: for example. UEA is not a bad university, but not a university everyone wishes to study there, then waiting for call for application. I mean, students check if Oxford has an open fellowship to apply, but if you have funding, why you should wait for UEA to announce that they have free place for PhD students?

Even for self-funded students, universities normally support with TA or RA programs, but here it is mentioned that a bench fee should be paid in addition to normal tuition fee. And it is needed to have a degree with honors to apply.

My question is: do really student compete for a PhD position even when they are self-funded?

Do they receive some applications on such calls for self-funded studentship OR it is just a tricky advertisement?

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    Funding is one thing. Supervision requires a lot of time and attention, and for top professors, time is more important than money. – user8001 Oct 14 '15 at 14:34
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    @user8001 In my experience, they always spend their time to attract more funding. – Jia Oct 14 '15 at 14:36
  • In a situation where "there is no limit in available spots", no competition will take place. (That can be a good thing or a bad thing.) – O. R. Mapper Oct 14 '15 at 15:07
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    @O.R.Mapper: Of course, there is always some limit in available spots. And even if the limit is larger than the number of applications, some screening will still be done to make sure that only qualified applicants are accepted. – Nate Eldredge Oct 14 '15 at 16:01
  • @NateEldredge: I merely quoted the OP on the assumption that there is no limit. Note, however, that "screening [for] qualified applicants" is independent of competition, and if the limit is high enough to be far away from the actual number of qualified applicants (as is, for instance, luckily usually the case for many engineering subjects in my place), the theoretical existence of a limit somewhere is practically irrelevant. – O. R. Mapper Oct 14 '15 at 20:10
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At most reputable schools, self-funding will not exempt you from the admissions process. At the best schools, admission is often completely independent of funding.

  • Can you elaborate a little bit? I understand why admission is independent of funding in top schools, but why not lower schools do that? – Ooker Oct 18 '15 at 2:57
  • I have no knowledge of the lower tier schools and will leave that for someone else to comment upon if so inclined. – keshlam Oct 18 '15 at 5:33

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