The following case came into my attention.
A PhD student, A, has a contract until month X. A finished the write up of the thesis in month X-5 (5 months before the contract ends). Till X, none of A's supervisors read the thesis. A asks what about A's funding. A receives reply: "we can extent the contract by 1 month but do your best to defend during this time" (although I fail to see how this is in A's hands).
A receives the approval from A's adviser during X+1.5 and they send it to the external committee members. They schedule the PhD defense to be at X+4. For the 3 extra months, the student is not supported by any grant/scholarship and goes to the unemployment office to support A's living. A's institution blames A for being late ad not doing what A could to defend earlier.
I know for a fact that A's institution can very well support A if they want: there are PhD students well into their 5th-6th year and A is exactly 48 months (at time X, and finished the write up at X-5).
Question: Is this treatment considered fair for A (given that other PhD students in the same office stay 5 or 6 years without anyone being bothered)? Is there anything A could do to avoid being in this situation? Or A should just accept that "that's how things are" and move forward? How can A then ask for a recommendation letter with such treatment?
And finally: What does this say to the external committee? Is it possible that this would create a very bad image for A to the reviewers?
Any feedback or advice would be greatly appreciated!