The decision to pursue a PhD is not an easy one, more so for those already immersed in the world of work and making good money; the newly weds; or those who now have kids to think about. For these groups of people and others, to become a “student on a budget” again, or have to live separately from loved ones because you can’t afford to migrate everyone, just isn’t appealing.

Unsplash Olu EletuI recently had a chat with a friend in Nigeria who is doing very well for himself in the world of business, wants to pursue a PhD abroad, but cannot afford to leave his business portfolio unattended. What a conundrum! Then I mentioned, “how about a split-site PhD?”

A split-site PhD is an arrangement whereby a prospective student applies for a PhD in a university overseas, but partners with a local university for the duration of his/her programme. Many times, the student is required to perhaps, only travel to the UK twice a year. Everything else, including supervision and access to eResources, is done over the distance. Coventry University UK offers the split-site PhD option for instance. They say, “the split-site research degree programme allows the student to enjoy the comfort and convenience of studying in their home country combined with all the reassurance and quality of a Coventry University award.”

Jobs.ac.uk equally has a very useful post on the realities of pursuing a long-distance PhD program. According to them, the major difference between an on-site and split-site PhD student is how academic progress is monitored and supported by the respective university department. The PhD supervisor plays a key role in the programme, so the student has to remain in contact with his/her overseas supervisor by phone, email, or any means other than face-to-face. Also, academic training content may be delivered to the student via the Internet, and some universities or departments may encourage discussion on online discussion boards.

Certain misconceptions trail the idea of pursuing a split-site PhD programme. Some say employers might not give it the due recognition an on-site PhD degree may confer, and others might argue that you will be missing out on quality student/supervisor relationship. These are misconceptions, and postgrad.com debunks them.

What universities offer split-site PhDs? If I were you, I would simply email a professor in the field and at the university I am interested in. Passion for knowledge is attractive. If they’ve never done it before, you just might be a pioneer student. That said, universities that offer the option would advertise on their websites.

I find that prospective students living in regions where Internet infrastructure isn’t so great may find this arrangement slightly challenging. In some countries, Internet data on a simple plug-and-play costs more than 3 households’ Virgin Media bill a month.

Over all, I think the split-site option is worthwhile. It’s a much better route than giving up on your dreams to earn a higher degree totally, don’t you think?

 

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