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University Challenged
Does anyone know anybody who has sued a university over a PhD gone pie-shaped?

Also, is is against employment law for a university to offer someone a teaching and demonstrating job every year and then one year announce a pay cut of 50%?
Student sues university? Happens all the time. Most of these cases seem to get settled before coming to court though.....

Regarding the wage cut...., if a person has been continuously employed, a wage cut might be considered a variation in contract that is tantamount to constructive dismissal. In which case they need to take legal advice as to how to proceed.

This may even be the case if a person has been employed on a series of renewable contracts with breaks, if the breaks can be disregarded for the purposes of continuous employment.

I should say that the advice and support of a trade union is vital at times like this. And if you are not in a trade union....
Students sueing universities happens quite a lot and the courts often rule in favour of the student. A recent case awarded compensation to a whole course since students felt they 'didn't enjoy the course'.
The problem with PhD's is, however, that gathering evidence to support your position is often more difficult, since it doesn't take place in a formal teaching context. The majority of PhD supevision takes place in face-to-face sessions with the principal supervisor, although many unis have now adopted a two or three supervisor model. The majority of dissatisfaction with PhD's usually stems from a falling out or major breakdown of trust between supervisor and candidate. If this has happened the student would particularly have a case if he/she would be able to how that little to no support was received either from the department (represented by the Graduate Tutor or Head of Department), the Faculty or University management (usually Dean of students or other representatives dealing with student concerns) to either mend the student-supervisor relationship or find a suitable replacement.

However, PhD's can run into all sorts of problems and some cannot always be blamed on supervisors or the university. In archaeology especially issues often arise from fieldwork failing or not going ahead (due to permission, funding), material not being available for study, the topic turns out to be too broad/ too narrow. A good supervisor ought to anticipate and mitigate some or all of these issues, but its not always possible (even professors can't stop armed conflicts in a study area....). So, there is always a great deal of self-responsibility involved, but it clearly depends on the issue at hand.

As for the latter issue I am not sure. Sounds like that would entail either a reduction in teaching/ demonstration hours, or a downgrading on the university pay scale. The latter should not be kosher, since Teaching Assistants usually have a well-defined pay-scale.
Interesting article Kevin, reading it brings up mixed feelings...1) Sounds like a very unpleasant viva experience, and at no point should a candidate be ridiculed (especially if it is an open examination). 2) Doesn't sound like the candidate himself was necessarily the easiest person to work with either, and a deleterious breakdown has occurred...3) Academics can be a right funny bunch of children Smile

I love rocks is right, there are various systems in place at uni's to deal with a supervisor/PhD student break-down before it becomes deleterious to the project - but as with the PhD itself, much of it is down to you to sort things out, but there is support if required - a Director of Research etc is often a first point of call. I'm due to submit my thesis in August, so I've seen quite a few people pass through the PhD process is a mixed bag of candidates, across the board...some leave after a few months...some pass through with a few minor corrections and are the success stories...some get major corrections, a year to do them and never resubmit...some scrape through and are unemployable and end up doing something completely different and have wasted 7 years plus at uni. If commercial archaeologists have high levels of personal responsibility, PhD candidates certainly have a very personal high-level of responsibility, unfortunately, at the end of the day it's ultimately up to you to be successful. But having said all that I've seen some woeful PhD supervision in other students, and when that happens there isn't really any excuses for senior academiics to behave in this way, as Kevin's article describes very clearly.

As for students not enjoying the course, don't think that happens where I am...probably cos they don't get asked to do very much Smile

There is usually a very well defined payscale for the various paid opportunities like teaching/demonstrating and invigiliation etc - does sound a bit funny, unless the previous wage was 50% above the minimum rate...worth checking the state of play there medi-evil, but beware of the kafkaesque beaurocracy you will inevitably encounter! In my experience any admin mistakes (and I've had some corkers!!!) take many months to resolve due to a variety of unconvincing excuses but persevere.

Thanks for the opportunity to's been a long week already Sad

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