What's it like to do a PhD at XJTLU?

12 Apr 2021

Ever wondered what it’s like to do your PhD at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University? For insight into doctoral life here, we chatted to students and alumni across the University, as well as Professor Zhoulin Ruan, Academic Director of XJTLU Graduate School, and Professor Wei Zhou, Head of XJTLU Graduate School.

For details on how to apply for a PhD scholarship, please visit the scholarship webpage. The next application deadline is Thursday15 April.

Why did you choose XJTLU for your PhD?

Boling Li, PhD in Biological Sciences (below):
After completing my undergraduate degree in China, I went to the University of Birmingham in England for my masters. Studying overseas made me value diverse academic backgrounds, which is why the international atmosphere of XJTLU appealed to me.

Na Li, PhD in Education (below):
I first joined XJTLU to work in educational technology. I wanted to further my education, but as a working mom with two children, it would have been difficult to do a full-time programme. When the Institute of Leadership and Education Advanced Development (ILEAD) at XJTLU started a doctoral programme in education with a part-time option, I took the opportunity to apply and was fortunate to join the first cohort of doctoral students to learn from Dr Xiaojun Zhang and Professor Youmin Xi.

What do you think of the research facilities at XJTLU?

Rui Pei, PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering (below):
What sticks in my mind is the time we built a big reverberation chamber, which we needed for certain testing conditions in our research. We got a lot of help from XJTLU and our supervisor, even though it took up a lot of space on campus, and required a door weighing more than 400 kilograms. At many universities, it’s impossible for a student to apply for equipment like this, but XJTLU’s support allowed us to finish this project in less than six months.

What do you think of supervisor support for your research project?

Prateek Kumar Singh, PhD in Civil Engineering (below):
My supervisor, Dr Xiaonan Tang, is a great sounding board for ideas. He encourages me to pursue what I care about, and helps me identify the feasibility of my ideas — he lets me know if pursuing something would be a waste of my time. But he also encourages me to try whatever I’m passionate about, and permits mistakes. Failure is a part of the research process, because it allows me to learn more.

Xiaoling Jin, PhD in English:
My tutor is very rigorous in academic research and helps students revise their work very carefully. Regardless of whether we go to him with a big problem, like research direction, or just a small one, he considers it carefully. His comments always make me think: "Gosh, that makes sense. How did I miss that?”

What advice do you have for students who want to apply for a doctoral programme?

Winge Xu, PhD in Computer Science and Software Engineering (below, second from the left):
Choose supervisors whose research interests match yours. Secondly, get involved in some research projects during your undergraduate studies to learn more about a field.

Enakshi Ketaki Sivasudhan, PhD in Biological Sciences:
If you are passionate about your topic and you have a constant need to find answers, if you like to collaborate with people from different backgrounds, if you’re open to exploring new things, then this is the ideal doctoral programme for you.

(Postgraduate Symposium, December 2020)

Lastly, let’s hear from XJTLU Graduate School:

Professor Zhoulin Ruan, Academic Director of XJTLU Graduate School
The training model for doctoral programs at XJTLU is inspired by that of the University of Liverpool. We recruit students through an application system, but passing an admission test does not mean you are qualified to pursue a doctorate. Candidates must have a clear vision of their research. In fact, we stress that applicants’ research projects are more important than their academic backgrounds and English proficiency.

Professor Wei Zhou, Director of XJTLU Graduate School:
The Graduate School provides a range of training for doctoral students, and supports them in academic exchange activities. These exchanges include providing funding to attend academic conferences, as well as working with the University of Liverpool, to enable students to visit UoL for three to six months and work with a supervisor there.

The scholarships offered by XJTLU for doctoral programs are very generous. A full scholarship provides a living allowance of 5,000 RMB per month for up to three years, and the 80,000 RMB annual tuition fee is waived. There are two rounds of scholarship programmes every year, with application deadlines on 15 April and 15 October. Previously, the doctoral scholarships were applied for by supervisors with their research projects, but last year we introduced a system allowing some doctoral students to apply with their own projects.

By Luyun Shi, Yuxin Dong, Keyu Lu, Ke Tang
Edited by Patricia Pieterse
Photos by Yanyin Ni

12 Apr 2021


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