My happiness was curtailed by the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. She sent me an email yesterday afternoon, answering some questions I had about my supervision. It was the last email of the day and I should have left it alone. Instead, I read it.
During the course of this academic year I have had no supervision, to which I am entitled as a PhD candidate. I have also been struggling to have my annual report treated in accordance with the University's rules by the Art History Department and by the School of Graduate Studies staff. I will spare you the details, for the time being.
In the course of all this argy-bargy, I learned of the existence of the Department of Art History Postgraduate Studies Committee, a body which did not approve my annual report. This knowledge I learned from the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. This knowledge I found very rum indeed, since the process for doctoral annual reports prescribed by the Statute and Guidelines for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy does not include any role for any departmental committee.
However, the Department of Art History has such a committee, which considered my report and decided not to approve it, since (according to the Dean in an earlier email) "there was no agreement amongst the parties to that report." So I asked the Dean who were the members of this committee and by what authority did they reject my report. Yesterday afternoon, after some delay, she replied. Apparently,
Clause 5 of the PhD Statute (2008) outlines the Annual Review of Registration process (5 d). There is no requirement under the Statute that departmental postgraduate studies committees are involved in this process. However, the practice in Art History is that the departmental Postgraduate and Research Committee considers all doctoral annual reports and provisional reviews. It is common across the University for such committees, or sub-committees, to do so. The intention, supported by international Higher Education research, is that the involvement of people other than the candidate and main supervisor in such processes leads to better educational outcomes.So, it works like this: there is a Statute which governs the procedure for handling doctoral annual reports; the Department of Art History ignores this statute and chooses to interrupt the reporting process. The Dean of the School of Graduate Studies supports the Department in this respect. Other Departments also ignore the Statute with her support.
I particularly like the bit about this aberration being "supported by international Higher Education research." It sounds so bogus, don't you think? Were I in a better state of mind, I might laugh at the bit about "the involvement of people other than the candidate and main supervisor in such processes leads to better educational outcomes."
Instead, I am very angry. What these twatcocks have done is damage my "educational outcomes." I have been deprived of supervision for a year by people who had no right whatsoever to be involved in my annual report.
What makes me particularly angry is that my privacy has been breached. My former Supervisor, in what seemed to be an act of revenge for me making him my former (rather than present) supervisor, wrote a very nasty and personal report about me. This report has now been shown to people who had no right to see it. Those people were fellow members of my Department, people known to me. I feel embarrassed that they have seen my report. I also feel resentful that they rejected it, depriving me of my rights as a PhD candidate
Fortunately, I am on my way out of the Department of Art History. I am going to the School of Architecture. The Dean at least enabled that move. But my year has been ruined by these people.
A while back, I announced that I had refused to complete my annual report. I was criticised severely by Peter in Dundee for my self-indulgence. I was somewhat stung. For this and other reasons, I completed the report. But then it was rejected by people who had no right even to read it.
I have learned a lot this year, about the way the Department of Art History works. Over the Christmas period, I intend to share this knowledge with readers. By these means, I hope that anyone who is thinking of undertaking a postgraduate degree in Art History at Auckland University will be fully informed.
It's all about improving educational outcomes.