I was living in the UK and studying towards an accountancy qualification, I was about to finish my course when the recession came, and people were struggling for jobs. Someone suggested to me, “if you are interested in a PhD look at what The Open University offers”. Before that I didn’t know the OU did research degrees. I was surprised when I looked at their website at the range of research going on and the academics that were there.
I’m in my third year at the OU, the first year I did an MRes (Master of Research degree) because I had no research background, and I’m now doing my PhD. I’d just done an MBA in Finance and then the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) exams. In the beginning, when they offered me the MRes I wasn’t happy about it, because it adds one more year, but now I’m really glad I did it. The OU provides a very good MRes training. If I hadn’t done it, my ideas for my PhD would have been less clear.
I’m looking into the link between internal corporate governance mechanisms and the performance of the UK-listed companies, both before and during the recession. I’m specifically interested in the recession because it provides a unique experimental environment to compare the effects of governance on the performance of firms in different times. Also, there is not a lot of research in this area at the moment.
I’m very happy here and very satisfied with the facilities and the people I’m working with. Compared to people doing PhDs with other universities, we have many more facilities. I have my own private office. I have my own computer and desk space. Although these things sound small, it means I can carry out my work at my own pace and time. The research funding is good too. I have a fully funded scholarship which covers both tuition and living costs. The OU is quite generous in offering scholarships to foreign students. And apart from your scholarship they also provide expenses for things like travelling and attending conferences.
I really like living in Milton Keynes. I came from Manchester, and in the beginning I thought Milton Keynes would be boring. Once I started playing cricket and long tennis – which are all provided by the OU – it was fine. There’s plenty of opportunity to socialise.
I’m thinking about going into academia after I finish my PhD in 2012. I would certainly stay on at the OU if I had the chance.
Sardar Ahmad, Pakistan. PhD: The Association between Corporate Governance Mechanisms and the Performance of Firms