Hi all, I am going to take the Cambridge University Masters course in Math (known as Part III of the Mathematical Tripos) next year, and I am a bit paranoid having heard of how notoriously difficult it can be.
So I am just trying to be prepared for any possible outcome here
For those unfamiliar: it's a taught masters course that lasts 1 year (more close to 9 months really) and the course level is similar to what one would encounter during the first two years at a US math graduate program -except more specialized. There are 2-unit and 3-unit courses and there is also the option to submit a (maximum of) one written essay, which consists of a literature review of an advanced topic, chosen from a list announced during the year. All in all, one may choose up to 19 credit's worth of any combination of courses and an essay (if applicable) so long as any 2 don't coincide. At the beginning of May, each candidate is required to submit a signed form listing the papers s/he wants to be examined on, and, if applicable, the essay topic and the essay itself. Then, the written exams take place during the first 2 weeks of June. These written exams -and the essay, if applicable- are the only means of official assessment -no credit whatsoever is given to homework, seminars etc- and they are "final" in every literal sense: no retakes are possible unless there is a medical emergency, mental health issue, loss of family member etc.
Now, I plan to apply to US universities as soon as I get there. From my understanding of the US system, if you receive an admissions offer with funding, then usually, the letter asks you to complete your undergraduate degree (if applicable) and states that financial support is conditional upon satisfactory degree progress. Now, the first clearly does not apply to me, so I would probably only be left with the second. Now, from discussions with others, I know some universities will ask you to complete all outstanding coursework and show them the final transcripts. But there are others, that say nothing of the sort, and only list the satisfactory degree progress as a requirement to continue funding over the program duration. It is those in the second case I am interested in...
Is admission unconditional on these programs? What happens if I fail? True, it's hard to fail, but exams are exams and these happen in a short time period with no second chances... My intuition says that the vast majority -if not all- of these universities would immediately revoke their admissions -or, equivalently, their funding- offers. And I could hardly blame them.
However, an accepted funding offer after April 15 is a legal contract, binding on both parties. So, what would legally/technically allow them to revoke an offer, based on something that is not listed as a condition for admission? The only reasoning I could come up with is:
a)They could argue it's a misrepresentation.
b)Satisfactory degree progress could be taken to include coursework before matriculation.
But somehow, these arguments seem really weak: the first obviously fails to take into account that I would not have provided erroneous information with the purpose of misleading the admissions committee -since, at the time of submitting the application, I would obviously have thought that I would pass the exams, else I would have quit- and the second fails simply because many universities explain that satisfactory degree progress, concerns courses at the student applies as credits towards the new degree -meaning that past exams should be irrelevant for this purpose.
I also wonder how they could find out since, in our scenario, nothing seems to indicate a student responsibility to submit final transcripts to the registrar, or student office or whatever...
I cannot imagine how any university would not "punish" the student somehow, as that would give "free pass" to anyone in a similar situation to just stop working after receiving an offer. However, like I said, I cannot find any legal/technical justification for breaking the contract, IF it's not explicitly listed in the conditions...
Am I missing something here? Could anybody shed some light on this?