supervisor issues

supervisor issues

Your offer from UEA should include information of the arrangements to supervise your work and the name of your primary supervisor. The summary below is general guidance, and we recommend that you talk to the PGR office or talk to a Union Advice Worker if you are concerned about issues with your supervisor.

What you can expect of your supervisory team

•Your supervisory team will comprise at least two members, normally UEA staff whose contracts with UEA will continue for at least as long as your degree programme is expected to take.

•Your primary supervisor will have a doctorate or the equivalent research experience, be an active researcher and have at least a year’s experience of supervision.

•Your second supervisor will also be research active.

•All members will have had initial training and undergo continuing professional development.

•There may be additional members of the team if required for your particularly area of study, and the composition of your team may change over time if your research changes direction.

•Consideration will be given to diversity (and in particular gender balance) when creating or changing a supervisory team.

Special approval is required for:

•an honorary member of a UEA post, or for someone outside UEA to act as a supervisor.

•a supervisor to supervise more than 6 students at a time.

Supervisory meetings – how and when?

•Your primary supervisor should arrange a meeting with you within 3 weeks of your registration.

•Meetings will primarily be face –to face, but alternative methods (such as Skype or telephone conferences) can be used if everyone agrees.

•You should agree with your supervisory team what meetings there will be and how you can contact each other. All formal meetings will be recorded in an annual review of progress.

•It is expected you will have meetings with your primary supervisor roughly monthly, and you should have at least 8 meetings a year if you are a full-time student (inclusive of review meetings – see below). These should be scheduled and held in an appropriate environment so that the meetings will not be interrupted.

•You can expect to have formal progress review meetings with your full team at least 3 times a year. One of these will be your annual review of progress.

•Informal contact such as emails and ad hoc phone calls will not be regarded as substitutes for the formal meetings you are expected to have. However, scheduled telephone conferences can be used for formal meetings in appropriate cases.

•You should have a full team meeting within a month of moving from your research period to your writing-up period to plan future supervision and meetings.

What is expected of you

•Your application should have included enough information about your research proposal for a supervisory team with the right expertise to be identified for you.

•You should attend all agreed meetings with your supervisory team. If you don’t stick to an agreed meeting schedule, you may be subject to disciplinary procedures.

•To agree a provisional working title, the working objectives of the project and a timetable of activity over the period of study with your supervisory team within 3 months of registration

•Not to undertake more than an average of 6 hours of paid employment a week if you are a full-time student (up to 180 hours maximum per academic year). You should also check with the PGR office whether there is an overall limit on your hours of work during your registration period. You are required to get approval of your supervisory team before you do any paid work. Students on Professional Doctorates (e.g. ClinPsyD) should refer to their course handbook for limitations on additional employment. International students should check whether they are permitted to undertake paid or unpaid work under the terms of their visa and what limits apply to them, including during the writing up period. .

•To understand what is expected of you as a postgraduate student in terms of independent study

•You share responsibility for making sure that your progress and plans for completion are reviewed.

•To meet agreed objectives for the completion of your work.

•You should keep your supervisory team informed of any absences and ensure you follow any sickness reporting requirements at your place of work and/or required by the PGR office.

My supervisor is going to be away for a long period

•If your primary supervisor will be absent for longer than 8 weeks, (and sometimes for shorter periods where there is a need) the School is responsible for making sure that supervision arrangements will continue. This may be by remote supervision, where this would be effective. If not an alternative supervisor should be provided, either temporarily or permanently.

My supervisor is leaving the UEA

•Normally, a new primary supervisor will be appointed. If you are near completing your Period of Study, or there is no-one suitable within the university, it may be possible for your primary supervisor to remain on the team and supervise remotely.

I have a problem with my supervisor/I want to change supervisor

•You have the right to request a change of supervisor, and the UEA will normally try to accommodate your request. Remember that in some areas there may only be a limited pool of supervisors with the necessary expertise. Another factor to consider is that funding, or a specific project is sometimes tied to a particular supervisor, so that if you change supervisor you may risk losing funding or have to change project. It’s important to get advice early on so that you understand the possible consequences of changing supervisor. International students on Tier 4 visas should talk to the International advisers in Student Support Services to check whether there are any implications for their visas before going ahead.

•Before you request a change of supervisor, you are expected to try to resolve the problem informally. The sooner you talk to someone about any concerns you have, the better the chances are of reaching a solution that is good for you. If you find it difficult to talk to your supervisor about the problem you are having, arrange to talk to the PGR Director in your School to try and resolve the issue.  advice(su) can also offer support with informal resolution.

•If you cannot resolve a problem with your supervisor informally and you request a change of supervisor, you will be asked to explain why you want to change. If you do not wish your reason to be recorded you can ask to supply the reason to be disclosed in confidence to the Academic Director of Research Degree Programmes.

•The first step to change supervisor is to ask to have a meeting with the nominated School PGR Director, or your Head of School. If you wish, you can ask a Union Advice Worker to accompany you to the meeting, but you should first request agreement to this from the person you are meeting. He or she will explore with you why you would like to change supervisor (subject to the confidentiality arrangements mentioned above), discuss the impact a change will have on your progress, and if appropriate help you find a new supervisor

•In some cases, a change of supervisor will not be the resolution you are looking for, and you may feel you wish to make an Academic Complaint. advice(su) can offer you guidance on how to make an Academic Complaint - for more information see