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Change of supervisor

Change of supervisor

If problems arise relating to supervision, the PhD student ought to firstly raise the issue directly with the supervisors, the head of the department (prefekt) or those responsible for the department’s post-graduate programme (i.e. director of research studies, studierektor för forskarutbildningen, or equivalent).  At any time during such a process you can turn to the Ombud for PhD students who can offer confidential advice.

According to national legislation (the Higher Education Ordinance, chapter 6 § 28 section 2), doctoral students have the right to request a change of supervisor, if they wish to do so. A PhD student is accepted to a Department at the University, and not to e.g. an individual supervisor there employed or to a project. A change of supervisor can involve complications, but it is a legal right, and thus the faculty and department are obligated to assist where necessary. The person responsible is the head of department. However, at some departments, this duty has been delegated to the director of research studies.

It is the duty of the head of department to find a solution, which as far as possible satisfies the interests of all parties. In some cases, e.g. where the student is nearing completion of the research, it should be considered whether the original supervisor should retain scientific responsibility for the project. In cases where the student has only recently begun the research, a change of project can be considered in addition to a change of supervisor. The extent to which this is motivated varies between different research subjects.

It is often easier to change a supporting supervisor than changing the main supervisor. It is not particularly uncommon that a change of supporting supervisor is made due to a project progressing in a direction where scientific reasons motivate such a change.  

A change of supervisor should take place if:

  • a supervisor is no longer employed by or adjuncted to the university, or takes full-time leave of absence over a longer period,
  • if duties within the university, or illness, make it difficult to fulfil the obligations of supervisor, or
  • if there is a conflict of interest. For more information, see regulations concerning conflict of interest in the university sphere (Jävsregler inom universitetets verksamhetsområde): (only available in Swedish)

In the case of a change of supervisor, the individual study plan must be revised and its changed conditions must be reported to Uppdok and to the Faculty Office (or the equivalent thereof at your faculty) for registration.