I'm a UK PhD student and my uni recently decided to open the offices and allow us back on campus.

Since I didn't start with the new intake (I started and worked since January at home because campis was closed) I haven't had a computer provided to me.

It was ordered in August and a promised install date was the 30th September (when campus opened). Well, as you can probably guess this didn't happen and after weeks of emails sent by my supervisor, IT said they haven't got the machine after all and can't provide even a standard desktop for me to work on.

I'm supposed to have an i7 workstation to develop my simulations but they're backordered by months (we weren't told).

My supervisor said the best bet is for him to write to the graduate admin team and request an extension to my PhD work time to cover for their blunder.

I'm not happy and want to make a formal complaint. what's the procedure? I literally can't use the office I'm contracted to work in. There isn't a computer in it nor is there one I can use.

  • 8
    I think your supervisor is going to be a much better resource than us, and the answer is going to be very specific to your university if not your very specific circumstances. At a minimum, though, what is it you're hoping to achieve? I can't see even a general answer without including that.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 22:25
  • I want a computer provided so I can work in the office I'm contracted to Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 22:33
  • 4
    Ok, I don't think it's feasible that anyone here has a magic procedure to get that to happen. How does your supervisor think you should proceed? What does IT say are your next steps? Have you asked them about alternatives? Is there a temporary solution you can use in the meantime? Do you have a personal machine you can get started with or does someone else have a machine they aren't using all the time?
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 22:42
  • 2
    Unfortunately, month-long delays for computers and accessories are common these days. I hope you can find some other computer you can use in the meantime.
    – Anyon
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 22:50
  • 5
    "That to me is unacceptable" Do you want the magic words that fix the supply chain? Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 1:57

1 Answer 1


Filing a formal complaint does not sound like a good idea at all.

First of all, there are no "formal complaint about a failure to provide lab equipment form" that I know of. Your complaint will likely be a letter to one of the offices higher in the hierarchy than that of your direct supervisor. You don't seem to have a good reason to complain about your supervisor actions in that situation, either - what is the purpose of complaint then instead of keeping sorting it out?

Would you feel happier for it if you register a formal complaint and receive a formal response saying "unfortunately, due to the extraordinary circumstances taking form of global supply chain disruptions we were unable to fulfill you request"? It's not like when it's a formal complaint, dean magically turns into a wizard and becomes able to do things they couldn't before.

Now, keeping a paper trail is very sensible in your situation. Your supervisor is your best companion here; you may pester them outlining your concerns and demanding to come up with step-by-step plans, but try to do so without antagonizing them - it'd be lot more efficient that way. "I am extremely frustrated with the state of affairs and we need to come up with the course of action where I would stop losing time (and PhD funding!) and be able to be productive" is fine. "Fix the situation ASAP or else I'll file a formal complaint to your superiors!" is not only counter-productive, it's also extremely immature in your situation.

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