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I am doing my dissertation for the second time now, as I failed the first time. I have sadly used up all my hours with my supervisor and will not get any feedback. So there are no meetings anymore and this supervisor has started working at another university.

I am allowed to ask for help or questions through email, but nothing more until the submission date. The issue is that the advisor I have now won't respond to my emails, I wrote a week ago asking some questions to no avail. She does this regularly and I have even complained. Once it took her one month to reply to me. This is a big issue and I really need help, and I need feedback as I do not want to fail again. How do I go on from now on? I feel very stuck and hopeless, with no support.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 27, 2022 at 14:23
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    Are you an undergraduate, a master's student, or a PhD student?
    – Dawn
    Sep 27, 2022 at 20:11

2 Answers 2

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If someone works at another university, then that person gets paid to help the students of that new university. There is usually some leniency for a transition period. However, if you already used up your allotted hours, then it would be getting increasingly hard to justify time spent on supervising you.

Also, you can complain all you want about a person who is no longer employed there, but what can your university do about that?

In all the universities I worked at there was someone in the department who was responsible for helping students find their way through the bureaucracy. Those persons had different job titles, so you may need to do some searching to find that person in your department. (Yeah, there is some irony in needing to know the local bureaucracy to find the person who can help you navigate that bureaucracy) Go to that person not to complain, but to ask for help.

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  • Re third paragraph, would a common title for this person be the "graduate ombudsman"?
    – shoover
    Sep 27, 2022 at 19:47
  • Not in my institutions. More often it is something like student advisor or some variation thereof. This is a bit confusing as there is also a thesis advisor in this question. Moreover their job is not so much dealing with complaints and conflicts, but pragmatic and low threshold help. Sep 27, 2022 at 20:36
  • @shoover No, mine is an "associate director of graduate studies," despite not being an academic. An ombuds would usually be external to your department and serve a college or all graduate students, at least in the states. Sep 27, 2022 at 21:38
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I have never heard of a student “using all their time with a supervisor”. If the situation is as described, the supervisor has left and you cannot reach her in a timely manner, then I suggest you contact someone from your academic unit for guidance.

It is very unprofessional to abandon a student close to graduation, especially if the student is in difficulty. In my experience most units have discretionary means of mitigating the situation, and your program chair/head/coordinator should recognize this current situation serves no one.

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  • I half agree with this (+1), but don't agree with the criticism of the academic "abandoning" their student. Academics sometimes have to move jobs for a range of legitimate career reasons, and it can be genuinely difficult to manage the workload of a new position as well as helping students from your previous university. In what other profession are you ever expected to concurrently keep doing your old job without compensation or be labelled "unprofessional"?
    – Ben
    Sep 29, 2022 at 2:19
  • @ben The responsibility you take towards a student as a supervisor should not end when you move from one place to the next. Yes you may turn your back on your former employer but I stand by my statement that leaving a student in lurch is unprofessional. If you cannot fulfil your supervisory duties in your new position, you should at least arrange some accommodation or relief for the student. Sep 29, 2022 at 2:56
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    I think we agree that it is appropriate to arrange accommodation for the student, but that is also largely a responsibility of the relevant institutions; they need to put in place policies to ensure that academics who move to new positions can get time to continue supervision. It should not fall on academics to work two jobs concurrently lest they be considered unprofessional.
    – Ben
    Sep 29, 2022 at 3:12

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