I am in the process of applying to overseas institutions for the phd programme. For this purpose, my referees have already provided me with the reference letters as I am applying to the multiple institutions. So, they are unable to find time for filling the reference request forms. Unfortunately, most of the universities are asking for online reference request which I know my supervisors won't be able to fill it due to the time constraints. So, I fear on losing out on the applications of interest. Please guide me through this.


2 Answers 2


There is nothing you can do but politely ask of your referees that they understand your situation and fill the online form.

There is simply no way my school will accept reference letters supplied through the applicant, and no amount of convincing will change this: there is just too much fraud with LoRs supplied by students.

Even if your referees fill the form online, expect (depending on the country) that they may be randomly contacted via their university or institutional email address to confirm the contents of the LoRs. Again, there is just too much fraud with applicants (or sometimes their agents) creating or controlling false emails. Be advised that our school logs the IP address of people filling out reference forms. I suspect other schools have similar policies.

Regrettably, we have seen (international) applicants arriving under false pretences, leading to absolutely horrible situations.

Finally I would personally automatically dismiss as not fully frank any LoR that is not confidential and has been seen by the applicant.


This really depends on the country, you're not very specific. But my gut instinct is that, if your referees really wouldn't find the five minutes it takes to fill out one of these online forms, they wouldn't actually want to support you.

But my guess is that your referees will be happy to support you, you're just too shy to ask them to fill out the online forms! Can't say I don't understand you.

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    I am not sure I agree. Yes, it's probably only 5 minutes for one graduate school for one student. But, if the professor has 20 students applying for graduate schools, each student applies 10 schools, then the professor has to spend 20 x 10 x 5 minutes to fill out online forms. That's 1000 minutes, more than 16 hours. It's quite a lot of time for a busy professor.
    – Nobody
    Mar 26, 2023 at 12:24
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    @Nobody it is then incumbent to the professor not to agree to write so many letters of support. Mar 26, 2023 at 13:07
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    I think it is just rude by the institutions not to provide an upload option for a fixed reference letter. That's what I am usually encountering: the possibility of filling a form or else upload my own written reference letter. The latter can be done a number of times without undue burden. Mar 27, 2023 at 5:53

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