I've seen many personal web pages of (US/UK/EU) academics that have a list of all the PhD, MSc/BSc or internship students they've supervised before. Is this allowed or does it break privacy of the students?

  • 14
    Any student you have co-authored a paper with is linked to you quite publicly.
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 27, 2017 at 12:45
  • 2
    Unlike undergrad teaching (in the U.S.), in graduate mathematics, successful mentoring of a student through a PhD is a non-trivial accomplishment. It's "completing a major project", and is an important part of faculty function, and is judged by administration. If a student told me that they did not want any public acknowledgement of my mentoring, while this wouldn't put the relationship out of the question, it would make me wonder what was going on, and I might feel short-changed... Of course, in harassment situations, I could understand. But, having connections is a professional plus. Jun 27, 2017 at 22:34
  • Aside from the simple legal issue of privacy law, I doubt if you would find any "bad" information about a student on a supervisor's web page. Why would a supervisor want to advertise his/her failed students?
    – alephzero
    Jun 28, 2017 at 0:11
  • 2
    @JonCuster Not just coauthored a paper... also written a thesis under your supervision. At least around here a thesis is a publication, in a way.
    – skymningen
    Jun 28, 2017 at 10:02
  • 2
    I note all the answers here were written before the coming into force of GDPR. Can anyone comment on whether anything has changed? Dec 26, 2021 at 20:49

4 Answers 4


The governing federal law in the USA is FERPA - the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Under FERPA a school may generally disclose what is identified as "directory information," things such as names, email addresses, photographs, etc. However the student has the right to request that their directory information be excluded from public disclosure, so it's possible that they are not covered here.

Note that, as in most cases, individual states may have their own privacy statutes.

If you are really concerned then the prudent thing to do, regardless of legal jurisdiction, would be to ask the student in an email whether they are OK with the posting of their name and potentially other information. The email provides a reasonable level of proof that you did your due diligence prior to posting student information.

US DoE guide to FERPA: https://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/students.html

  • I think the train of thought is that the student is (implicitly, but maybe it should be explicit) consenting to disclosing some information on a lab/group website because it's generally seen as positive for them and the lab to show some activity as maybe a form of advertising.
    – Nick T
    Jun 27, 2017 at 22:43
  • If a student has asked to have their directory information kept confidential, then FERPA would require the faculty member to keep it off their web page. However, most graduate programs require the publication of a thesis or dissertation and the student doesn't have a FERPA right to keep that information private. Dec 27, 2021 at 4:41

Many professors do this to establish the "academic family tree" of their lab. Most of the students are happy about it and proud. It only documents that you spent some time in that lab/group working on a topic, which I don't think violates your privacy. If you don't want that, you can contact the professor to get your name removed; shouldn't be a problem.


I don't know in the UK, but at least in Spain these data (at PhD level) are public. Not only student and supervisor, but also committee members, etc. Here an entry of the database: https://www.educacion.gob.es/teseo/mostrarRef.do?ref=1381779

I wouldn't consider that as a breach of privacy but actually good transparency.


This not only allowed but is a good practice too towards transparency, and is definitely not a breach of privacy.

Supervision is a publically known position, not secretive and the website is only making it known to a wider audience.

If the student's private emails or personal information of their private travel, etc were revealed on a public site, that would be a breech on the reasonable expectation of privacy.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .