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Graduate students, Department of Engineering

 

Try to resolve issues locally

If you experience any issues with supervision, the first thing to do is to try and resolve it through communication. Having a discussion with your supervisor about expectations regarding frequency of meetings, preparation expected and receiving feedback can help to clarify what each party would like, and it is also a good idea to have a written agreement. 

If talking to your supervisor doesn't resolve things, or you do not feel able to discuss the issues with your supervisor, there are various other people that you can go to to help.

Departmental graduate mediators

There are two graduate mediators in the department, Prof Allan McRobie and Dr Athina Markaki. The graduate mediators are able to provide support independently of your supervisor and research group, and can offer pastoral support if necessary. They are able to act as a mediator or an advocate for students facing difficulties, and can be consulted if the relationship between a student and a supervisor is in trouble. They are also able to advise on what is normal and expected of students if you are unsure or in doubt. If they are unable to help, they will be able to signpost you to other useful resources. These mediators are available not only as a last point of contact, but are happy to be contacted at any time for any issues, whether big or small. Any conversations are strictly confidential, unless you give permission for them to speak to somebody else.

Other contacts with the department

Your graduate adviser is available to speak to about any academic concerns that you have. The Head of Division is responsible for all graduate students within the Division, and they can also be approached.

As the director of graduate education in the Department of Engineering, the Deputy Head of Department (Graduates), Prof Bill O'Neill, is available to speak to graduate students about any concerns that they have. You can email her to make an appointment, or drop by her office.

Graduate Studies Office staff can provide advice, signpost you to helpful resources and discuss your options. They can also assist if you wish to make a complaint about your supervisor.

University's Mediation Service pilot

The University is currently trialling a mediation service for graduate students and supervisors. Mediation is facilititated by professionally trained mediators within the University, and usually takes one day. They are also able to offer facilitated conversations, if full mediation is not required. It is not necessary for a relationship to have completely broken down in order to access this service, the Mediation Service encourages intervention before things deteriorate further. Both student and supervisor need to agree to participate in mediation, however the department can assist with raising this with the supervisor if requested. To access the service, please email the Office for Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals (OSCCA).

College Tutor

Your College Tutor is available to speak to about any difficulties you are experiencing, including with supervision or your supervisor. They can advise you, and may also intervene on your behalf, if requested.

Harrassment, bullying, discrimination or sexual misconduct

Students should expect never to experience harrassment, bullying, discrimination or sexual misconduct. If you think you have been subject to any of these, is is important that you seek support. Speak to your College Tutor, Counsellor or Nurse, use the University's Counselling Service, the independent Students' Unions' Advice Service, or for sexual misconduct seek emotional and practical support from the Sexual Assault & Harassment Advisor.

If you wish to raise a complaint about a University staff member please complete the Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Reporting Form and email it to OSCCA@admin.cam.ac.uk.

Anonymous complaints

If you are unhappy with the experience you have received from a University department, faculty, service or staff member, the University has a Student Complaint Procedure for you to use in order to try and resolve the situation. All complaints are treated seriously and are handled sensitively. 

The Student Complaint Procedure requires a student to identify themselves so that a matter can be investigated and an effective remedy put in place.  However, there may be some circumstances where a student wishes to report something so that the University knows about it and can take action, but the student does not wish to be named and make a complaint.  In this circumstance, speak to your Graduate Tutor or email OSCCA@admin.cam.ac.uk and we will chat through any available informal options.

You can also anonymously report any type of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct to the University using the anonymous reporting tool.  This system is completely anonymous and enables the University to understand the prevalence and type of misconduct happening at the University.  However, its purpose is to collect statistical information and a report will not result in any action being taken in relation to the indidvidual incident.

Changing supervisor

In some cases, where there has been an unresolvable breakdown in the supervisory relationship, it may be necessary to change supervisor. This is not always an option (eg if your funding is tied to your project), but if you wish to discuss the possibility, please speak to staff in the GSO, or the Deputy Head of Department (Graduates).