I really need advise!


Hello everybody,

I am a Ph.D. candidate at a UK university.

I have submitted my final thesis 3 months ago and my supervisor did not select my internal and external examiners yet. So, my thesis is stuck at the school office and it can not be sent to the University's Registry Office. Since they do not accepted thesis without a declaration form indicating the identity of examiners. So, the VIVA can not be arranged.

I begged my supervisors from a year in order to let me know my examiners but they postponed the decision at all times. I began to send emails to the Head of the Department, the Dean of the School, and others, but this did not work out making the situation even worst. They sent me the complaining forms without trying to resolve the problem. Filling-in the complaining forms means more waiting time (bureaucratic procedure, waiting for the decision, and so on). I tried everything what i could but without getting help from inside the university.

This situation is just caused because my supervisor wants to give me problems! Even, I expressed my health problems due to this circumstance and they answered to look for a medical advice without giving me a proper answer to resolve it. What I am living it is really bad and I do not see the light (the way out).

Please, do you have any suggestions/experience how to cope with this? Are there external bodies in UK that can help to resolve it? Do I have to go to a lawer?

Any advise is highly appreciated.

Thank you indeed.



What is the problem with selecting the examiners? Have you made any suggestions about suitable examiners - that may resolve the impasse? Has your supervisor contacted anyone yet?


Why has your supervisor not selected an examiner? Is that because they didn't feel your thesis was ready to be submitted?


Thank you very much for your replies..

Please, I answer your questions below.

@ DocInsanity
What is the problem to selecting the examiners?: My supervisor decided to give me trouble regardless the quality of thesis or other academic criteria. She wants to prolong this situation that makes me very uncomfortable. There are two matters relating to the selection of examiners. The potential reference letter (they want to kick me out from academia) and the assessment of my work. So, my supervisor would like to select examiners that give me problems.

Have you made any suggestions about suitable examiners?: yes I did, I suggested three names. This was initially accepted, but after my thesis submission, this has been changed looking for somebody else, which make me very perplexed. For six months (before submission), I politely asked to let me know the specific name of examiner (within my three names) in order to finalize my thesis but the decision has been postponed at all times, and after submission, they came out with something else.

Has your supervisor contacted anyone yet?: My supervisor did not contact the examiners that I proposed, which were initially accepted. She contacted others potential examiners justifying the delay as they were busy and they declined it. My supervisor is still looking for examiners after three months of my submission.

Why has your supervisor not selected an examiner?: give me troubles.. That's it. From sometimes, my supervisor plays against me without any apparent reason.

Is that because they didn't feel your thesis was ready to be submitted? I never received feedback from my supervisor during my PhD. However, half of my thesis has been published in a 3 star Journal. Also, I have to say that the University is a low ranking university and the academic staff's expertise is quite low. It is not nice to say this but I have to tell you in order to understand the dynamics. Often, the problems with supervisors can be imputed to PhD candidates, however, It is not always the case. Sometimes, you meet not very nice people that can easily undermine your work, career and future development without accountability.

I have spoke with others PhD and academics, and nobody experienced or heard about similar situations. I really worry about it and I do not know what I can do.

Any advice is highly appreciated.

Thank you indeed.



It can take a while to find suitable and willing examiners - you say some were contacted but they declined, so you know it's not straightforward. It took me a while to get suitable examiners too. They need to be an appropriate combination of experience and expertise.


You are right in a normal situation.

They said that, examiners were contacted but they declined. The problem is that I do not trust at all. Since they are really unprofessional where the mechanism that govern the school is totally different from other UK's schools where knowledge, competences, publications do not matter at all. Everything is possible there just for sympathy or antipathy.

I should take actions but I am very confused of what.


Hi Nick,
This sounds like an horendous situation and unfortunately not one limited to you. I have recently been involved with something similar. What is your area of study?

In terms of external bodies they do exist but they require you to push through the internal complaints procedures first unfortunately.


Hi Tester,

Thank you indeed for your post!

I am in the field of operations management. Please, can you share your experience regard to the similar situation that you were involved?

To the best of my knowledge, I never heard about similar situations. However, If this is not just to me that living such condition, what other PhDs do? How can you come out considering that an internal solution can not be reached? Are there any deadline in the selection of examiners or this situation can go over and over for many months?

Please can you let me know the external bodies that can help even after internal complains?

Thank you.



Hi Nick,
Just to check, have you made an in-person appointment to speak to the head of the graduate school or whoever is responsible for the PhD programme at your university? I understand that you sent emails, and they just sent you complaint forms, which is frustrating and inappropriate. But it's possible they may not have fully understood how crazy the situation is and making an appointment to speak to them, face to face, may help.


I also wanted to add that going to an external body is probably something you can only do once you have exhausted the university's internal dispute-resolution process (complaints etc).

From the point of view of your future career as an academic in the UK, if that's what you want, I would also caution against external involvement (including legal advice) until you are sure you have no other option. That might mean going through every channel the university makes available - in order of escalation, meeting the head of the graduate programme, the head of department, making a formal complaint and waiting for the outcome of that - before bringing any external body in. Definitely keep excellent paper records of every meeting and comment, in case you do need to escalate to a formal process and maybe even legal action, but I advise against actually beginning any such process until you have to. I appreciate how awful it feels to wait and wait and wait, but unfortunately I feel that patience will probably serve you best in the long run.


Hi Gwen86,

Thank you very much for your post!

Yes, I did everything also face to face but they do not understand. So I feel devastated and confused. Many years of my hard work is undermined, so you know is not just one day.

I see your point, patient may pay off in the long run. However, forecasting my VIVA date will be at least after six months of my thesis submission considering the selection of examiners (they are still looking) and then all bureaucratic procedure. This means further stress without considering the economic damage.

However, my expectation is to find a big surprise in the selection of examiners. I did everything very polity and I did not see any change or willingness to resolve it in a reasonable manner. I am not sure that this will be the end of my troubles.


Hi Nick80,

I somewhat understand what you are going through at the moment. I also submitted my thesis nearly three months ago and am yet to receive a viva date, for a number of reasons. I have been advised by my supervisor that the university's policy is for the viva to be organised no later than 6 months after submission. As much as it pains me to say, I may well be waiting another three months until I complete my viva! My advice would be to first check your university's policy. Until that period is over, it might be that no formal complaints regarding the delay can be made (or accepted, at least).

All the best


Hi RLD1984,

Thank you for your post and suggestion! Highly appreciated.

Reading the regulations, they violated almost everything.

Honestly I do not want to go to any formal process, I just want to have a fair treatment but it needs to be in my side at least for what I am suffering. I do not think that I ask to much but just the right thing to do.

My supervisors do not have anything to lose, instead I have everything to lose. This situation is really incomprehensible to me. It is three days that I can not sleep, I am living a miserable life and they know this issue. If you are in the process you know the horrible feeling (e.g. anxiety, not regular eating and sleeping, etc.).

I hope that they will come back to me in order to unlock this terrible situation. I will be patient for sometimes with a hope to avoid any formal inquiry but I can not live this terrible life conditions for long. It is really really bad!! If this situation persist, going through the formal complaints will be pointless in my case, is too much.

Good luck with your process and please keep posted!!


Hi Nick80,

It is a shame how people can do such bad things to others. I think that you will have some words to say if the time will come.

I fully understood your situation. If you send me your email, I will send you some info to cope with this. Just in case!

Please keep going and do not give up.


Thank you indeed for that Mila.