supervisions by Skype


My supervisor (phobic about commitment to dates, due to overcrowded schedule) is trying to get me to agree to supervisions by Skype or telephone
, which I am not happy about. I am a distance student, but am more than happy to travel to my institution for real supervisions, which are infinitely better, even without my lousy broadband connection and I have been doing this up till now, or meeting her half way. My question is: are supervisions by Skype considered adequate by universities in general? I can see that, if the student is abroad, they are essential, but I am not. I am very uncertain how to tackle this problem. (I am half way through a P/T PhD.)

Avatar for Caterpillar27

I'm not sure about whether universities consider these types of supervision adequate or not, but I have had a lot of supervision with one of my supervisors over the telephone. To be honest, I find it can be just as helpful as a face to face supervision. I am also a distance student, so I gain 2.5 extra hours of study time by not having to travel in to uni for supervision. I also find it easier to discuss issues this way as there is no eye contact. For me telephone is better than Skype, since I can still have my dog on my lap, look a mess, put more wood on the fire (etc), and I've even opened the door to the postman mid supervision before!

As long as you're getting good, helpful supervision, I think the form it comes in is irrelevant.


Speaking as a lecturer and a part-time research student, I think your supervisor has a duty to be available to meet you for certain number of hours each term (at the uni where I am a student, it is 3 meetings per term for part-time students), and if you're willing to travel there in working hours then s/he should find time for you, and I would just be firm about it. I don't think you can necessarily expect a supervisor to travel to meet you or to meet you at weekends or evenings. Some do, but they're not obliged to. My supervisor sometimes suggests skype as an option but I just ignore it because I prefer to meet face to face meetings.

Alternatively, you could offer to give skype/phone supervision a try and then if you really feel it doesn't work for you, your supervisor might respect that.


I am more than willing to travel at any time and find it of great psychological benefit to go to my own institution; living in the depths of the country, it's often hard to feel oneself an academic. I would be willing to try one Skype a term, if bb connection allows, if she will agree to one face to face per term; I find these very helpful and motivating - I would like 2, but would never get them.When I do get to see her, she's an excellent supervisor and I don't want to cause trouble by insisting on what the regs specify. This would also damage the relationship. But she simply will not commit to any date ahead, just says it's not possible, so I'm always anxious about it and never know where I am. I'll just get an announcement that she can meet me a couple of days ahead, too late to get cheap train tickets of course. I suppose I either put up, or shut up; she's certainly v forceful, so there's no question of my insisting; it's not an equal power balance.