Constructively Ending the Relationship

Changing circumstances and life events may lead either you or your student to consider ending the working relationship. There are several reasons why a change of supervisors may be the best option for both the graduate student and supervisor:

  • Supervisor leaves the university: The supervisor retires, leaves the university to work somewhere else or is on sick leave for more than a year. If the student has almost completed his or her thesis this may not be an issue, as long as the supervisor is still available for support. However there must still be someone in place with a formal link to UBC who can look after the academic and administrative aspects of completion of the student’s degree program. If the student is still early in their program, and the supervisor is no longer willing to supervise the student, the program has the responsibility to make their best effort to help the student find a new supervisor.
  • Incompatibility of graduate student and supervisor: Sometimes two individuals simply don’t get along, even after honest efforts to do so, and it interferes with their academic activities.
  • Funding: Sometimes funds designated for a student’s stipend do not materialize and other funds are not available. Sometimes research funds run out.
  • Student changes area of interest: Sometimes, a student’s research focus changes or shifts to such an extent that the supervisor feels he or she no longer has the appropriate background to supervise the research. Also, a student may lose interest completely in his or her research and wish to change fields entirely.

These situations require you and the student, in conjunction with the Graduate Advisor for the program or Department Head, to make every effort to identify a suitable supervisor and project for the student.

A graduate student will not be permitted to continue in their program of study without a supervisor and may be required to withdraw if they are not able to find an alternative supervisory arrangement. If a graduate student finds themselves in this situation, they should contact their graduate program office immediately.