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PhD candidates

Are you a PhD candidate, and is there something you’d prefer to discuss with someone other than your thesis director or supervisor? The confidential counsellor for PhD candidates is here to help. You can speak to him/her in confidence and receive advice. If you experience symptoms of physical or mental illness during your PhD research, you can go to the university doctor or psychologist.

Problems with your supervisor or colleagues

Researching a PhD is an intensive process that takes several years, and things don’t always go according to plan. You will be able to discuss most issues with your PhD supervisor or mentor, but that is not always possible. You and your supervisor or mentor may experience persistent problems with your communication, or you might strongly disagree about the direction your research should take. It’s also possible that your working relationship with a colleague might become unsafe due to discrimination, bullying, sexual intimidation or violence.

Don’t wait too long to ask for advice

If you experience problems during your PhD research that are too big for you to sort out on your own, you can talk to your Graduate School’s confidential adviser for PhD candidates. Alternatively, you can also approach a confidential counsellor from another Graduate School. All your meetings with the confidential counsellor are confidential.

What the confidential counsellor does

The confidential counsellor is available to all PhD candidates at the university, including self-funded and external candidates. He/she is there to listen to you and offer advice. If necessary, he/she can refer you to another confidential counsellor who has more specialist expertise.

What the confidential counsellor does not do

The confidential counsellor will not mediate in a conflict and is not in any way a healthcare worker. Nor is it his or her intention to seek the truth behind a problem. He/she is there to support PhD candidates in efforts to restore a workable situation.

Confidentiality guaranteed

Your meetings with the confidential counsellor are confidential. The counsellor will not take any of the steps you discuss without your permission. You always have the final say.

When you should go to the university doctor

If you are experiencing medical or psychological health problems, you can go to one of the university doctors. They will also be able to put you in touch with a psychologist.

Meet the confidential counsellors

Read on for an overview:

David Fontijn

Confidential counsellor for PhD candidates in the Faculty of Archaeology

David Fontijn

“PhD candidates may worry about a lot of things. It often helps if you can talk about it and realise that you’re not the only one with that problem.”

Fontijn is professor of the Archaeology of Early Europe and the confidential adviser for PhD candidates in the Faculty of Archaeology.

Get in touch with David Fontijn via d.r.fontijn@arch.leidenuniv.nl or 071 527 2426.

Rosalien van der Poel

Confidential counsellor for PhD candidates in the Humanities and KITLV

Rosalien van der Poel

“I want to help people look for a solution before a situation gets worse or escalates, and the PhD candidate calls in sick.”

Van der Poel is the confidential counsellor for PhD candidates in the Faculty of Humanities and the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV). She has completed her own doctorate and is a member of the PhD Council, which deals with a wide range of issues PhD candidates face.

As Van der Poel also works part-time as the institute manager of the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (ACPA), PhD candidates from this institute can also go to the confidential counsellor for the Faculties of Law or Social and Behavioural Sciences if they would prefer to speak to one of those counsellors.

Get in touch with Rosalien van der Poel via r.h.m.van.der.poel@kunsten.leidenuniv.nl or 071 527 4137.

Henk Tromp

Confidential counsellor for PhD candidates in the faculties of Governance and Global Affairs and Social and Behavioural Sciences

Henk Tromp

“To begin with, it’s important to understand the situation – how do matters really stand? Then you can work together to look into the potential consequences of any actions you might take.”

Tromp studied Cultural Anthropology and was a researcher and director at the Leiden Institute for Social Scientific Research. He is the confidential counsellor for personnel matters within the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, and the confidential counsellor for PhD candidates in the Faculties of Governance and Global Affairs and Social and Behavioural Sciences.

Get intouch with Henk Tromp via tromph@fsw.leidenuniv.nl or +31 6 34 09 55 29.

Rikki Holtmaat

Confidential counsellor for PhD candidates in the Faculty of Law

Rikki Holtmaat

“Sometimes a supervisor doesn’t clearly communicate what they expect from the PhD candidate. That causes a lot of stress, which has an impact on the research, which in turn leads to even more stress.”

Holtmaat worked for the Faculty of Law for over 30 years. As a retired lecturer, she is well aware of how things work and the different paths you can take to find a resolution to your problem.

Get in touch with Rikki Holtmaat.

Jan Boersema

Confidential counsellor for PhD candidates in the Faculty of Science

Jan Boersema

“The kinds of things I see a lot are communication problems, fear that you’re not going to make it, the supervisor’s style or too little supervision.”

Boersema has a lot of experience in supervising PhD candidates and was on the PhD committee at the Leiden Institute of Environmental Sciences.

Get in touch with Jan Boersema via boersema@cml.leidenuniv.nl or 071 527 5650.

Frits Koning

Confidential counsellor for PhD candidates in the Faculty of Medicine/LUMC

Frits Koning

“It can be intimidating to take your problem to someone you don’t know, but we don’t bite!”

Koning is a Professor of Immunology and is available for PhD candidates in the Faculty of Medicine/LUMC. He is also the confidential counsellor for academic integrity within that faculty.

Get in touch with Frits Koning via f.koning@lumc.nl or 071 526 6673.

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