In the course of their academic pursuit, international students undertake projects which need to be supervised. For this reason, it is important to maintain an effective working relationship with supervisors.
Like any working relationship, the relationship that you have with your supervisors will take time to develop. It will require effort on both sides to improve your chances of completing your degree successfully. So how can international students maintain cordial relationships with supervisors successfully?

Understand your mutual responsibilities and expectations

Since there are mutually exclusive responsibilities between you and your supervisor, discuss the expectations you will have of each other. Confirm your mutual expectations based on

  • Frequency and format of your formal supervisory meetings.
  • The nature of the advice and feedback that your supervisors will provide.
  • The submission of written drafts and other works plus the need to allow sufficient time for your supervisors to read and comment on them.

Show independence and the ability to manage problems

As a research student understand that the project is your responsibility to

  • Plan and manage your active research – experimental/ laboratory/ archival/fieldwork and data collection.
  • Record and analyse your results/ findings.
  • Develop your research and other skills.
  • Present your work and conclusions in a written thesis of appropriate standards and submit same at the stipulated deadline.
  • Defend your thesis in a viva voce examination and make any changes as required by the examiners.

Always bear in mind that your supervisors are there to provide you with appropriate advice and guidance. Keep your supervisors informed of your progress, manage your time well and endeavour to overcome any challenges you may encounter.

Show a positive and professional attitude

The importance of maintaining a positive and professional attitude cannot be overemphasized. You can do this by maintaining cordial relationships with your supervisors, fellow researchers, and others. Be open to constructive feedback from your supervisors and progress review panels. Be pro-active with your research by expanding your subject knowledge and developing your skills and employability. Being positive and professional makes it easier for your supervisors to support you will need to complete your research successfully.

Stay in touch 

Being a vital part of your journey and success, you need to keep your supervisors informed of your progress to keep you motivated. This will afford them the opportunity to provide appropriate advice, feedback and help you stay on track with your research. Full-time PhD/MPhil students holding a Tier 4 (Student) visa need to stay in touch with their supervisors regularly. Failure to do so could result in your visa being withdrawn, you could even be required to return to your home country.

Meet agreed deadlines

When you and your supervisor come to an agreement on deadlines, do your best to meet the agreed deadlines. Deadlines include completing your active research, writing your thesis, undertaking skills and career development activities. It could also include tasks such as preparing a conference presentation or contributing to a written report/article.

Owing to the fact that supervisors are very busy people, missing deadlines repeatedly gives an air of unseriousness on your part. It also means you won’t get the feedback and insight you need to make your work of expected standards. Employers are interested in people who can deliever on target.

Use your supervisors’ advice and feedback

One of the most important responsibilities your supervisor has is to advise and give you feedback. Feedback includes the strengths and flaws of your works so it would be unwise to accept the strengths and disregard the flaws pointed out. Embracing both is a step in the right direction and is key to your success. Supervisors will provide advice on analysis, findings, the direction and management of your research. If you are unsure why your supervisor is making a particular suggestion, feel free to ask them about it.

Be open and honest

Just as you’d expect your supervisors to be open and honest in analyzing your works, they expect you to give them honest updates of your progress. This includes informing them about your challenges; they’re in the best position to help you minimise its impact on your work. This is one great way international students maintain cordial relationships with supervisors.

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