The role and involvement of the External Advisor
The external advisor is an independent expert who has no formal ties with the promotor(s), co-promotor(s) or daily supervisor(s) of the PhD candidate. The external advisor is able to discuss the major aspects of the PhD project, but should also be able to handle confidential aspects of the PhD candidate. The PhD candidate decides, in consultation with the (co)promotor(s) and daily supervisor(s), who he/she would like to invite to act as external advisor. In general, the supervisor or promotor submits a request to the intended external advisor, but this invitation can of course also be send by the PhD candidate, if this is more appropriate. The choice for an external advisor should be indicated in the TSP.
The first introduction meeting between PhD and external advisor will be held within the first three months of the PhD appointment. This first meeting can be initiated by the promotor or supervisor, but the follow-up appointments are the responsibility of the PhD candidate.
The external advisor monitors the PhD candidate by discussing the progress of the project, his/her TSP, the way the PhD candidate is supervised and the “general well-being” of the PhD candidate. The PhD candidate and the external advisor will meet at least once per year, but maybe they prefer more frequent meetings. Together they decide what would be the most suitable way to establish their meetings. The external advisor could for instance participate in half year/yearly meetings in which the progress of the PhD project is discussed within the supervisory committee of the PhD candidate. Preferably the external advisor also has a separate meeting with the PhD candidate in which they discuss, amongst others, the supervision of the PhD candidate and his/her “general well-being”.
In case of problems, the PhD candidate can decide to contact the external advisor or the EPS secretariat. The external advisor may also consult the EPS secretariat. In all cases all information will be handled with strict confidentiality. No reports have to be made from the conversations between the PhD candidate and the external advisor, but we do ask the PhD candidate to write down the action points that were agreed upon and to put these in their Annual Progress Reports.
There is a list of example questions available that can be used in the meetings between the PhD candidate and the external advisor. You can find this list under EPS Documents.