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Ombuds Process for Doctoral Candidates and Supervisors

OmbudsverfahrenThe University of Freiburg has a central ombuds process to support doctoral candidates and their supervisors in resolving conflicts arising from the supervision relationship or work on the dissertation. The process is strictly confidential and consists of two levels, making it as easy as possible for supervisors and doctoral candidates to overcome their inhibitions and speak openly about problems early on. The process may be broken off at the request of the person seeking advice at any time.

The first place to turn to in the case of a conflict is generally the ombuds office, which is staffed with two GraCe employees who are trained in mediation and have many years of experience with conflict counseling. They discuss the conflict situation and possible ways of resolving it with the person seeking advice to clarify the matter. This discussion may also involve techniques for strengthening personal skills and practicing communication strategies in preparation for difficult conversations.

If the problem cannot be resolved at the first level, the next step is to call in one of the two ombudspersons or their deputies, all of whom are retired professors of the University of Freiburg. They too begin by holding one-on-one discussions with the person seeking advice to form an impression of the problem situation. If the person gives his or her consent, the ombudspersons may then establish contact with the other parties involved and, if necessary, organize a discussion with them. It is also possible to contact the ombudspersons directly without first contacting the ombuds office. All parties involved are supported in their search for an amicable resolution to the conflict. If none is found, the ombudspersons may make recommendations to one or the other party.

In cases of suspected academic misconduct, the ombudsperson for academic self-regulation provides advice; contact details and further information are available here.

Ombuds Office and Ombudspersons

Ombuds office


Ombudspersons and deputies


Case Numbers and Typical Problem Areas

Reporting period 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023

  • 19 people seeking advice, including 13 female doctoral candidates, five male doctoral candidates and one supervisor
  • Typical problem areas (at least three cases):
  1. Serious delays in pre-assessment and review of the doctoral thesis
  2. Inappropriate, harsh, unappreciative criticism of doctoral candidates
  3. Passing on supervisors' own performance pressure to doctoral candidates in an inappropriate manner
  4. Lack of support from supervisors in conflicts with other people from the same working group


Further Advising Services

For employees of the University of Freiburg (websites in German)

For employees of the Medical Center - University of Freiburg (websites in German)

For matriculated doctoral candidates



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