Universiteit Leiden

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Graduate School of Science

Confidential counsellors

Leiden University wants to create a safe and stimulating environment for everyone. However, you may experience issues at work that you cannot solve yourself. Your first point of contact for such situations is your supervisor. If you feel you cannot talk about it with your supervisor, you can turn to a confidential counsellor. This page covers who you can approach for which kind of issue.

Issues regarding (finishing) your PhD

It is possible that you experience issues related to your PhD that you cannot discuss with your supervisor directly. If so, you can contact our faculty’s confidential counsellor for PhD candidates, Prof. Jan Boersema. You can turn to Prof. Boersema with anything you think creates an obstruction to a timely completion of your thesis. For instance, if you are not satisfied with the quality of supervision, or meeting frequency; if you have a conflict with your supervisor about work or teaching load; if you feel there’s an excessive pressure on publishing. Even if you think your problem is minor, you are still encouraged to meet with him, as it might prevent this small problem from turning into a bigger obstacle.

If you decide to meet with Prof. Boersema, he will listen to you and give you advice on how to deal with things. He will offer support and could contact your supervisor if you like (only with your consent). He will not act as a mediator, but he can accompany you and provide assistance in meetings on your request. With many years of experience as a PhD advisor, he will be able to offer very useful and practical advice.  

Who is Jan Boersema?

Jan Boersema is a Professor at the Leiden Institute for Environmental Science (CML). He received his PhD at the University of Groningen, served as an advisor to the minister of the Environment and was appointed professor in 2002 at the VU, Amsterdam. He’s had affiliations with Leiden University from 1994 and became professor ‘Principles of Environmental Sciences’ in 2013. He has many years of experience in advising PhD candidates, and he is therefore the right person to turn to for advice regarding your PhD. In his role as a confidential counsellor, he is independent and observes confidentiality.


If you'd like to meet with Prof. Boersema, you can either send him an email (boersema@cml.leidenuniv.nl) or call him (+31 71 527 5650). He is usually able to schedule a meeting with you within a week. It is also possible to contact a confidential counsellor from a different Graduate School.

Academic Integrity

If you suspect a violation of the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity 2018 that you cannot take up with your supervisor, you can contact the university’s confidential advisor on Academic Integrity, Professor Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade. The Confidential Advisor is your initial point of contact for questions or circumstances related to academic integrity and any suspicions you may have about a (former) member of staff of Leiden University. The Confidential Advisor is bound to confidentiality and is independent of the Academic Integrity Committee, which investigates the validity of complaints.

The main task of the Confidential Advisor is to give advice and to inform you about possible routes and procedures to be followed. The Confidential Advisor will assess the nature and seriousness of the suspected violations and explore possible courses of action together with you.

You can also choose to first discuss your questions or concerns with other appropriate parties, for example, close co-workers or the Scientific Director of the Institute. In all cases, it is possible to submit a complaint directly to the Academic Integrity Committee if the nature and urgency of the case warrant this.

The procedures relating to complaints about academic integrity and the position of the Confidential Adviser on Academic Ingegrity at Leiden University are set out in the Leiden University Regulation on Complaints regarding Academic Integrity. For more information see the university page.

Unacceptable behavior

The Regulations on Complaints Relating to Unacceptable Behavior explain what you and the university should do if you are confronted with unacceptable behavior such as (sexual) intimidation, aggression, violence, discrimination, hostility, neglect or disrespect. If you experience unacceptable behavior, you can contact the confidential counsellor for unacceptable behavior, Piet de Boer, to discuss the problem in confidence and seek possible solutions.

The confidential counsellor for unacceptable behavior can:

  • Advise you on and support you with your complaint or problem and can help you find a solution and lodge a complaint.
  • Provide guidance if you want to try mediation or if you want to lodge a complaint with the Complaints Committee for Unacceptable Behavior.
  • Refer you to experts on preventing and dealing with unacceptable behavior.

You can contact Piet de Boer by phone (06 2504 2886 (weekdays 9.00 till 17.00) or e-mail (pdeboer@winstonpartners.nl).

Or contact Marieke Bruning by phone (06-52658853) or e-mail (mbrunings@winstonpartners.nl).

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