Progress support process (PSP)

If you are not progressing or engaging as expected, it is essential that problems are identified, and support put in place as quickly as possible.

Your supervisors play a crucial role in supporting you through your research degree, and will offer advice and guidance on your research and progres during your regular supervision meetings. As part of the normal supervisory process, your supervisors will provide feedback on your work and discuss any concerns they have about your academic progress. Appropriate academic support, milestones and clear expectations should be agreed as part of the supervisory meetings.

Any issues that impact your progress or engagement should be addressed at the time they arise, so that you can be supported as needed. Delays can turn relatively simple challenges into much more complex ones and can prevent you from getting crucial and timely advice and help.

Graduate Schools and other specialist support and wellbeing services around the University can help support you through a range of situations. Information about these services can be found on the Support and wellbeing page of the For Students website. If you encounter unforeseen difficulties during your study you may wish to apply for a period of authorised absence, suspension or extension of study. The Taking time out from your research page on the For Students website has more information and guidance on these options. The Director of Postgraduate Research Studies and Graduate School can advise on what action may be needed and co-ordinate with other services to ensure the correct support is put in place (including support from Disability Services and Student Counselling and Wellbeing). 

If concerns with your academic progress continue, the Progress support process (PSP) may be instigated as a supportive measure, to help you to get back on track with your research. The PSP provides a framework to ensure that you are informed of any risks to academic progress at an early stage and with an emphasis on early targeted support to get back on track with your research and successfully complete. The PSP allows for discussion of all necessary factors , such as:

  • academic progress
  • University regulations
  • health considerations
  • personal/family considerations
  • immigration advice
  • compliance with Home Office regulations
  • financial considerations (including effects on any sponsorship).

The PSP supersedes the former Unsatisfactory Academic Performance Procedure (UAPP) from August 2022.

The PSP has four stages.  If progress is deemed to be satisfactory again at the end of any stage, the process will conclude; it is not compulsory to go through all four stages.

Please note this this is a summary of the process, for full details please refer to the PSP policy (PDF).

Stage A: PSP support meeting

This is normally a meeting with yourself, the DPGRS, your supervisor, and may also include a member of the Graduate School. The meeting will aim to:

  • Discuss concerns 
  • Identify any mitigating circumstances 
  • Identify any support needed

After the meeting, there are several possible outcomes:

  • If progress returns to normal, the PSP will conclude
  • A period of suspension, extension or authorised absence may be recommended
  • Other support or adjustments may be recommended; either as the conclusion of PSP or linked to a further period of support (stage B)
  • A period of Additional Academic and/or Pastoral Support is recommended (stage B)

Stage B: Period of additional academic/pastoral support 

This is a short period of targeted support and closer monitoring, intended to get you back on track.  A support plan will be agreed, with clear expectations and action points. At the end of the period there are several possible outcomes:

  • Progress is satisfactory and the process is concluded
  • A further period of support is recommended
  • Stage C of the PSP is recommended
  • A period of suspension, extension or authorised absence is recommended

Stage C: PSP review and final meetings

The first part of stage C is the Review meeting which aims to identify ways to address the concerns and to support your future progress. The meeting will review progress against the support action plan and your supervisor and DPGRS will discuss with you any continued academic engagement or progress concerns. You will be given an opportunity to raise any mitigating circumstances. A new action plan for progress will be agreed, along with a date for review. 

At the end of stage C is the final review meeting. This is an academic review of progress against the action plan and milestones, with a decision taken about continuation of the programme, recommendation to withdraw or transfer to a lower degree.  If progress is being made but issues are not fully resolved, the decision may be deferred, however this can only happen once. 

Stage D: University review stage and appeal

If withdrawal or transfer to MPhil has been recommended, this will be reviewed by the Graduate Board’s Progression and Examination Group. The Group (or the Chair) will wish to see evidence that the PSP has been followed and that the academic decision has been clearly justified. 

PGRs have the right of appeal following an adverse academic decision under the arrangements set out in the Appeals Procedure on the Secretariat website. The appeal must reach the University within 20 working days of the PGR receiving formal confirmation of the Progression and Examination Group decision. PGRs considering submitting an appeal are strongly encouraged to seek independent support from the Leeds University Union (LUU) Advice team.