The vice-chancellor may decide that a doctoral student who neglects his or her obligations has supervision and other resources withdrawn. In exceptional cases, a doctoral student can be assessed as being unsuitable and may even be expelled from the programme.

A doctoral student who has not succeeded in completing the points named in the individual study plan must discuss this with his or her supervisor. It may be necessary to revise the plan so that it is more realistic.

If a doctoral student significantly neglects his or her obligations as stated in the individual study plan, the vice-chancellor may decide to withdraw supervision and other resources from the student. The doctoral student and supervisor are entitled to make statements before this decision is made. The assessment shall be based on their statements and other available information, and must also take into consideration how well the higher education institution (HEI) has fulfilled its obligations according to the study plan. The decision shall be in writing and with a motivation.

For people employed on doctoral studentships or who receive doctoral grants, resources may not be withdrawn during an ongoing appointment, which runs for one or a maximum of two years at a time. When the decision has been made, resources are withdrawn as soon as the appointment ends.

Decisions to withdraw resources may be appealed

A vice-chancellor’s decision to withdraw resources from a doctoral student may be appealed to the Higher Education Appeals Board, in accordance with Chapter 12, section 2, paragraph 5 of the Higher Education Ordinance. However, the Appeals Board’s decision may not be appealed.

Higher Education Appeals Board

Even after the vice-chancellor’s decision to withdraw resources, the doctoral student still retains his or her place on the programme and may have the right to supervision returned after application to the vice-chancellor, if the vice-chancellor’s assessment is that the doctoral student, after a certain time period, is displaying results of the required scope and quality, or if the doctoral student makes it seem probable that he or she can fulfil his or her obligations. The doctoral student may also continue studying independently and then apply to present his or her thesis.

The decision to decline a request for the return of resources may be appealed.

Termination due to lack of funding

A person employed on a doctoral studentship can also, according to labour law, have their employment terminated due to a lack of funding. This is extremely unusual. The majority of HEIs ensure that doctoral students can complete their education. The period of notice depends on the length of employment, but is at least one month.

You can read more about terminating employment in the Employment Protection Act (LAS) and in the collective bargaining agreements that apply to all state employees.

Agreement on the Swedish Agency for Government Employers’ website (in Swedish)

Agreement-T on the Swedish Agency for Government Employers’s website (in Swedish)


In exceptional cases, a doctoral student may be expelled from a doctoral programme due to his or her unsuitability or inability to continue. According to the Higher Education Act, this can only occur in cases where the student suffers from mental illness, abuses alcohol or drugs, or has been found guilty of serious criminal acts – and only if there is a seen to be a risk that, during the programme, the student may injure valuable property or a person.

Issues relating to expulsion are tried by the Higher Education Expulsions Board (HAN). The Board’s decisions may be appealed to a general administrative court.

The Higher Education Expulsions Board

Page last updated 2017-09-01