Ask the Student Ombudsmen

Frida Holmdahl and Sofia Johnsson, Student Ombudsmen at the Student Union. Photo: Miriam Bratt

The Student Ombudsmen will answer all of your study related questions. So if you are pondering on a question, send them to [email protected] anonymously and get answers.

Give feedback

Hello! I just finished one of my courses and I want to give both good and bad feedback. How do I do that? What is the best way? Student Hi! Thank you for your question! Stockholm University should give everyone who are participating, or have finished a course a chance to communicate their opinion and experiences in a course evaluation. Information about how and when you can do this, should be given at the beginning of a course. You should also be given the opportunity to do this anonymously. The result should be compiled, analyzed and then be communicated back to the students 10 weeks after the course ended. It´s the head of your department who is responsible to provide this information. Furthermore, the result should also be seen as a foundation for the next time the course is given. Kind regards Frida Holmdahl 

How many chances to take an exam?

Hi, I am wondering how many times I am allowed to take an exam?

Hi, In the course syllabus there should be information regarding potential limitations of how many times the students can take an exam. It is stipulated by law (Högskoleförordningen 6 kap. 21§) that a student is to be given at least five chances to take an exam. If you have failed an exam two times with the same examiner, you normally have the right to get a new examiner. Kind regards, Josefin Velander.

Lost exams

Hi! I recently took an exam and I just got an email from the department saying that my and several other students’ exams got lost. They also let me know that I have to rewrite the exam, and it’s already next week. I’m really upset about this, I already wrote the exam, can they really make me rewrite it? Can you help me?

Hi! I understand your frustration and it is very unfortunate when exams go missing. I’m afraid that mistakes sometimes are made, and according to current regulations the responsible department is required to urgently arrange a new opportunity to do the exam for the affected students, preferably within a week from when it is discovered. The examiner is not allowed to pass a student only because the examination got lost. It is important however that you as students receive correct information. If you want to I can contact the department and discuss with them if they need to look over their routines handling exams. Josefin Velander

The students in my group are lazy

Hi! I’m writing to you because I feel a bit frustrated. I’m on a course where my grade is based on a paper that I have to write with two other people. We were randomly assigned to our groups by our teacher. The problem is that I know that the two students in my group are kind of lazy. I’m afraid that either I’ll have to do the whole paper by myself while the other two don’t do as much or that I’ll get a lower grade because of their lack of effort. Can you help me out?

Hi, I can understand if you feel frustrated, but I have some good news for you. According to Stockholm University’s rules and regulations group examinations should allow an individual evaluation of each student’s contribution. This means that your grade should be based solely on your performance in the paper. My advice is to have a meeting with your group, where you can discuss your expectations about the paper and the amount of effort that should be involved. It’s also a good idea to divide up the work, so that each member knows what they are expected to do and everyone is on the same page. Dividing up the work is also beneficial if problems should occur in the future and the group has to split up.
Best regards,
Nouseibah Elobeid

My teacher gives me no response

I have some questions for a teacher and I’ve been trying to get a hold of him for a long time. I have sent him multiple emails and gotten no response. In attempt to get in touch with him I also contacted the student expedition at my institution to see if they could help me. For some reason they haven’t replied to me either. It’s really frustrating and I’m wondering if this is allowed. Student Hi! According to Swedish law authorities have to respond to questions as soon as possible. This means that employees at Stockholm University are obligated to answer questions as soon as they can. The definition of “as soon as possible” can of course vary. But the point is that they ought to respond. This law is also emphasized by the general guidelines for examination at Stockholm University (allmänna råd för examination vid Stockholms universitet). been offered to you, then you have the right to claim a written grade justification. Best regards, Nouseibah Elobeid

Changes in the schedule

Hi, I am taking a course right now where I was given the schedule only one week before the course started, which has made my planning difficult. Now the teacher has told us that they will change time and date of some of the lectures. The situation stresses me.

  Hi Jacob, from what you are describing I understand that you are feeling stressed. According to regulations at Stockholm University information on schedule, course literature et cetera should be available at least one month before the course starts. Changes in the schedule should be avoided, but if they are necessary information about the changes are to be given to the students as soon as possible. If you wish, I can help you address the issue with your department.
Kind regards,
Erika Samuelsson

What can I do to affect my grade?

Hi, I am an international student who is about to finish my studies but I have encountered some problems with my final thesis. Everything went smoothly during the writing process and my supervisor was very positive and once said I deserved a B. During the examination however the examiner was critical to several parts of the thesis and finally gave me a F. I am shocked and feel betrayed by my supervisor. Can I appeal or do anything to affect my grade?

  Hi David, the experience you have is unfortunately something we repeatedly see examples of. The main problem in your situation is that a discrepancy has emerged between the examiner and the supervisor. The Swedish Higher Education Authority has given criticism on this matter – the occurence that an examiner demands comprehensive changes of a thesis when a supervisor has given a thesis clearance is highly problematic.

Unfortunately it’s not possible to appeal a grade. You can however request your examiner to review your grade. Make sure then that you base your line of reasoning, as to why you deserve another grade, on the grading criteria for the course. With regards,
Yohanna Burman

”The status of syllabi?”

Dear Student Ombudsmen! What is the status of syllabi? I’m attending a course and was particularly interested in a minor part of the course where we were going to obtain introduction to a specific method. I saw this in the syllabus before I applied and got especially interested in the course for this reason. Now the professor responsible for the course says this part of the course has been replaced. Can he really do that? All best! Richard Dear Richard! You are perfectly right. The information in syllabi is legally binding and must be followed by the professor in charge. If the department wants to change any part of the course they can only do so after a revision of the syllabus and thereafter put this into practice at the earliest next term. I suggest you talk to the professor and remind him of this and/or talk to the director of studies at your department. If you encounter resistance don’t hesitate to come back to us and we can contact the department. With regards, Yohanna Burman

“Can I object the questions?”

Hello Student Ombudsmen, I took an exam last week. Out of eight questions in total there were two questions on a matter that had not been mentioned neither during lectures nor seminars. I checked the literature afterwards and it is only briefly mentioned in a chapter that we never were given any specific reading instructions to. Can I object these questions somehow? I understand your frustration, and that one would think that the questions on an exam would mainly reflect what has already been pointed out in a seminar or in a reading instruction. However, it is up to the examiner to test the students understanding and knowledge of the studied subject in accordance with the grading criteria. So there is not much to be done, I am afraid. Kind regards, erika samuelsson

”Chances to take an exam?”

Hi, I am wondering how many times I am allowed to take an exam? Hi, It is stipulated by law (Högskoleförordningen 6 kap. 21§) that a student is to be given at least five chances to take an exam. If you have failed an exam two times with the same examiner, you normally have the right to get a new examiner. Kind regards, Erika Samuelsson

”I can’t wait until the retake of my exam”

I failed an exam in mid January. Now it turns out that the retake is in August. I can’t wait that long. Hi, There is no clear regulation on when a retake should take place. However, the Parliamentary Ombudsmen (JO) has stated that two months between the examination and the retake is considered to be too long. If you want, I could contact the director of studies and see if there is anything to be done. Kind regards, Erika Samuelsson

“Syllabus in English”

I am an international master student at SU. I find it hard to get hold of course information and syllabi in English. The majority of my fellow students are international students whereas it seems as relevant to give us course information in English. What rules apply here? Thank you! Most thankful for help Hi Angela. In University policies it is stated that syllabi must be performed in Swedish but can also be translated into in English, it’s not an obligation though. The name of the course must always be written in both English and Swedish in the syllabus however. By that, your department has not done anything wrong even though I agree with you that it would be most relevant that the syllabi also were translated into English. Make sure you put this in your evaluations. With regards, Yohanna Burman

Question about study fees

I’m an international student at Stockholm University. I’m admitted to a two years master programme but I would like to transfer to a one year programme. I don’t have to pay for the two years programme but when I’m asking the Department to transfer me to the one year programme they demand money. How can this be right? Thanks for your clarification! Dear International student, tuition fees and an application fee for non-EU/EEA students were adopted in 2011. The fees referred to studies beginning autumn semester 2011. If you were admitted to a programme before the autumn semester 2011 you don’t have to pay study fees but if you now transfer and get admitted to a new programme the study fee rule apply as long as you are a non-EU/EEA student. If you have a job in Sweden or are married in Sweden and by that have a residence permit you don’t have to pay study fees though. If this applies to you, make sure you hand in the right documents about this to the University. If you are an exchange student you are not supposed to pay the fees either. With regards, Yohanna Burman  

”Finding it hard to adjust to the Swedish study system”

”Finding it hard to adjust to the Swedish study system” Dear Student Ombudsmen,I am an exchange student and I am finding it hard adjusting to the study system here in Sweden. Is there any help to get or to learn the ways of exams here? Alien and confused Hi Alien and confused.  Being new in a different system is always hard, especially when the new system requires performances of some kind. The University offers support in these situations through its student services. The primary function for English speaking students is the academic writing but they can also assist with study techniques and study methods. You can find more information about it on the university’s webpage on student services (Study with us). Sincerely, Shewen Aziz

”Accused of plagiarism”

Now writing my final thesis my supervisor has reported me to the Vice-Chancellor claiming the thesis is a case of plagiarism. This was a shock since my supervisor hasn’t spoken to me about this in any of our appointments. I wasn’t even finished with the text. What are my rights and what can I do? Most thankful for help Hello. The Vice-Chancellor's Office will contact you and give you the opportunity to hand in a written statement. I suppose your supervisor had a draft. A supervisor has a responsibility to give feedback on drafts rather than to report it. This is valuable information for the statement. One of us Student Ombudsman can assist you in writing the statement as well as accompany you to a meeting with the Disciplinary Board if the Vice-Chancellor refers the case. With regards Yohanna Burman

”How do the grades work?”

Hi Student Ombudsmen. I am an exchange student and new to the Swedish system. I just received my grade and don’t understand how it was marked. Is there any way I could find that information? Confused and pondering Hi Confused and pondering. I will try to explain how the grading system works within Stockholm University. All courses have grading criterions. These­ are to be given to the students in the beginning of each course and are binding. What this means is that examiner are to grade according to the requirements set in the grading criterions. The criterions should state requirements for each grade and goals to achieve. The grading criterion is not to be confused with the learning outcomes that govern study goals for the course. Sincerely Shewen Aziz