Chapter 8 - Academic Personal Tutoring: code of good practice

  1. Introduction

    This Code outlines the minimum requirements for Academic Personal Tutors and Senior Tutors. It should be read in conjunction with the relevant Tutor Guide produced annually by the Academic Development office. Please also see the Health, Wellbeing and Support for Study, Mitigation, and Academic Conduct and Practice procedures.
  2. Purpose of Academic-led Tutoring Provision
    1. The intention of academic-led tutoring provision is to ensure that each student is assigned a named academic contact within the College who they can talk to about their academic, personal and professional development. This should include conversations around the themes of transition, progress and realising ambition.
    2. Every student on a taught programme of study will have an Academic Personal Tutor (terminology may vary depending on the discipline). Support for the academic and personal development and welfare of postgraduate research students is covered by the Code of Practice – Supervision of Postgraduate Research Students.
    3. Although the role of Academic Personal Tutor should be distinguished from that of tutors on the programme of study, it is likely that an Academic Personal Tutor will also be one of the student’s programme tutors. The role of Academic Personal Tutor involves providing academic advice and support to the student across the programme of study and reviewing wider academic progress. Their role extends to providing referral guidance to students to sources of specialist support (e.g. for academic matters; emotional health and wellbeing issues; academic and language skills support; careers and professional advice etc).
    4. The Academic Personal Tutor is a student’s first port of call in matters relating to students’ academic progress, personal development, and welfare. The Academic Personal Tutor is not an expert in terms of support and interventions but will know about support services that are available to students to help them engage with the Students' Guild and FXU, and to access more specialist help from other services on the relevant campus and in the wider community where relevant.
  3. Responsibilities of Academic Personal Tutors
    1. Academic Personal Tutors should meet individually with their undergraduate tutees at least five times per year;  and PGT students should have at least three tutor meetings per year. These meetings can be complemented by academic group tutorials.
    2. Academic Personal Tutors should ensure that their first one-to-one meeting with new undergraduate student tutees is held by the end of their first two weeks of study.
    3. Tutorial meetings may take the form of one-to-one meetings or held in groups as appropriate to the discipline and depending on the purpose of the tutorial.
    4. Academic Personal Tutors should also set aside designated time each week during term-time to be available to see tutees without prior appointment. These arrangements should be clearly communicated to students at the start of the academic year. . Individual tutorial hours are not intended to be in addition to office hours but to more clearly indicate the times that tutors are available to tutees for individual tutor meetings.
    5. Academic Personal Tutors are responsible for calling a tutorial meeting where there are reports of unsatisfactory attendance or performance from module conveners or in the event of any other cause for concern.
    6. Academic Personal Tutors should inform students by email of the purpose of any tutorials and of any preparations that the student should complete in advance of a tutorial. Tutorials should be scheduled at appropriate times during the year to review progress and to provide advice and guidance as necessary.
    7. A record should be kept by the Academic Personal Tutor of each meeting and any follow-up actions agreed.
    8. Academic Personal Tutors will be familiar with the University’s guidance on Confidentiality and Data Protection. Where a student raises matters in confidence, this confidence must be respected, unless there is a risk of harm to the student or others. The student should be strongly advised to seek any further support as appropriate.
    9. Academic Personal Tutors should support tutees in considering their academic and personal objectives, and strategies of self-regulating of their learning to achieve these. 
    10. Where an Academic Personal Tutor is concerned that a student is at risk of immediate harm or of harming others, they must explain to the student that they have to report it and then contact report it to the Head of Student Services. Academic Personal Tutors must be informed of the actions they need to take, should a student be at serious risk of harm, or of harming others. In an emergency, dial x2222 for Estate Patrol (Exeter) or 01326 255875/01326 254444 (Cornwall), and/or contact emergency services directly by dialling 999. If a student discloses harm in the past and are not at immediate threat, this can remain confidential.
  4. Responsibilities of students
    1. Students are regarded as active partners in their learning and development at the University, and a degree of professionalism is expected from them. It is therefore expected that students will attend all scheduled meetings requested by Academic Personal Tutors, or agree an alternative time as convenient. Students should be prepared for tutorial discussions and respond to requests for information as required by the College.
    2. Students are also encouraged to be proactive in identifying and accessing any relevant skills training offered by the College or the University, as appropriate and to take note of, and respond to, feedback and guidance from tutors.
    3. Where a student’s personal or other circumstances are impacting on their academic progress it is expected that they will inform their Academic Personal Tutor who can discuss options for support, advice and guidance.
    4. Students should inform Student Records of any changes in address or similar personal details by logging into the student portal and clicking the student record tab to amend contact details.
    5. Students should check their University email at least once per day for messages from the Academic Personal Tutor and other members of staff.
  5. Responsibilities of the College or Partner Institution
    1. The College (or Partner Institution) should make available to students and staff clear information concerning the provision of academic personal tutoring and support for students’ personal development within the College.
    2. The College should be mindful of the University’s Diversity and Equality Policy when allocating staff, and considering any requests from students to change their Academic Personal Tutor.
    3. It is recognised that administrators and technicians often provide a listening ear for students outside the tutorial framework. It is therefore important that Colleges/partners ensure that they, too, are aware of this Code.
    4. The College must ensure that an appropriate time allocation is made for Academic Personal Tutor and Senior Tutor duties when considering workload models.
  6. Senior Tutor
    1. Each College should have at least one Senior Tutor or equivalent key contact, who can provide induction guidance, support and resources to Academic Personal Tutors in the College including, where appropriate, schedules, suggested agendas and checklists to maximise consistency in the student experience of tutoring in a College.
    2. The Senior Tutor should be able to signpost Academic Personal Tutors to additional sources of support and guidance in the management of more complex cases such as those involving disciplinary and Health, Wellbeing and Support for Study. The Senior Tutor will in many cases, take on more complex and difficult cases where expertise is required. The Senior Tutor is not a source of professional expertise such as that of a counsellor.
    3. Senior Tutors are expected to liaise and share practice with colleagues in similar roles across the University through participation in the  , facilitated by a central coordinator in Academic Development. Senior Tutors are also expected to work with SSLCs and to provide updates on academic personal tutoring to College Education Strategy Meetings.
  7. Allocation of Academic Personal Tutors
    1. Colleges are responsible for allocating an Academic Personal Tutor to all taught students and recording these in the student record system.
    2. Colleges should also provide clear, transparent information to students on how to change their Academic Personal Tutor, without the need for students to give a reason for their request.
    3. Unless there is a specific need to provide two tutors, Combined Honours students, and FCH students, should be allocated only one Academic  Personal Tutor. However, there should also be a named contact in the other College where this applies, to provide specialist guidance in relation to module choice and any other issues arising that are related to the other College. In the case of such students, Academic Personal Tutors may need to liaise with the named contact in the tutee’s other College from time to time.
  8. Support for Academic Personal Tutors
    1. Colleges must ensure that staff allocated to undertake academic personal tutoring are properly trained and aware of the relevant learning and development opportunities available to them, including the University’s Academic Personal Tutoring course, online tutor training, ELE resources and Tutor Guide and resources on the University Academic Development website.
    2. Colleges must ensure that Academic Personal Tutors and students are aware of the University’s Health Wellbeing and Support for Study procedure and to the information on Mitigation in the Teaching Quality Assurance Manual.
    3. Colleges must also provide Academic Personal Tutors with basic information about their tutees at the outset of the programme and ensure access to, or ability to receive information about their tutees’ academic progress.
    4. Academic Personal Tutors should be prepared to write a reference for the tutee unless alternative provision is made by a College employability officer or other individual who knows the tutee.
  9. Monitoring and enhancement
    1. Colleges should monitor students’ attendance at scheduled tutorials and have in place standard procedures for following up students who fail to attend such pre-arranged meetings.
    2. Colleges should also monitor tutoring through reviewing the results of University surveys, as well as through other College monitoring and evaluation processes, as appropriate. Academic personal tutoring should be a standing item on the agenda for SSLCs.
    3. At University level, the effectiveness of academic personal tutoring provision in Colleges will be monitored through quality processes such as the Annual Student Experience Review and inclusion of questions relating to Academic Personal Tutor support in University surveys.
    4. The Senior Tutor Forum will produce a yearly commentary to Taught Faculty Board, identifying progress and issues regarding academic-led tutoring. The commentary may also refer to the appropriateness of structures; roles and responsibilities; allocation of tutors to tutees; workload; attendance monitoring, student feedback, observations regarding general trends, and examples of good practice.

Last reviewed August 2019

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