Academic Quality Procedures Handbook

6. Student Support and Guidance

6.5 Personal Tutoring and Academic Guidance

Note: These are the minimum standards

It is Loughborough University policy that all students should have timetabled access to personal tutors. This is to ensure that appropriate advice and support is provided, student problems and concerns are quickly identified and causes of student withdrawal are minimised.

All Schools are expected to have effective and consistent support mechanisms in place, for both undergraduate and postgraduate taught students.

Schools should nevertheless seek to ensure that students do not regard the personal tutor system as in any way absolving them from recognising their own needs and taking responsibility for their own learning.

The University recognises that Schools will wish to make arrangements for personal tutoring to suit the curriculum and their own methods of learning and teaching. However all Schools should observe the following minimum requirements.

(These requirements are drafted with undergraduate students primarily in mind. More flexible arrangements may be appropriate for PGT students, but they too should accord with the spirit of the guidance.)

1. Each School/Department should publish its own policy on personal tutoring in its School/Departmental/Programme handbook

In addition Schools/Departments may wish to publish this information elsewhere and by other means, for example, the system may be described at the induction meeting, followed my meetings with individual tutors; induction materials; School/Departmental web page; a School/Departmental "Guide to Personal Tutoring"; Programme Handbooks; an introductory letter from personal tutors to all their new tutees; a Student "Log Book"; Staff Handbook.

2. All undergraduate students should be invited to attend a minimum of two scheduled, face-to-face meetings per year

  • For first year students, the first meeting should be scheduled to take place by week 1 of semester 1 and will typically take place during the induction process, with another meeting scheduled by the third week of semester 2 to discuss progress based on semester 1 marks.
  • Meetings with second year tutees should be scheduled within 3 weeks of their returning.
  • Arrangements for students in their third year or subsequent year may be more flexible, reflecting other sources of academic support available, e.g. project supervision.
  • Reasonable efforts should be made to ensure that students attend the meetings to which they have been invited.

3. Personal Tutors should keep retrievable records, written or electronic of all formal meetings with their students

  • These records should be accessible should the tutor be unavailable due to illness, study leave etc. and should take current Data Protection legislation into account.
  • Records of other meetings may be kept where it is agreed by the tutor and the student that matters discussed warrant such action.
  • Examples of current practice include: written records placed on student files which are accessed via the administrative officer; attendance card or paper form placed on student file; electronic tutorial record system (Co-Tutor) (http://co-tutor.lboro.ac.uk); copies of emails placed on student files; and meetings recorded in the student's log book.

4. Personal Tutors should be aware of procedures to be followed if students fail to attend scheduled meetings (for example, what efforts should be made to contact the student, who else should be alerted if the student is not responding, what checks should be made on the student's work).

5. The School/Departmental Policy should include, as a minimum, the following information:

  • A statement that each new student is assigned a personal tutor on arrival, and where information about who a student's personal tutor is can be found; for example reference might be made to departmental notice boards or web pages.
  • A description of how students meet their personal tutor for the first time, and the nature of arrangements for subsequent meetings; the description might include reference to a booking system for meetings, regular 'surgery' hours, or the use of email for setting up meetings or resolving issues online.
  • A description of how personal tutoring arrangements differ as students progress form year one of the programme (if appropriate); for example, while arrangements for first year students may be formally timetabled by the tutor, second and third year students may be encouraged to take more responsibility for maintaining regular contact.
  • A statement about the availability of personal tutors; individual tutors should publish times when they are available and times for meetings; for example by use of School/Departmental notice boards or web pages, student pigeon holes, email to tutees or notices on their office doors.
  • Information about other sources of guidance and advice within Schools/Departments and the University at large. Students should be made aware of other School/Departmental arrangements, such as the availability of Year Tutor, Programme Tutor and other staff, including the Dean of School/Head of Department, to whom they may speak as an alternative to the personal tutor of they so wish. Students should be told where they can find out about University-wide support services such as the Centre for Faith and Spirituality, the Careers Network, the Counselling and Disability Service, the English Language Support Service, etc.
  • A statement about the confidentiality of meetings with personal tutors, with the proviso that matters that have to be dealt with officially may need, with the student's approval, to be referred on and/or placed 'on the record'.
  • A statement about how, in exceptional circumstances, a student may ask his/her Programme Director for the Personal Tutor to be changed. This may include the opportunity to pursue the matter with the Dean of School/Head of Department if an initial request to the Programme Director does not succeed.

6. Where a student is contemplating leave of absence, a change of programme or withdrawal, the personal tutor should explain any implications for assessments and accumulation of credit towards the degree or other qualifications, and discuss the possibilities for transfer to other programmes or to part-time study if appropriate.

  • The personal tutor should also discuss whether it would be appropriate to provide the student with some reading whilst on leave of absence, to provide support and advice on preparation for their return to study and monitor their progress during the first few months following their return.
  • If a School/Department judges it inappropriate for a personal tutor to provide such information and advice, then the personal tutor must know to whom such a student should be referred - e.g. the programme director.

7. Schools/Departments should have a clear procedure for reassigning students when the existing personal tutor takes leave of absence (e.g. sabbatical leave, long term sickness), or leaves the University.

8. School/Departmental systems of personal tutoring should be monitored and evaluated by the departmental learning and teaching committee with the results feeding into the Programme Review Procedure.

9. School/Departments should provide adequate support for their personal tutors to ensure that they know where and how to seek additional advice on student problems.

These should include subject experts, other experienced colleagues, and the University's wider support services, depending on individual circumstances.

 

10th April 2014