Personal and Academic Support for Students

Personal and academic support is an integral part of our students’ experience and is pivotal to supporting our students to succeed and reach their full potential. In order to continue to provide high quality support, policy and practice were reviewed during 2014-15 and in July 2015 Senate approved new Principles of Personal and Academic Support, which can be found below or downloaded on the right.

The Principles of Personal and Academic Support aim to more explicitly state the University’s commitment to the provision of academic and pastoral support; improve the equity and consistency of provision within and across departments; and acknowledge that different departmental structures and sizes require flexibility in where responsibilities lie and how support is made available.  The principles apply to all taught students including those studying with us from abroad and ERASMUS students, regardless of the time they are with us.  Students on dual programmes should be provided with personal and academic support, including a named academic tutor, from within each department.

Principle 1: Equitable access for all taught students (UG, PGT, DL and PT)

Students have different needs and preferences, and should not be treated in the same way; however, all taught students should have access to the same levels of personal and academic support, including a named academic tutor, and understand what minimum contact they should expect. Departments should actively monitor the availability of and engagement with the support available.

Principle 2: Communication of benefits, roles and responsibilities

All students and staff in the department should understand the benefits of personal and academic support, and the shared responsibilities of all of those involved from within the department and across Professional Services. Departmental structures should promote efficient and effective administration of personal and academic support, enabling academics or staff with specialist skills to focus on their area of expertise. Where pastoral care is separated out from academic support, this should be made explicit to students. Communication activities should underpin Principles 3 and 4.

Principle 3: Proactive relationships and shared responsibilities

Departmental structures and responsibilities should provide continuity of support, and enable tutors and tutees to establish effective and long lasting relationships that promote positive engagement within the academic community. Departments should strive to be proactive and anticipate the needs of students. Students should ensure that they are active participants and seek to make positive changes in their experience as learners and for success in learning.

Principle 4: Promoting success for all students

Personal and academic support is for all students, not just those facing issues or in need of help; it is integral to the student experience and should empower students to succeed in their studies and achieve their full potential. General advice and guidance should be provided alongside effective signposting to specific skills development opportunities. Students should have the opportunity to review and reflect on feedback with a member of academic staff, in doing so progressively developing students’ skills and their potential to build on knowledge and progress successfully.

Principle 5: Effective provision of pastoral care and referral to specialist support

Departmental approaches to the provision of pastoral care must enable staff to identify student support needs and refer students to specialist support services either within or outside the department. Advice and support should be provided with regards to extenuating circumstances that may affect engagement or progression. Departments should identify common issues being faced by specific student groups and adjust the provision of or access to support as needed.

Departmental Guidance on the Principles of Personal and Academic Support

To assist departments in being able to meet each of these principles and understand what is expected of them and their students, a guide has been produced known as ‘Implementing Personal and Academic Support: Baseline Expectations’. This may be downloaded from the box on the right and provides:

  • A clear articulation of how principles can be achieved;
  • A tool for departmental self-assessment of the extent to which the principles are being met and delivered consistently to students;
  • A pathway towards an enhanced offer of personal and academic support and recognition of good practice;
  • A means by which provision can be reviewed and reflected upon at any point in time within Faculties, departments and programmes;
  • Raised awareness amongst Heads of Departments of their students’ experience of personal and academic support within their department and on their programmes.

This document is intended for use within a department in order to establish and embed the principles of personal and academic support; it is not intended as a student facing communication tool. Senate agreed a transition period and all departments are required to fully meet the baseline expectations by 2016-17.

Additional Support

The Toolkit for Learning and Teaching provides guidance and examples of good practice, on the implementation of all policies.

Elevate runs a training session on personal tutoring and Supporting the Supporters run a range of sessions to help academics support students.