Student Support Strategy

Executive Summary

This strategy for student support affirms the core purpose of student support in the
University community:

  • sets out a strategic vision for student support
  • summarises a number of relevant points relating to delivery mechanisms
  • is aligned with the University Strategic Plan.

1. Student Support Mission

The purpose of student support within the University community is to:

  • Enhance the overall (physical, psychological and social) wellbeing and opportunities for success of all students in the context of their academic studies
  • Enable every student to build sound relationships with other students, within academic departments and within the University as a whole, so contributing to a sense of belonging
  • Enable students to develop life skills as they progress through the University
  • Enhance the quality of the student experience and support recruitment, progression, retention and attainment
  • Enhance the reputation of the University in relation to its student services.

The strategy for student support is an important element in the overall delivery of ambition expressed in the University’s Strategic Plan to offer the highest quality student experience.

2. Strategic Vision for Student Support

Student support is a collaborative endeavour involving many areas of the University community. The following key players, working in partnership, provide a range of complementary services to underpin and enhance the student experience.

  • Academic Departments
  • Students’ Union
  • Sport Sheffield
  • Accommodation & Commercial Services (for residential student support)
  • University-wide support services (inc. Student Support Services, Security)

We aim to be clear about roles, responsibilities and boundaries of services, recognising student rights and responsibilities, and providing options to support student choice and to foster student engagement. See http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/sss for more information on student support services.

2.1 Academic Departments

Academic Departments deliver student support in line with the University’s Principles for Personal and Academic Support: http://www.shef.ac.uk/lets/pp/support/tutors. This emphasises the importance of students having induction meetings in departments and access to a named personal tutor with whom they will meet at least once p.a. for pastoral support. This includes acting as a first point of contact and a referral “gateway‟ to the wider array of student support available within the University. 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. Information regarding postgraduate research students and the role of the PGR supervisor can be found at https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/rs/supervisors/index.

All staff undertake mandatory training to be able to signpost effectively to the full range of student support services available across the University.

Academic departments need support from other stakeholders in effectively supporting students. Student Support Services play a key role in training and providing ongoing guidance for academic departments. A key component of this is the Supporting the Supporters programme for staff.

Goal – to deliver high quality support consistently across all departments with strong professional input from specialist student support services.

2.2 The Students’ Union

The role of the Union of Students in student support is focussed both on community building activities such as societies, student activities and volunteering, and on direct support services like the University Nursery and the Student Advice Centre. The Union of Students also has a prominent role in coordinating activities in the residential setting. The aim is both to make effective connections between services offered in the residences and the provision on central campus, as well as to facilitate residential student activities and representation, with an emphasis on supporting the whole student community.

Goal – to continue to develop student-led activities in the context of the University’s overall student support strategy.

2.3 University Support Services

The role of University-wide services, in particular the Student Support Services, is principally to deliver centralised support direct to students, whether generically through services such as University Health Service, or particularly via services for specific student groups.

Student Support Services will play a key role in supporting health and wellbeing for the student population including support for transition, disability, social inclusion, progress and attainment, mental health and wellbeing, access to information and financial support. Support is available for all students including those in private residential accommodation and students studying off-campus. Where appropriate this support focuses on individual students, when particular issues arise. A secondary – but equally important – function is to identify and actively support colleagues elsewhere in the University (such as personal tutors and departmental administrators) who support individual students in their own context. This training, guidance and support function is delivered through a range of staff-facing services, in particular the Supporting the Supporters programme.

Goal – to deliver high quality services within the context of a diverse student population, with a focus on health and wellbeing and academic attainment, taking a central role in training and guidance on student support issues across the institution.

2.4 Sport Sheffield

The role of Sport Sheffield is to provide a range of programmes and opportunities to support student health and wellbeing. This includes offering opportunities for regular physical activity and active lifestyles to support physical and mental health; and supporting our elite athletes competing at national and international level whilst continuing their studies. Alongside this, Sport Sheffield provide training and development opportunities to aid student employability and skills and work to build a sense of community and belonging.

Goal - to deliver a high quality service to all students through sport and physical activity to enhance the student experience, and to support other key players to support our students.

2.5 Accommodation and Commercial Services

Delivery of support in the student residences is the responsibility of Accommodation and Commercial Services. Support is peer-led at the front line, with professional management provided by Residence Life within ACS. Alongside this student-facing provision delivered by ACS, the Student Support Services have a key role in training, guidance and support for relevant ACS staff. On an ongoing basis there need to be well developed communication systems linking student support staff in ACS and in Student Support Services in order to maximise the impact and effectiveness of the overall support structure.

Goal – to deliver high quality student support to all residents who hold an accommodation contract with the University.

2.6 Achieving Partnership Working

Effective communication across the various partners in student support is critical in achieving the vision expressed in this strategy. The University’s Student Support Committee (chaired by the Deputy Vice-President - Education) takes an overview of student support within the University, with a particular emphasis on achieving a partnership approach, ensuring that student support services continue to develop and be evaluated in line with student need and in support of the academic ambition of the University.

Goal – to achieve integrated and consistent high-quality student support, taking a collaborative approach to working across the University, to enhance achievement and opportunity for all students.


Latest update June 2018

Approved by Senate October 2018

Go to Student Support Committee home page