Section one: the advisory scheme

1.1 Introduction

Under the University’s current advisory scheme, all undergraduate and postgraduate students, both full-time and part-time, have access to one or more members of academic staff with formal responsibility for offering advice and guidance on academic matters and for providing information on support services organised within the University community.

Students who are studying part-time, off-campus or online will have access to an adviser but it is expected that the contact between the adviser and student will be appropriate to the context of their study. The advisory scheme is supported by the addition of a new personal tutoring system which provides additional support for students.

The normal arrangements are that each School has advisory teams appointed by the Head of School and co-ordinated by a senior adviser at either divisional or school level. The teams identify members of academic staff as advisers for specific programmes of study. Details about the current advisory teams can be found here.

1.2 What Advisors do

The general purpose of the role is to provide more in-depth advice on the academic options available to students and on the academic policies and regulations within the University.

1.2.1 Planning Programmes of Study

Planning a taught postgraduate programme is normally straightforward; in most cases the programme is prescribed by the regulations of the particular degree being studied.

However, undergraduate programmes are quite different. The flexibility of undergraduate study means that the number of possible programmes is very large. Undergraduates may need help to understand how the degree regulations apply to them and whether a particular choice of module(s) will or will not lead to a degree. An adviser will provide students with sound academic advice which will assist them in making choices about a programme of study that is best suited to their intentions and their possible future careers. This can often be done by email or phone, but advisers should be prepared to deal with such issues in their regular office hours too.

The student may also consult an adviser in the course of the year about the planning of their degree. Sections three and four of this handbook will be useful in this context.

1.2.2 Dealing with Problems

An adviser should act as the first point of contact when students experience academic problems.

In many cases, an adviser can take action to support students, perhaps by providing advice on study skills or by referring students to Student Learning Services, if appropriate. In other cases, particularly those involving personal difficulties, the adviser’s role should be to inform the student about the other specialist support services that exist, many of which listed here.

1.2.3 What a student can expect from an adviser

Members of the team are responsible for:

  • Providing information that will assist students to make informed choices at various stages of their studies.
  • Advising on how degree regulations apply and advising on which modules can be selected for the relevant degree programme.
  • Providing academic advice to assist with making choices about a programme of study best suited to their intentions and possible future careers.
  • Approving module changes and ensuring compliance with the appropriate Degree Programme Table.
  • Approving programme changes and ensuring compliance with all requirements of the new Degree Programme Table.
  • Advising on how to withdraw from a module or what the options are following failure of any module.
  • Taking action to assist students with academic problems such as providing advice on study skills.
  • Signposting students to the appropriate regulations, codes of practice and support services (eg. The Students’ Union) to assist students with the preparation of a case for submission to University authorities or committees (e.g. appeals or interruption of studies).
  • Referring the student to obtain more specialist advice within the University, when required (eg. immigration information).
  • Keeping up to date with the University’s regulations for the award of degrees and the particular requirements of individual degree programmes.
  • Approving module choices for outgoing exchange students.
  • Approving module choices for incoming study abroad and exchange students, at the application stage, and then acting as an academic adviser for these students throughout their study abroad period at Stirling
  • Calculating the grade translation for returning exchange students

To meet these requirements, advisers need:

  • to be well informed about the University’s academic structures and to keep themselves up-to-date with changes;
  • to monitor students’ progress and discuss it with them;
  • to be well informed about the range of support services which are available to students;
  • to be sympathetic to the needs of students and any difficulties which they may encounter.

In order to give good academic advice to students, advisers need to have a full understanding of:

  • the University’s overall regulations for the award of degrees;
  • the University’s Codes of Practice;
  • the particular requirements of individual degree programmes.

1.2.4 Responsibilities of the Student and of the Adviser

University policy is such that the ultimate responsibility for the choice of programme and modules lies with the student.At the same time school advisory teams are expected to provide students with information which will assist them to make informed choices at various stages of their studies. Every adviser must be familiar with the appropriate regulations in order to ensure that students are following programmes that will enable them to meet the degree requirements. At each stage, the student will require to register for a coherent programme of modules which will lead to the intended qualification. Programme details are listed in the Calendar (see below). Students should be made aware that it is for them to decide whether or not to accept the academic advice offered (and whether or not to seek guidance on personal problems from the advisers).

Students are actively encouraged to view the adviser as someone who can advise and support students across a wide range of academic issues and not someone whom they should only see when they have a problem (eg. to obtain more information about module selections).

In order to gain the maximum benefit from the scheme students should:

  • Attend all meetings that have been arranged with advisers.
  • Make sure that their personal details are up to date on the portal.
  • Inform the adviser of any circumstances that may be affecting their academic performance so that effective support can be offered.
  • Make themselves aware of the regulations and procedures relevant to their studies, and seek advice where they are unsure of what is required.
  • Reflect on their academic performance.
  • Take due account of advice or information given.

1.3 Resources for Advisors

The Academic Regulations that form part of the University’s regulatory framework are available on theAcademic Regulations section of the Registry and Governance Services page. The regulations along with other documents such as Ordinances, Codes of Practice, Policies and Standards and Module Descriptions govern the academic conduct of both our students and our staff.

The undergraduate regulations along with the requirements for individual undergraduate degree programmes (Honours) in the undergraduate degree programme tables can be found here.

The taught postgraduate regulations and requirements for individual degree programmes in the taught postgraduate degree programme tables can be found here.

Prospectus information, as well as general information relating to International Students, Scholarships and Student Exchanges can be found through the Recruitment and Admissions section here.

The Induction working group have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to aid students and staff in directing general University queries to the appropriate departments. These can be found here.

Frequently asked questions, a list of general resources and the Code of Practice for Advisers of Studies are available here.

A comprehensive A-Z has been prepared to support both students and academic staff. This can be found here.

The International Office has compiled a list of frequently asked questions to aid students and staff. These can be found here.

1.4 Senior Advisors

Most Schools have a senior adviser appointed at school level who assists colleagues within the Faculty in operating the advisory scheme at school level. Details here.

Senior advisers can also be appointed at a divisional level within schools and information on each school's advisory organisational structure can be accessed here.

The senior adviser has responsibility for the operation of the scheme within the Faculty or division, and in particular for ensuring that there is adequate advisory cover, especially during registration periods when demand for advice is likely to be high.

The responsibilities of the senior adviser are:

  • To ensure that new advisers of studies understand the expectations of their role, have access to the required training and support materials and are kept up-to-date with current developments.
  • To ensure that information about the adviser of studies scheme is embedded into school induction programmes.
  • To ensure that information about the adviser of studies scheme is updated and made available to applicants through the induction website.
  • To ensure that continuing students are advised of changes to the membership of the adviser of studies scheme
  • To ensure the smooth operation of the scheme within schools and in particular the provision of adequate advisory cover, especially during registration periods when demand for advice is likely to be at its highest
  • To provide advice to advisers of studies regarding unusual or complex issues.
  • To ensure that the effectiveness of the adviser of studies scheme within the Faculty is regularly and systematically monitored.

Training will be available annually for advisory teams. This training will be provided by Human Resources and Organisation Development. The Deputy Principal (Education and Students) will convene an informal meeting of all senior advisers at least once a year to highlight good practice, discuss issues of common concern and review the operation of the advisory teams.