- The Role
- Training and Support for Tutors
- Allocation of Tutees
- Referring Students for Specialist Support
- Records and Data
- Supporting students through COVID-19
What is the role of the personal tutor?
- To be the first point of contact for students upon joining the University and throughout the student journey.
- To undertake a pastoral role and to advise students of the relevant support services available to them.
- To support students in maximising their student experience.
How often do I see my tutees?
You should organise to see tutees once at the start of each semester for around 30 minutes. First year students should be seen in the first week of semester where possible, and tutorials with first year students should be prioritised in their first semester. Returning students should be invited to meet within the first 6 weeks of semester. Thereafter tutees should be encouraged to contact you if they are seeking guidance or advice.
It is good practice to contact students who may be at risk of academic failure or experiencing difficulties which are impacting on their studies as appropriate. You should check the performance of each of your tutees at the beginning of each semester to allow you to identify such students.
Who organises personal tutor meetings?
You are responsible for organising regular meetings with your tutees. You should actively encourage attendance at tutorials, emphasising their importance in your invitation emails.
How can I organise meeting slots with students?
You can use a booking app in Microsoft Office 365 as demonstrated by Dr Kyle Bradfield on YouTube.
Where do I meet my students?
Usually in your office or meeting room if this is appropriate, which is mutually convenient and private. Meetings can also take place by phone or via Microsoft Teams or other electronic means. Generally, meetings with tutees are cordial and professional but sometimes, particularly if a tutee is experiencing a mental health crisis, you should consider your own and student safety and, if you have any concerns take reasonable precautions. These can include:
- only meeting students during normal working hours, and on campus.
- letting people know that the meeting is taking place so they know where you are
- leaving the door open and ensuring you have escape access if required
- having another member of staff with you
- refusing to meet and taking advice from Student Support Services/ your Faculty, if you have concerns
- suggest having a phone conversation rather than a face to face meeting
What do I do if a tutee does not make an appointment?
If students do not attend tutorials following an invitation, it is appropriate to invite them once again, reiterating the value that students who do attend place in the tutorial experience, and emphasising the link between engagement and attainment.
However, if you are aware, or have reason to believe, a student is in distress or it is unlike them not to attend a pre-arranged meeting, then it is good practice to attempt to contact the student promptly by phone/e-mail to ensure they are safe and well. If contact cannot be made through either of those means then you are advised to contact Student Support Services preferably by phone (6022 or +44 1786 466022).
Should I see students on their own or in groups?
For new first year students, the first tutorial meeting should be for groups of students, rather than for individuals. This will allow students to get to know both their tutor and other students in a friendly and unthreatening environment and will help students settle into the university community. If students have individual questions and concerns that they wish to discuss with their tutor, additional meetings can be arranged subsequent to this initial meeting.
All other tutorials (i.e. for semesters 2-8) should be one-to-one and should have an academic and personal developmental focus. For example, tutors may wish to discuss with their students the grades for modules taken in the previous semester, their need for the acquisition of specific skills, and opportunities for personal development. Tutorials should also be used for signposting to student support services where this is deemed necessary.
What do I talk about at the initial meeting with new students?
What do I talk about in subsequent meetings?
Spring semester meetings can be used to reflect on how the tutee is doing and what lessons they have learnt from the previous semester. They can also look forward to goals for the coming semester and module choices for next year. Throughout the tutee’s journey you can help them to reflect and set goals on getting involved in student life, developing employability skills, undertaking work placements, internships, volunteering and applying for graduate jobs. For detailed advice they can be referred to the Careers and Employability Service
Is it possible for me to email groups of students?
Yes, you can send an email to all of your tutees or year groups. There is a drop-down box link directly above the first student in your tutee list on the portal. You can copy in other people if required and you can add attachments.
What information about my students do I have access to?
You can see the portal information on every student and that a student has an ARUAA, but at present personal tutors cannot see details of the ARUAA for their tutees. They also do not have access to any disciplinary records. It is worth discussing with your tutee what information you do have access to as tutees often imagine that personal tutors have more information than they do. Therefore, if a student wishes to discuss more personal information with you, they must decide themselves what details they wish to disclose.
How do I know if a tutee is at risk of academic failure?
You will be advised if a student is returning from leave of absence or is not attending classes, and you should contact the student to ensure they are receiving sufficient support. Students may also contact you directly to discuss any difficulties they are having.
What do I do if a tutee asks for a reference?
Read our references advisory note.
Training and Support for Tutors
Is there support for my emotional wellbeing available?
Yes, check out the information on our Supporting Staff to Support Students page.
Is there support for this role?
Support for you in your role is provided by:
- Dean for Teaching Quality Enhancement – Professor Alison Green, has responsibility for the enhancement of the student experience and is Chair of the University Learning Teaching and Quality Committee and therefore has responsibility for the Personal Tutor Scheme.
- Senior Advisor – A senior member of staff within the faculty who is available to support you and provide advice and guidance when needed.
- Student Programmes – A team within Academic Registry who can provide advice and guidance to both you and your tutees on their programme of study and next steps.
- Academic Development - who offer training and development to help you understand the role.
- The Student Hub – The initial enquiry team for a range of services including Student Support Services, Careers, Academic Registry, Income Office and Study Abroad.
- Student Learning Services – who offer academic skills support to students.
- Students’ Union – provide advice, guidance and advocacy services for students.
What if I suffer bullying, harassment or victimisation as a personal tutor?
Is training available for personal tutors?
A rolling programme of Personal tutor training is available each year. This is delivered by Academic Development and advertised through the Staff Round Up in August/September and January. Training on Mental Health First Aid is available and is advertised via Staff Round Up and through Faculties. In addition, an e-learning package produced by the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, which gives non-specialist staff training to support students with mental health issues is available here.
Allocation of Tutees
How will tutees be allocated to personal tutors?
The allocation of personal tutors will be carried out by Faculties on the basis of programme ownership. It is the responsibility of each Faculty to ensure that every taught student is allocated a personal tutor.
Who will be responsible for the personal tutoring of exchange, occasional, Erasmus or part-time students?
There are three basic principles:
- Every taught student will have a personal tutor
- Every programme will be owned by one and only one Faculty
- The Faculty owning the programme will be responsible for allocating students to a personal tutor.
- All visiting or non-graduating students will be allocated to the most appropriate Faculty based on their module selection and will be allocated a personal tutor from that Faculty.
Who will allocate my tutees and how will students on combined degree programmes be allocated a personal tutor?
The allocation process will be managed by the Faculty owning the programme and there will be a designated contact name for each Faculty. Faculty Managers will work together to manage the personal tutor allocations for students on combined degree programmes. Whilst the Faculty owning the programme is responsible for ensuring a personal tutor is allocated, that personal tutor may be from the other Faculty contributing to the combined degree.
When will I know how many students I have been allocated and who will tell me?
Students will be allocated by faculties as soon as possible on students’ arrival. The portal will record details and records of all of your tutees; 'new' will be displayed in the portal when a new tutee has been allocated.
How do I know who my personal tutees are?
You can find a list of your tutees on the Portal. From there you can send an individual or group email, and you can export a list of your tutees to Microsoft Excel. Clicking on a student’s User ID takes you to their academic history page where you can view their record in more detail. Accessing personal tutor portal resources
How will I know if I have been allocated a new tutee?
A “new” flag will appear on the list of tutees on your portal. New students are allocated as soon as possible at the start of semester but it is worth checking the list from time to time.
Does the system allow me to reject the allocation of a tutee?
If you wish to reject a tutee you should contact your Divisional or Faculty administrator.
Does the system allow a tutee to reject a tutor?
Yes, if the relationship breaks down they can request a different tutor to be allocated via Faculty administrators.
How many tutees am I likely to be allocated?
Numbers vary depending on workloads and staff available but normally personal tutors will have no more than 40 tutees.
Will I only have to tutor students in my own subject area?
Every attempt is made to allocate tutees to personal tutors in the same subject area but this is not always possible due to staffing and workload management. As the role of a personal tutor is not specifically related to academic guidance, this should not cause problems.
Will I remain as tutor to a student who changes programme during the academic year?
At present you will still retain the tutee if the student changes to a degree programme within another faculty. As some students may change their programme several times during the year managing those changes within the academic year may become unduly burdensome. A review of tutees will take place at the end of each academic year.
How will a student know that I am their personal tutor?
An email will be sent to all new tutees automatically. Your tutees will also be able to see who their tutor is by following the link on their academic history on the portal.
The University is committed to ensuring you feel emotionally well at work. If you aren’t feeling good just now and you feel you could use some support, please speak to your HR partner or your line manager.
Occupational Health provides an independent and confidential service and provides a range of services to detect, assess and help control the causes of occupational ill-health and to assist and support employees with health problems affecting their work capabilities. In discussion with your manager and/or HR you may be referred to occupational health, or you may also self-refer.
HR and Organisation Development offer many workshops that can have a positive effect on your health and wellbeing at work, including mindfulness, stress control and cultural awareness.
Referring Students for Specialist Support
To whom do I refer tutees if they need academic guidance which is beyond my knowledge?
You should refer the tutee to their Advisor of Studies. Their identity will be noted on the student’s records on the portal.
To whom do I refer tutees who are experiencing academic difficulties?
Initially ask the students to speak to their subject tutor/lecturer for specific help. If that is not appropriate then refer to Student Learning Services. They also have a large number of resources available on their Canvas site.
To whom do I refer tutees who require advice on careers and employability?
Find out more about our career service.
To whom do I refer students who are struggling to settle in?
Coping with a distressed student
There can be many different reasons why you might be concerned about a student. It may be that the student is experiencing difficulty or behaving in a way which is causing you disquiet or anxiety. You may be worried about a student who is feeling depressed or acting out of character. Guidance about what to do under these circumstances.
In light of your discussions, you may wish to refer the student to Student Support Services or discuss the student with them yourself. Contact details for Student Support Services and Emergency Support
Check out the information on our Supporting Staff to Support Students page.
What do I do if I am worried a student is missing?
hat do I do if a student is in financial difficulties?
What do I do if I am worried a student is suicidal?
How do I help students suffering low mood or stress?
How do I support a student who has identified as LGBT+ and wants support?
How do I support a student who has a physical or mobility difficulty, a sensory impairment, mental health condition or learning difficulty such as dyslexia?
What do I do if a student reports being bullied, victimised or harassed?
What is the university policy on Anti-Bullying and Harassment?
Full information on the university policy for Respect at work and study.
What do I do if a tutee has been affected by sexual violence?
Contact details of Student Support Services and Emergency Support
Details can be found here from Student Support Services and out of hours support. If your concern is about yours or others security or safety you can call the campus security team at any time, 365 days a year. Call internally on extension 2222 (emergency calls) or 7003 (non-emergency calls). +44(0)1786 467999 (emergency calls).
What do I do if a student wants to leave University?
Check out why and assess what their options are. See further guidance on the website.
What to do if you are concerned a member of the University community may be drawn into terrorism
Any member of staff who may have concerns that student might be at risk of being drawn into terrorism is encouraged to have an informal discussion with a senior colleague or line manager within their area who has already been Prevent trained.
Records and Data
Do I need to keep a record of meetings?
You should record attendance at tutorials. You may also wish to make notes to help in your discussions in subsequent tutorials and to see if your advice had proven useful. It would be good practice to forward a copy of any notes to the student concerned.
The records kept only need to be brief and it is suggested they include:
- A Record of the student’s name and ID number
- A Record of the date and time of the meeting
- A note of the type of meeting (e.g. a routine meeting or a meeting to discuss a particular issue)
- A Summary of the main issues discussed
- Details of any advice given
- Detail and actions for the tutor or student
- Records non-attendance at meetings
The tutor could ask the student to keep a record of the meeting. Records must be objective and not contain subjective comments.
Additional care should be taken when recording any sensitive or special categories of personal data. Examples of special categories of personal data as defined by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) include:
- The racial or ethnic origin of the data subject
- Their political opinions
- Their religious beliefs or other beliefs of a similar nature
- Their physical or mental health or condition
- Their sexual life
If you are recording any such information, you need written permission to disclose it. GDPR states that all personal data should be obtained for a specified purpose, and this data should be adequate, relevant and not excessive. Furthermore, data should be accurate and kept up to date.
You should avoid recording any sensitive or special categories of personal information specified in GDPR unless you think it is affecting a student’s academic performance or wellbeing. If you think you do need to record such information you need the written consent of the student to record it (email is acceptable).
Disclosure is almost always the choice of the student. The tutor’s role is only advisory.
Data Protection legislation means that students have a legal right to access any personal information about them held by the University. The means that personal tutors need to be aware that everything they record on paper or electronically can potentially be seen by the student in question.
GDPR requires that all personal information, whether recorded on paper or held in a computer file, must be kept securely. Records should only be kept as long as they are needed and must be disposed of securely. In accordance with the University’s retention guidelines, Personal tutor records should be destroyed 5 years after the last contact with the student.
Can the system record notes of my meetings?
No, you need to keep your own records and destroy them when they are no longer required in line with the section above on Record retention.
Is there an online file for my tutees allowing me to see correspondence?
No, there is not at present. All communication with your tutee will be by email.
Who can see my online interactions with my tutees?
Only you can see the interaction as presently it is entirely by email. If you have given someone else permission to view your mail account they will also be able to see the emails. Remember that any correspondence you have with or about your tutees could later be requested as part of a subject access request.
Can I talk to other staff about a tutee’s problems/concerns?
Find the full information on talking to other staff about a tutee’s problems/concerns.
What can I disclose to parents or third parties?
It is important to be aware that no information about a student should be disclosed to an external third party without their consent and/or relevant paperwork. If phoned by for example, a parent, you should politely explain that you are unable to have a conversation about any personal information, including assessment outcomes, without such consent. Even confirming or denying that an individual is a student at the University would infringe the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Can I force a student to speak to me or refer problems to others?
No. It is for the student to decide whether or not to seek guidance from their personal tutor or other sources of help. All a personal tutor can do is offer basic advice and signpost further help.
When a student discloses a personal matter to you, in your role as a Personal Tutor, it is helpful to ask them who they would like you to share this with and keeping a note of their response. When making a note of the conversation, it is advisable to simply record the facts relating to that dialogue and avoiding any judgemental terminology. Remember that a student can ask to see all information held on them at any stage.
In some cases, a student might disclose something to you, which they ask you to keep completely confidential. This request should be respected wherever possible; however, you must explain that you might need to seek advice from colleagues if they disclose something that is an issue that you do not feel comfortable or competent to deal with.
You could normally seek this advice anonymously, e.g. by contacting the Student Support Services for guidance but not giving the name of the student. Alternatively, you can encourage the student to make an appointment to speak with someone within Student Support Services and reassure them that their confidentiality will be respected and that nothing would be disclosed without their knowledge or consent, except in very extreme circumstances.
Where there is genuine concern that the student, or others, may be in danger then personal information SHOULD be shared either with appropriate officers within the University or with the police. Cases when confidentiality should be broken are where:
- You think the student is in danger of harming themselves or others, or
- For the purpose of prevention or detection of crime or the apprehension of offenders.
If a student admits to a crime that has not previously been disclosed or genuinely threatens to commit a crime then the tutor is obliged to inform an appropriate authority.
In some situations, it might be necessary for a Personal Tutor to set some very clear boundaries with a student. An example of this would be where a student repeatedly reports information that is out with your professional competence to handle but has not taken your advice to access other appropriate services. It such situations, it is important that you seek advice. Although these conversations can initially be anonymous, a point might be reached where the student has to be advised that this confidentiality had to be breached to a limited extent, due to a concern for their safety or the safety of others.
Finally, it is important to be aware that no information about a student should be disclosed to an external third party without their consent and/or relevant paperwork. If phoned by for example, a parent, you should politely explain that you are unable to have a conversation about any personal information, including assessment outcomes, without such consent. Even confirming or denying that an individual is a student at the University would infringe the Data Protection Act.
Governance and Review
Supporting students through COVID-19
What do I do if a student tells me they think they have covid-19?
Ask them to follow the guidance on the COVID-19 advice pages on the website which is updated regularly as the situation changes. It has up to date guidance on what they should do.
What do I do if a student tells me they have tested positive but is not self-isolating and has not told the university?
They should be encouraged to follow the guidance on the COVID-19 advice pages on the website, which is updated regularly as the situation changes. By completing the university reporting form they will trigger the support which is available to students who are having to self-isolate. You should also discuss with them their responsibilities to our community under the Campus Pledge.
I have been advised that one of my tutees is self-isolating what should I do?
Once a student advises the university that they are self-isolating, a number of support mechanisms are activated. Currently most students are not feeling unwell with symptoms but may well be feeling lonely and anxious. As a personal tutor, it would help them if you could contact the student and offer general support and discuss with them how their studies are being affected.
Do student who are isolating automatically receive coursework extensions?
No, many students who are isolating feel well and, if they are able to continue studies and meet deadlines, they should be encouraged to do so. If they self-certify that they are unwell and unable to complete coursework then extensions should be considered.
How often should I contact my tutees who are isolation?
We recommend once a week but you can negotiate this with the tutee so they have clear expectations. The principles are clarity and providing a sense of support the student has access to.
What have students been told will happen if they are self isolating in university accommodation?
Students are provided with an overview of what to expect from the University and advice on the guidance they should be following. The Accommodation Services team have an initial discussion to check how the student is. The team provides an extra set of bed linen and cleaning and laundry supplies. They check that students have access to online shopping and provide essential food supplies if not. Students are also provided with useful contact numbers and information resources, including emergency and support contact details.
This is followed up with a wellbeing check-in appointment with Student Services organised within 48 hours, and arrangements for any additional follow up support are agreed at that stage.
Regular check-ins are made by email every 48 hrs thereafter, with a second wellbeing check-in appointment at the start of the second week of isolation, unless the student states that they do not want or need that level of engagement. During these checks in, Student Services will conduct a general wellbeing check and will provide information about available support services and the Be Connected programme. They will arrange referrals to any other services as needed. Students will also be provided with access to the IsolationSupport@stir.ac.uk email address, which will allow them to make direct contact with the team as needed at any time 9-5 during their period of isolation, including weekends.
What about our students who are not in university accommodation- what support is available to them?
Similar arrangements are in place for students who are in private accommodation. Once the University has been notified that they are isolating, Student Services will contact them within 48 hours to arrange a wellbeing check appointment. The team will check that these students have access to online shopping, and will assist with arranging essential food supplies if not. Follow up contact with these students will follow the same pattern as noted above for the students isolating in university-owned accommodation.
Where can I find more information?
Check the webpages on COVID-19 which are kept up to date with current Government guidelines and the support available. Visit Supporting Staff to Support Students if you need more information about how to support a student. Find out more about the support services available to all students.
Students can access the Student Hub if they have any questions – they can do this most easily by using Live Chat, which is available on their portal, or alternatively calling 01786 466022 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
My tutee is feeling lonely and bored – what can I suggest?
The BeConnected programme is available online to provide some activity for all students. Clubs and societies have moved online and the Students’ Union can help put them in touch. It is important students keep in contact with friends and support networks both at University but also through their other support networks, like family. It might be useful to work through with them where they can find support and contact.
Faculties are working hard to develop communities through modules and programmes and students in isolation should be encouraged to take part, as far as possible, in their studies and their learning communities.
If I am concerned about the wellbeing of a tutee in isolation, who should I contact?
If you are concerned about a student who is isolating but it is not an immediate crisis, email IsolationSupport@stir.ac.uk
If you need to talk to someone more urgently, you can contact the Student Hub on 01786 466022. If it is an immediate wellbeing crisis, call the Student Hub staff Emergency Referral line on 07511954607
Find out more about out of hours and emergency support.