Staff FAQs


The Role

  • 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.

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.

You are responsible for organising regular meetings with your tutees. You should actively encourage attendance at tutorials, emphasising their importance in your invitation emails.

You can use a booking app in Microsoft Office 365 as demonstrated by Dr Kyle Bradfield on YouTube.

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

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).

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.

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

Suggested topics for discussion

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.

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.

Accessing Personal Tutor resources on the Portal

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.

Training and Support for Tutors

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.

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

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.

There are three basic principles:

  1. Every taught student will have a personal tutor
  2. Every programme will be owned by one and only one Faculty
  3. The Faculty owning the programme will be responsible for allocating students to a personal tutor.
  4. 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.

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.

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.

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

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.

If you wish to reject a tutee you should contact your Divisional or Faculty administrator.

Yes, if the relationship breaks down they can request a different tutor to be allocated via Faculty administrators.

Numbers vary depending on workloads and staff available but normally personal tutors will have no more than 40 tutees.

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.

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.

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

You should refer the tutee to their Advisor of Studies. Their identity will be noted on the student’s records on the portal.

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.

The STEER programme for students, run by the Student Union can often help students who are struggling to make connections.

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

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).

Check out why and assess what their options are. See further guidance on the website.

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

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.

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.

No, there is not at present. All communication with your tutee will be by email.

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.

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).

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

September 2014