Code of Practice Advisers of Studies

Introduction

1. This code of practice sets out the procedures for providing support and guidance to all taught students (undergraduate and postgraduate) via the advisers of studies scheme. Each school has advisory teams appointed by the head of school and co-ordinated by a senior adviser. The teams identify members of academic staff as advisers for specific programmes of study. Details about current advisory teams.

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.  

Purpose

2. Advisers have an important role to play in enhancing a students’ academic and personal development and are essential in ensuring students make the most of their time at university. Advisers provide a personalised point of contact for students to discuss academic concerns or queries within the academic community. 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.

Role of the Adviser of Studies

3. Planning a taught postgraduate student’s 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.  

Members of the team are responsible for:

  • Providing information that will assist students to make informed choices throughout their academic studies.
  • Advising on how degree regulations apply and 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 the students’ intentions and possible future careers.
  • Approving module changes and ensuring students meet the requirements specified within the Degree Programme Table.
  • Approving programme changes and ensuring students meet the requirements of the new Degree Programme Table.
  • Advising on how to withdraw from a module or what options are available to students 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 them with the preparation of a case for an appeal, complaint or interruption of studies (leave of absence).
  • Referring students to sources of 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 the University of Stirling.

Role of the Senior Adviser

4. The senior adviser has responsibility for the operation of the scheme within the school 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 school is regularly and systematically monitored. To meet with the Deputy Principal (Education and Students) at least once per year to discuss common issues and the operation of the scheme.

5. University policy is such that the ultimate responsibility for the choice of programme and modules lies with the student. At the same time school advising teams are expected to provide students with information which will assist them to make informed choices throughout their studies.

6. 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).

7. It is the responsibility of the student to establish contact with the adviser of studies and to arrange meetings.

8. Members of the advisory teams will be available to deal with student queries/concerns during module registration and at the start of each semester.

9. Advisers of studies should familiarise themselves with the support and services that are available elsewhere within the University so students who require support can be directed to the relevant areas.   

Role of Students

10. The aim of the adviser of studies scheme is to provide students with a member of academic staff who will be available to provide academic guidance and support throughout their studies.   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 content).

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.

How the System Works

11. All taught students will have access to an adviser of studies who is familiar with the academic requirements of their degree programme. Advisers are recommended to make students aware of when they are available and how they wish to be contacted. The composition of advisory teams may be subject to annual review and it is the responsibility of schools to make existing students aware of the revised arrangements.

When an adviser is absent from the University for a significant period, students will be allocated an alternative adviser.

12. The allocation of advisers will be carried out by schools and it is the responsibility of the schools to ensure that all taught students have access to the advisory team.   

13. Where students are on combined degree programmes which span more than one school there will be an owning school.

14. In the unlikely event that the relationship between the adviser of studies and student breaks down irrevocably the School Manager should be contacted to request that the school reallocate the student to an alternative adviser.

Training 

15. Training will be available annually for members of advisory teams. This training will be provided by Human Resource & Organisational Development. The Deputy Principal (Education & 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.

16. Advisers will be supported by the Student Programmes Office who can be contacted by email at studentprogrammes@stir.ac.uk or on ext. 6685.

17. Any day to day queries regarding the operation of this code of practice should be addressed in the first instance to sacsadmin@stir.ac.uk.

Confidentiality

18. Conversations with students should normally be confidential. Problems raised should not be discussed with anyone else without their permission. Normally any issues should be discussed first with the student and with their agreement these should be brought to the attention of other relevant colleagues.

19. However, there are occasions when it would be inappropriate to maintain confidentiality, such as the disclosure of illegal activity or activity that may lead to harm for the student or others. In these circumstances it would be appropriate for an adviser to discuss their concerns with other colleagues.

20. In order to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, care should be taken with the storage and handling of student records. All users of personal information within the University have a responsibility to ensure that they process data in accordance with Data Protection Guidelines (see web-link below).

21. Advising teams must not hold sensitive personal data (i.e. where it relates to physical or mental health, sexual life, criminal offences or alleged criminal offences, ethnic or racial origin, political opinions, religious beliefs or trade union membership). Such data is subject to further constraints on processing and requires a greater level of security in its storage, handling and disposal. 

22. In accordance with the University’s retention guidelines advisory teams must confidentially destroy records held on students five years after the last contact with the student.

23. Further information about Data Protection is available or by emailing data.protection@stir.ac.uk.

Review and enhancement

The code of practice will be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure it takes consideration of sector best practice and any change to external requirements.

Registry & Governance Services
July 2014 

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