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Case study: Developing Personal Tutoring

An institutional review of personal tutoring was undertaken in 2017/18. Consulting widely across the University and more widely across the HE sector, the review explored the purpose and requirements of personal tutoring - including the important interface with Wellbeing Support Services. A number of recommendations (18 in total) - informed by best practice, demographic and diversity considerations – to develop the quality of personal tutoring resulted, which were approved by the University. Recommendations focused on the four thematic and linked areas of resourcing personal tutoring, recognising its value within existing institutional reward and recognition frameworks, undertaking regular review to support quality improvements, and practice developments including training and guidance resources. Recommendations will be implemented in the 2018/19 academic year.

Department(s) / colleagues involved

Dean of Students’ Office and Personal Tutoring Review 2017 Working Group

Our aim was to …

Support the ongoing development of personal tutoring practice across the University, in ways that improve the quality of academic support students receive and support the wellbeing of academic staff undertaking this strand of academic activity. Repositioning personal tutoring into the academic space, clearer institutional valuing and recognition of personal tutoring work and its explicit inclusion in institutional reward frameworks were important underpinnings recommended as part of this review.

What we did …

A Review Group was set up to undertake the project.

Detailed understanding of personal tutoring across the sector was sought via:

  • Review of relevant academic, practice and policy strands of the literature
  • Consultation and discussion with relevant external parties including UK Advising and Tutoring (UKAT) – UK professional body for personal tutoring in FE and HE
  • Review of sector provision of a number of HEPs identified as competitor institutions or leaders in the field of academic support provision
  • Consideration of sector benchmarks
  • Review of UK NSS 2016 data relating to academic support (sorting institutions by % of positive responses in relation to the three ‘academic support’ questions) to identify top-performing institutions for more detailed analysis

Institutional understanding was informed via:

  • Consideration of size and shape data
  • Analysis of available NSS data (qualitative and quantitative)
  • Consultation with UG and PG SSLCs across the University
  • Interviews with Heads of Departments and Senior Tutors across the University
  • Collection of comments via a web form open to staff and students

The outcome has been …

Eighteen recommendations (for 2018/19 implementation) to improve personal tutoring practice including:

  • Development of a Code of Practice
  • Agreeing a limit of 25 tutees per academic tutor
  • Increasing the number of Faculty Wellbeing Support Advisors
  • Inclusion of personal tutoring work within promotion criteria
  • Introducing annual awards for those delivering personal tutoring excellence
  • Developing and implementing a range of personal and senior tutor training programmes
  • Developing student guidance to inform and encourage engagement with personal tutoring


The benefit/impact has been …

  • Raising the profile of and repositioning personal tutoring as a valued strand of academic work
  • Setting out a clearer and more positive institutional framing of personal tutoring that appropriately recognises the contribution of personal tutoring to a number of important strategic agendas across the university – including enhancing the quality of the student experience, supporting students’ transition and retention, and promoting the safeguarding and wellbeing of students
  • Explicitly recognising personal and senior tutoring within institutional promotion criteria and setting up annual awards for personal tutoring will promote the visibility of personal tutoring work, begin to build a sense of a community of practice and help to share and disseminate excellent practice

This supports the Education Strategy by …

Personal tutoring is one of the key facilitators of the student experience supporting students’ academic development and progression and contributing to the development of a more personalised learning environment that engenders students’ belonging and academic identity. The interaction between tutors and students, through information sharing, relationship building, signposting and referral facilitates the accessibility of learning across the full diversity of the student body. For students, being known by a tutor and having access to an academic that mentors and supports their academic development, directly enhances the quality of their learning experiences.

The response of students / staff has been …

All recommendations were approved by Senate in March 2018 and Council in May 2018.

Consultation across the University was undertaken with both academics and students – with widespread support for the quality and focus of the review work undertaken.

Our next steps will be …

Development and implementation (throughout 2018/19) of all recommendations.

To find out more, you can contact …

Dean of Students’ Office

The full Personal Tutoring Report (PTR 2017) and Executive Summary are available on the Dean of Students’ website.