Personal Academic Tutors for post-registration students


When did you first introduce the innovation?

Less than 12 months ago

Please describe the innovation you have developed

Post-registration students who are part time within the University setting have consistently identified the lack of regular contact, continuity of staff liaison and the experience of belonging to the institution as factors which can limit their positive experience of University life as they undertake modules on a semester basis, often having gaps between periods of study.

Introducing personal academic tutors for new students starting on a programme of study who are accountable for monitoring and supporting them throughout their studies provides that consistent contact point. A module team member from the core (and usually first) module will become the student’s Personal Academic Tutor. The Personal Academic Tutor will remain in close contact with the student throughout the Programme and encourage them to self-monitor and review their continued learning, recognising current skill sets, and aiding the development of identified areas for improvement. The Personal Academic Tutor is the first point of contact for all students on the Programme and may be contacted by telephone or e-mail. Following completion of the first module formal meetings, where students’ progress will be monitored and e-portfolio content will be integral to discussions, will occur once a semester for the duration of the students’ Programme.

What prompted you to develop this innovation?

The student experience is of prime importance in Higher Education and ensuring students feel valued and empowered to develop both academically and professionally is vital to ensuring they achieve their maximum potential.

In your view, what is it about this innovation that makes it different/important?

The introduction of Personal Academic Tutors drawn from across the Faculty to support students’ personal and professional development is a move away from a Programme centric resource pattern (using Programme Directors) to one which is more student centric. Because support will be available at a point ‘closer to the student’ the nature of this support will be more student centric and ultimately more satisfactory for both the student and their facilitator.

To what extent does your innovation make use of existing approaches, resources or technologies?

Student staff liaison conducted via the VLE in recognition that this group of students have life commitments outside the University.

Experienced personal tutors from Faculty programmes share their subject expertise and experience as PATS retaining contact with clinical practice and maintaining a degree of clinical currency.

Skype contacts, email and personal tutor meetings as desired by the students in their cohort group.

To what degree has this innovation led to changes in education or clinical practice?

Students have reported a more timely response to concerns and queries and know who to contact.

Continuation on programmes of study have been easier to track with completion of programmes being undertaken in a timely manner.

Reduction in concerns and complaints raised.

Development of academic staff undertaking the role from an academic management perspective and a method of deputising and future workforce planning is evolving.

What evidence do you have of the impact of the innovation?

Student evaluation is positive, with staff members feeling empowered to advise and support students and stakeholders in a timely manner.

Programme Management feedback has identified that pathway planning through the programme has become easier as students have greater guidance from the academic team.

External Examiners have praised the level of personal awareness academics have of their students in contrast to previous years.

To what degree has the innovation been disseminated in your organisation or elsewhere?

Currently embedding the role within the University and the Faculty. Innovation has only been disseminated on a local stakeholder basis.

Please provide details of any plans you have to disseminate the innovation in the future.

Evaluation of the impact of the role on a more formal level, publication, presentation at University staff development conferences.