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Referring Students


"Knowing when to refer students is perhaps one of the most important skills a personal tutor can possess."

- Dr Paul Walker, UCL Centre for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching


It is vital to know the boundaries of the role. Personal Tutors are not expected to deal with critical issues that require specialist skills. Rather, we should know when to refer a student with a problem to others with appropriate expertise and be familiar with what facilities are available for such referrals. 

For one’s own sake, as well as the student’s, it is important to realise when other people need to be involved and particularly when a student has psychological or other problems requiring specialist help.

The UCL Student Psychological Services offers some helpful guidance for staff who may wish to refer students to its various services and resources.

How I dealt with a challenging situation...

Dr Simon Banks discusses the challenge he faced when a student came to him with a problem and how, actually, deferring to expert advice really was the best thing to do.

When your departmental or faculty tutor can help....

In this video, Ms Susan Ware discusses some of the issues that should be referred to the departmental or faculty tutor rather than dealt with by the personal tutor. 

Where to refer

The choice to advise or refer needs to be made judiciously. On the one hand, it is disappointing to students if the personal tutor’s only reaction to their problem is to suggest that they see someone else about it. A decision to seek help often requires considerable effort, and students are easily deterred if they sense they’re being passed along the line. On the other hand, a cardinal principle of personal tutoring is not to take on more than one can manage.

UCL provides an extensive network of support for students in relation to a wide range of pastoral issues and special needs.

The personal tutor can be a helpful point of contact in referring students to services with the resources and expertise most appropriate to their needs.

A list of relevant services is accessible on the UCL website.

Page last modified on 30 jul 13 10:29