Teaching & Learning


Developing a personal tutoring network for undergraduates

UCL Economics’ undergraduates access bespoke personal tutoring through a network of contacts that provides all aspects of academic and pastoral support. Dr Cloda Jenkins and Dr Frank Witte explain.

Student and personal tutor

25 April 2017

The network makes undergraduates aware that their personal tutor is just one aspect of the support available to them.

A team of people to support students

While academic staff, including personal tutors, are highlighted as the contact for academic, careers and personal development, pastoral support is supplemented through the departmental tutor and undergraduate administration team.

In addition, the network includes lecturers, classmates and the department’s careers tutor.

Students are encouraged to identify the most relevant person and approach them directly to obtain the information they need.

In the past, the provision centred predominately on the personal tutor, a member of academic staff who was typically responsible the professional development and academic progression of up to 30 students. Although they still are the students’ main point of contact, the framework makes clear who else can assist.

How support is communicated to students

Students receive this information through their undergraduate handbook and various induction activities.

As well as during their arrival, provision is made clear at various milestones throughout the year and plans are being made to ensure this is reinforced in the following years.

Providing more information to staff so they can improve support for students

Introduced this year was a Moodle quiz for tutees at the end of the first term. This was a chance to reflect on their UCL experience and think about how they could further engage with the department and their studies. The quiz responses were available for personal tutors to review and use in their next meeting with students. The optional quiz had over 80% engagement and positive feedback from Student Academic Representatives (StARs) at a recent Student Staff Committee suggested that some students were encouraged be more proactive tutees.

With a wider group of personal tutoring contacts available to students, key departmental staff including the departmental tutor, meet regularly to discuss issues relating to students and provision more widely.

It means staff are able to build a more complete picture of individual students by sharing need-to-know information and are therefore able to identify where further support might be needed. It also provides an opportunity to discuss departmental queries around student support including attendance, exam preparations and feedback.

In the academic year 2017-18, there are plans to integrate more group support and development sessions in to the undergraduate timetable to give students a package of continuing development throughout their studies. This aims to give students an understanding of the support available to them right from the start of their degree and to manage expectations of what the personal tutoring system entails.