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Initiatives and resources supporting the objectives of UCL's Education Strategy 2016-21

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Personal tutoring

Personal tutoring is about supporting students' learning during their time at UCL.

Every UCL student has access to a range of support to maximise the outcomes of their time learning with us. At some point they will be looking for a general chat to make sure they are on track or they may be facing a difficulty that they need help with. In these situations their first port of call is the people they know at their department or programme, including their Personal Tutor who is the key ‘go to’ person. This local hub of support is reinforced, through case specific referrals where needed, by wider support services available across UCL and elsewhere.

Each programme decides how best to provide support to their students. UCL does not promote a one-size-fits all approach. There are many different models that can be considered, depending on the nature of the course, the size of the student cohort, the number of staff available and the location of students. What is essential, however, is that every programme provides every student with information on how to access personal guidance and support relating to:

  • Academic progress and associated development of research skills
  • Careers and personal professional development
  • General well-being

Each programme must ensure that every taught student is assigned a Personal Tutor who is available to provide regular and personal support and guidance to the students. The programme can decide what the specific role of the Personal Tutor is and who else is involved in the local hub of student support.

What is important is that the support is organised locally and clearly communicated to students so that students know where to get the support when they need it. Of course, it is also important that staff, particularly Personal Tutors, have full information about how support is provided to their students and what role they play in this. Staff responsible for supporting students can get guidance and help by speaking to the Arena Centre for Research-based Education, particularly if they are uncertain about how to deal with a situation they have not come across before.

'What do you need to succeed?' campaign, Autumn 2017

A campaign to raise awareness of our personal tutoring system among staff and students has been launched to coincide with the start of the new academic year.

For some years, our students have been telling us – through surveys such as NSS and PTES – that we need to make improvements to the academic support we offer. The first objective of our Education Strategy 2016-21 addresses this feedback, committing us ‘to move towards personalised student support, from first contact to graduation and beyond.’

The campaign has several elements:

  1. Personal Tutoring guide, setting out the scope and purpose of personal tutoring;
  2. Things To Talk About handbook, containing suggested topics for conversations between tutors and tutees, ordered to reflect the individual student’s changing priorities as they progress on their academic journey;
  3. Personal Tutoring website, a dedicated section of the new ‘Current Students’ site, which carries the same content as the guide and handbook with plans to add more content throughout the year;
  4. Cross-campus promotion, posters at prominent sites, displays on digital screens in the Library and departments, banners in general teaching spaces. Please contact the team if you would like us to send promotional materials for display in your area.

For more information about the Personal Tutoring project, contact

Sam Smidt  s.smidt@ucl.ac.uk Arena Centre for Research-Based Education

Viki Burnage v.burnage@ucl.ac.uk Office of the Vice-Provost (Education and Student Affairs)

Further support

If you have any questions, or would like to share you experience of personal tutoring with others through a case study or UCL Arena session, please email: arenacentre@ucl.ac.uk

Case studies