Current challenges in personal tutoring and the role of data as part of the solution

Rachel S Maxwell (Solutionpath)
Michael Draper (Swansea University)
Izaak Morris (Swansea University Student Union)

Monday, April 3, 2023 2:30 PM - 3:15 PM

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Session Outline

Personal tutoring comes in multiple different guises across the UK HE sector, including personal tutoring, student journey advisers, coaches and academic mentors. Often tutors are positioned as the first and primary point of contact between the student and the university to assist in the resolution of any issues arising either with the student's academic studies or with university life more broadly. More proactive personal tutoring activities, such as helping to build a sense of belonging as part of induction processes and the transition to university, preparing students for placement activities or post-study employment including the development of graduate attributes, are also an inherent part of the role. In reality, most personal tutoring, irrespective of how it is defined within a university, is a combination of these responsibilities and is both proactive and reactive in nature.

In recent years, the pressures and demands upon those undertaking the personal tutor role, particularly subject-specialist academic staff, have massively increased. The on-going legacy of COVID-19 on staff and student wellbeing, as well as on the design, delivery and engagement with learning and teaching are still becoming apparent. These increased pressures come on top of an already substantial increase in the number of students declaring a health condition when entering university (rising 450% in a decade, according to UCAS). On top of this, universities are seeking to support students with the current cost-of-living crisis - which is impacting staff as well as students, write their latest TEF submission and adhere to the regulatory requirements from the OfS.

This round table session will explore those challenges in more depth, contextualised primarily through the lens of the University of Swansea's work to develop how personal tutoring and pastoral support is designed and made available to its students. Participants will work to better understand the challenges facing those involved in the provision of personal and pastoral support before considering how better and more targeted use of data can add value and be part of any proposed solutions.

The discussions will subsequently be turned into a briefing paper to be shared with participants and conference delegates, as well as made available on the Solutionpath website.

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
C5 - How equitable and inclusive environments are created and maintained
I7 - Data and information technology applicable to tutoring
R7 - Collaborate effectively with campus services to provide support to students