We’ve answered the most commonly asked questions about the Personal Tutor System in the links below, 'Concerned about a Student' and 'Other FAQs'. However, if you don’t find the answer you're looking for, contact your School’s Senior Personal Tutor, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Information provided elsewhere to Students
- Support Services Guide - Quick guide to referral information
- FAQs for Personal Tutees - will direct you to the Student website
- Ongoing information on Covid-19
- Concerned about a student
1. What do I do if I'm concerned about a student?
Student in crisis
If you think the student is in Crisis or in an Emergency, suggest that the student goes to the Accident and Emergency Department of their local Hospital OR dial 999 and ask for an Ambulance. Alternatively, the student should contact their GP Practice and ask for an Emergency Appointment. When the GP Practice is closed, the student should telephone NHS 24 on 111 (NHS out-of-hours).
There is also a Guide from SAMH about how to ask about suicide.
Keep an eye out for indicators
There can be many different indicators that a student is experiencing difficulties eg. the student might tell you directly or you might realise that they are having attendance difficulties from Student Records. The student might also be demonstrating low mood or erratic behaviour or you might notice that their appearance or demeanour is different to how you normally see them.
Don't keep it to yourself
If you feel any concern having spoken to a student, definitely don't keep it to yourself. Depending on the nature and level of your concern, you could either discuss this with your Senior Personal Tutor in your school or refer the student to other services at the University.
Watch for signal Something as apparently simple as a student seeking an extension for an assignment can be an indicator of an underlying or emerging problem.
You should be alert to any early suggestions that a student may be experiencing difficulty.
Refer to expert colleagues
There may be times when you wish to refer a student onto someone else, perhaps about a problem when you don’t feel competent to offer advice.
If you are concerned about a student’s well-being, you should refer them to the Student Advice & Support Office on the second floor of the Students' Union Building in the first instance, or seek guidance from that office yourself, if that is more appropriate, by emailing email@example.com and your message will be checked by the colleague on duty. If appropriate mark your message “urgent” and the colleague will get back to you. Routes of referral for a wide range of issues are also provided in the Student Help Guide.
If you feel that a student might benefit from longer term counselling, the following Guidance from the Counselling Service explains how you might discuss that with them.
Students can also be referred to the Chaplaincy for a confidential discussion on any personal matter.
Know your boundaries
Sometimes a student’s behaviour to you might cause you to feel uncomfortable (eg. if they are threatening, or flirtatious).
Different members of the University staff will have different boundaries in terms of their relationships with students. There is no 'one size fits all'.
Guidance on steps you can take if you are worried about a student has been produced to assist you. If you would like to discuss your concerns with someone in Student Advice & Support, please call Ext. 3935
2. Confidentiality: What should I do if a student's parent contacts me and asks for information about their offspring?
Students at the University are above the age of consent and therefore it is a matter of statute that no personal information about students is divulged even to parents. This can result in anxiety for the parents, so it should be explained sensitively that it is standard practice across UK Universities, that in terms of the Data Protection Act 1998, their son or daughter is an adult data subject whose personal data cannot be released to anyone without the prior written consent of that data subject.
A parent should ask their son or daughter to give the University express written consent to authorise release of their personal data to one or both of the parents (or to any other person) and, only upon receipt of that instruction, and proof of identity of the requester, will the University release that personal data.
Guide explaining confidentiality and boundaries.
3. Confidentiality: If a situation arises which is drastic who do I go to with breaking confidentiality?
On matters of confidentiality students should be made aware that personal tutors are approachable at any time should an issue arise. If in any doubt, always seek advice from Student Support before knowingly breaching confidentiality.
Guide explaining confidentiality and boundaries.
4. What do I do if a student discloses to me that they have a disability, including any Specific Learning Difference or long term medical condition?
If a student discloses a disability to you, it is worth first checking with them if they have formally informed the University of this and already have some support in place.
If not (eg. they tell you that you are the first person they have told), you should advise them to contact the Student Advice and Support Office in the Students' Union Building, for a confidential discussion about their particular circumstances. If they appear to be uncomfortable with this, you should offer to make that initial contact on their behalf (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Any confidentiality request from the student should be respected and recorded.
5. What should I do if a student indicates that they are considering withdrawing from study or would like to take a break?
As a Personal Tutor you may wish to explore their reasons for withdrawing and explore their options and support which may be available.
Refer the student to the Duty Registry Officer in the Infohub who can give appropriate advice on withdrawing from studies and the possibility of readmission at a later date.
You may also wish to consult the Retention Lead and the Student Progress Convenor in your School who could guide you on how best to support the student and as to the possibilities available. There can be a lot more flexibility than the student might expect.
Students can also be referred to the Changes to Studies - Withdrawing or taking a break from your studies section of the Student website.
6. Where do I refer students if I can't answer their queries?
In broad terms, if a student has queries or difficulties relating to administration (ID Cards, making payments to the University, Student Records, Accommodation and Registry Advice), please refer them to Infohub. For more personal difficulties (disabilities, financial worries, personal issues, visa renewals), refer them to Student Advice and Support.
Have a look at the Support & Advice pages on this website or use the Student Help Guide
7. What do I do if a student wants to make a complaint?
The University of Aberdeen is committed to enhancing the experience of our students.
We aim to ensure that our teaching, support services and Students’ Association activities provide positive experiences and opportunities for our students.
If we are to achieve that aim, it is important that we know what is and is not working. We endeavour to listen to student concerns and to ensure they are dealt with appropriately.
The University recognises that there will be occasions when students will wish to raise concerns about issues relating to their experience at the University. We strongly encourage and indeed expect students to try to find a way to resolve problems quickly at local level in the first instance. However we appreciate that sometimes this may not be possible for a variety of reasons, and the University has a student complaint procedure through which students can raise complaints relating to their experience at the University. You can refer a student to the relevant procedure below.
8. In the rare event of a problematic relationship between a tutor and a student, will it be possible for the student and / or tutor to request a transfer?
Yes, but the Senior Personal Tutors should be approached in the first instance if there is a problem and a resolution cannot be found. Students can be reallocated Personal Tutors in exceptional circumstances.
9. If students, as a group, perceive and are unhappy about their Personal Tutor's lack of enthusiasm and / or support, what resources will they have for complaint?
As above, Students should speak to the Senior Personal Tutor and / or Head of School who will seek to address the situation.
10. What do I do if a student has experienced harassment, bullying or sexual assault?
See the resources here Online Reporting Tool | About | The University of Aberdeen (abdn.ac.uk) including the online reporting tool.
- Other FAQs
1. When will staff receive information of their students?
This will be provided as soon as possible, likely by early to mid September.
You can print and view your own list of students from SRS live records using this Guide to help you.
Where there are reallocations identified with Heads of Schools due to staff leaving, sabbatical leave or absence through illness, reallocations will be done throughout the academic year and individual tutors and students notified of changes.
2. Who will allocate my students?
This is done centrally through the Infohub in consultation with Senior Personal Tutors . You can contact them on email@example.com .
3. Whose responsibility is it to make initial contact with Level 1 students regarding the first tutorial?
The Personal Tutor will contact the student in the first instance, although the name of the tutor will already have been supplied to the new student by Infohub and shown on their Student Hub.
The initial meeting will be set up by the tutor, though the format will differ between schools; some meetings will be in groups and some as individual appointments. If there is a group meeting, it should be made clear to tutees that if they would like to meet tutors on a one to one basis this can be arranged.
Staff who cannot attend centrally scheduled times in Induction week, as specified by their school, are expected to set up meetings with students as soon as possible after term starts and before the end of the second week.
4. Will I be responsible for those students allocated to me who are on an industrial placement?
You will remain Personal Tutor for these students and as such you can offer to remain in email contact with the students concerned (at the relevant meeting times on the schedule, it would seem logical to “check in” with these students). Hopefully, if students know there is someone at their “home” institution who could signpost help here, they may be reassured.
On their return to University they will meet with you as per the rest of your tutees.
5. I have been asked to provide an academic reference - where can I find help in preparing this?
There is guidance prepared by the Careers Service and it can be found here. Note that you should check with a student that reference requests are genuine.
6. I have been asked by a tutee if they can request a Gaelic-speaking Tutor?
The University Gaelic Plan is developing a policy for students to request a Gaelic-speaking personal tutor.
If a Gaelic-speaking student wishes to have a Gaelic-speaking personal tutor, that request should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration. Priority will be given firstly to students in Gaelic Studies or Gaelic Initial Teacher Training programmes.
7. What support is available for students with specific curriculum queries?
Unless your School has chosen a different path, Personal Tutors are not expected to advise students in depth on curriculum matters. Personal Tutors are, however, expected to engage in initial discussion with students about their studies, as part of being an initial approachable pastoral contact. Your Senior Personal Tutors will have prepared a guidance note for your School which provides appropriate basic information about degrees and issues in your School and the appropriate colleagues (in the School and in Registry) to whom students should be referred for further guidance on curriculum matters. Students will also have the benefit of MyCurriculum.
8. Training & IT Tools
Please click on the link below to be redirected to our training and guidance resources.
9. I need to excuse a student from Jury Duty as it will clash with coursework/exams- what should I write?
You can use this text to excuse your student, filling in the relevant details for the individual. You should print it onto headed paper.
10. What should I do if a student asks me to accompany them to an appeal or a hearing?
You may do this if you would like and you may also want to suggest to the student that AUSA can also provide valuable support.
Note that you are not there to speak for the student. You might find it useful to ask the student if they would like to share papers beforehand so that you are informed. If any issues come to mind about issues which might be explored, you could raise these with the student.
It would also be useful to be familiar with e.g. the C7 website material and the relevant University process.
If things get difficult in a hearing it is often useful to ask for a break.
At the end of the hearing, it may be useful to check that the student ok, understands what going on and if they have questions to ask.
11. I am really worried about wars and conflicts throughout the world and how they may be affecting students
The key thing is to be aware that there are many wars and conflicts, some of which not all of us will be aware.
Students may also be affected by a situation which might not seem immediately apart from e.g. their nationality or address. Do be sensitive to this, allow students to speak if they would like to do this, and be aware that email@example.com can always offer specialist support and also guidance about financial support.
You may also want to share the link below to the Counselling self-help guides which touch on anxiety, worry and major events.