What is it?
At the University of Southampton, all students are allocated a Personal Academic Tutor (PAT); this person is usually a member of academic staff who will be there to support the student on a one-to-one basis throughout their time at Southampton. The students’ Personal Academic Tutor has a number of roles including:
- helping students in the transition as they settle into University, and make sure that they make the most of their time studying at Southampton
- seeing them regularly throughout the academic year to help them reflect on their progress and support them in thinking about their development, both in their studies and in the extra-curricular interests and activities they undertake while they are at University
- advising and supporting them regarding their studies, and helping them with any academic or personal difficulties that may affect their progress.
Unfortunately, some students struggle with university life, especially the academic side, and this sometimes results in them falling behind or failing exams. Therefore, many tutors offer these students one-to-one feedback sessions where the student has the opportunity to discuss any problems they may be experiencing with their tutor and receive personalised feedback based on their own needs. These sessions are usually face-to-face. However many tutors are also willing to support struggling students via e-mail if they so wish.
This type of feedback can be particularly useful for students who may have failed an exam, and therefore need extra support in preparation for future examinations. During this session, the tutor will go through the exam paper and help the student to identify where their weaknesses lie and how they can overcome these difficulties in order to make further progress.
Although this type of sessions have been primarily reserved for struggling students in the past, an increasing number of tutors are holding one-to-one feedback sessions for students who are being awarded border line marks, i.e. those who are currently on a B grade, but would like to work towards an A.
For more details about the pastoral care system at the University of Southampton, please visit the following website: www.southampton.ac.uk/studentadmin/personaltutor.html
How can students make the most of it?
If students experience any academic or personal difficulties during their time at the University of Southampton, it is important that they contact their Personal Academic Tutor as soon as possible to ensure that they receive the relevant support. However, Personal Academic Tutors aren’t only there for when students are experiencing issues. Students can also contact them if you they’d like further advice or guidance on anything relating to their course. In the event they cannot respond to queries, they will refer students to someone who will have the expertise to deal with it.
Students should also be actively encouraged to meet with their tutor if they have failed an exam; are struggling with their academic work or would like to progress to the next level. This can often be a stressful and sometimes upsetting situation for students, and they may have difficulty taking in everything their tutor has to say. Therefore, it is important that students take notes during these sessions so that they can refer back to any relevant feedback in the future. Similarly, if the tutor agrees, recording the session can also prove to be effective especially for international students who may have difficulty understanding what the tutor has to say.
It is of equal importance that students prepared for these meetings in advance if possible by going through the exam paper and highlighting their main weaknesses or simply putting together a short list of questions they would like to ask their tutor.