Our new student support model
We know University life can feel challenging sometimes. So, starting this year, we’re making big changes to the support our students receive while they’re studying with us.
- Video: Student support model
- An animation explaining the changes to the student support model.
We want to be able to provide you with the best experience of University life and ensure you feel supported during your time here.
The University has created a new student support model to deliver more consistent support for students, with enhanced teams of staff working alongside academics and other professional services staff to provide guidance and support to students.
The new model of student support was developed from the ideas of students and staff, as well as national and international benchmarking across the sector.
It has been developed following an intensive review and consultation of the old model, which showed that while the personal tutor and student support provision was effective in some areas, there remained scope for improvement in the overall provision of support for students.
As part of the new model, Student Advisers and Wellbeing Advisers will be introduced across the University to provide streamlined support for students.
The model will be rolled out as part of a phased approach from the beginning of the 2022/2023 academic year, with the majority of students currently studying at the University moving to the new model of support from 2023/24.
Support with your studies
The new model moves the University from its current personal tutor system to an adviser system in each School.
Student Advisers will become the first point of contact to assist students during their time at the University.
Students will continue to be able to access support from academic members of staff, and Directors of Learning and Teaching and Senior Tutors will continue to play critical roles within the evolved model of support.
Students who will have a Student Adviser instead of a Personal Tutor in the next academic year will be informed of the changes by their School.
Changes by College in the 2022/23 academic year
All incoming undergraduate students starting in year 1 of their degree programme, as well as new postgraduate taught students, will have a trained Student Adviser in the 2022/23 academic year.
Other new students entering different years of the programme, including direct entry and visiting undergraduate students, will be assigned a Personal Tutor in the 2022/23 academic year.
All other students (taught students progressing into their next year of study) will remain with their Personal Tutor.
In the School of Biomedical Sciences, all incoming undergraduate students, and students on the MSc programmes listed below, will have a trained Student Adviser in the 2022/23 academic year.
Anatomical Sciences - online PT/ICL PgCert, PgDip
Biomedical Sciences (Life Science) - on campus FT MScR
Clinical Anatomy - on campus FT MSC
Global Health and Infectious Diseases - online PT/ICL PgCert, PgDip, MSc
Human Anatomy - on campus FT MSc
International Animal Health - online PT/ICL PgCert, PgDip, MSc
For the 2022/23 academic year, all taught students in the School of Biomedical Sciences who are progressing into their next year of study will remain on the current Personal Tutoring system.
In all other Schools and Deaneries, for the 2022/23 academic year, all taught students will continue with existing support structures.
In the School of Economics, all incoming and continuing (Undergraduates years 1 – 3 and PGT) students will be allocated to a Student Adviser in the 2022/23 academic year.
In The Business School, The School of History, Classics & Archaeology, The School of Social and Political Science and Edinburgh Futures Institute, most incoming taught students will be allocated to a Student Adviser in the 2022/23 academic year. For the 2022/23 academic year, all taught students progressing into their next year of programme will remain on the current Personal Tutoring system.
In Moray House School of Education and Sport, there will be three limited pilot programmes that will be allocated a Student Adviser in the 2022/23 academic year:
- Incoming PDGE Primary students
- incoming students on the MSc Comparative Education and International Development programme
- some incoming (January 2023 start date) students on the MSc Digital Education programme
All visiting students – undergraduate and postgraduate – will be allocated to a Visiting Student Adviser in the 22/23 academic year. The Student Adviser will be their named contact to support students during their 6-12 months at University, however all visiting students will also have access to a Personal Tutor for more specialised academic support.
In all other CAHSS Schools not listed, students will have a Personal Tutor in the 2022/23 academic year.
Wellbeing and pastoral support
Wellbeing Advisers will be available to students who may be experiencing issues impacting on their health, wellbeing, studies and personal lives. These roles will be in place within Schools from the start of the 2022/23 academic year.
You can get support from Wellbeing Advisers, even if just to chat through how you are feeling.
They can provide you with advice and guidance on wellbeing-related issues and will also be able to refer you to our other services, such as Student Counselling.
You will be able to access their support through your Student Adviser, Personal Tutor or Student Support Team.
Frequently asked questions
The new model brings a lot of changes – particularly within student support and teaching teams – so that we can better support our students. Because of the size of the changes, they cannot be implemented across all Schools in the University at the same time. We want to make sure we get this right, which is why we are rolling the changes out in phases.
No. Student Advisers are staff that we have specially trained to be able to provide you with support during your studies, when you need it, and don’t combine this with an academic role. You will still have access to academics and teaching staff, and your Student Adviser will work closely with colleagues on any specialist study-related questions you have.
Programme-related support will be provided by academics acting as cohort leads, with wider teaching teams, who will work with students to engage with you during your programme of study and help you to make connections with fellow students.
Similar to students with Student Advisers, you’ll still have a dedicated staff member who knows who you are and is your first point of contact for academic advice and support. For you, this is your Personal Tutor and Student Support Team within your School.
While students with Student Advisers will have a slightly different set-up, you won’t be missing out on any support or getting less support. You’ll just have this provided to you in a different way.
We understand that the Personal Tutoring system has been effective in some areas. But feedback tells us this is not the case across all parts of the University and there remains scope for improvement in our overall provision of support for students. The new model also acknowledges the pressure felt by some staff who have reported feeling overwhelmed by demand and by the complexity of the challenges students can face.
We do however recognise that many Personal Tutors enjoy doing this role. While Personal Tutors will no longer be the dedicated contact for academic support for students, they will continue to work at the University in their existing learning and teaching roles.
As part of the new model, some of your Personal Tutors may also be asked to become Cohort Leads, which is a new role responsible for leading and coordinating activity to engage with you and your fellow students during your programme of study.
While Student Advisers will become your staff contact within your School to support you during your time here, they’ll work closely with teaching teams on more specialist study support requirements and with new Wellbeing Advisers on pastoral support. They are not a direct replacement for Personal Tutors and academics will continue to play a critical role in your studies and have regular contact with you.
If you need support with your wellbeing or with any mental health challenges during your studies, your Student Adviser (or Personal Tutor if you will continue to have one during the 2022/23 academic year) can refer you to a Wellbeing Adviser.
You can get support from Wellbeing Advisers, even if just to chat through how you are feeling. They can provide you with advice and guidance on wellbeing-related issues and will also be able to refer you to our other services, such as Student Counselling or the Disability Service, if needed.
You can access their support through your Student Adviser or Personal Tutor.
You will be told if you will have a Student Adviser or, if you are progressing into your next year of study, if you will remain with your Personal Tutor. You’ll also be able to access wellbeing support from Wellbeing Advisers.
The academic support you receive from your Supervisor will not change. You will, however, be able to access pastoral support from the Wellbeing Advisers, normally via referral from your Supervisor or Graduate School office.