Wednesday 19 February 2020

Campaign: Time for Tutees

Student Minds Bath share their successful Time for Tutees campaign and hope it inspires other university campaign groups. 
- Student Minds Bath

Time for Tutees – as the name might suggest this was and remains a campaign designed to reform the roles that personal tutors play in the pastoral care of their tutees at the University of Bath.

Some months into the 2018/19 academic year, it became very clear to us that in the vast majority of cases, students did not feel that they could discuss their mental health with their personal tutor. Hence, we set out to determine exactly what was and wasn't working in the personal tutoring system, with a view to writing and submitting a paper to CSSU (Council, Senate, Students' Union).

We held focus groups with both students and staff, using their experiences to write our recommendations for the paper. Perhaps the three most common themes that emerged from the focus groups were expectations, inconsistency and training.

Expectations: students were unsure what exactly they should expect from their personal tutors with regards to pastoral care.

Inconsistency: personal tutors across departments had completely different concepts as to what their role encompassed, leading to huge disparities in students' experiences with their tutors across the university.

Training: tutors receive no specific training for their role despite representing the first point of contact with the university for many students.

Towards the end of the year, we presented our paper at CSSU and emphasised in particular our request for the formation of a working group between the university, students' union and us (to work on this project long term and refine the recommendations for implementation). This request has since been fulfilled in addition to a few of our smaller recommendations such as defining the role of a personal tutor more specifically in official documentation (i.e. in the quality assurance document that specifies the function of the personal tutoring system and responsibilities of individual tutors).

At present, we are awaiting the first meeting of the working group to better gauge how best we can push this campaign forwards. Despite the university being slow to react (this campaign has been going for nearly a year), we have been successful in raising the profile of personal tutoring, with a focus on mental health, both within the university and the Students' Union (who have now included personal tutoring in their top ten issues to tackle this academic year).

Whilst we are still working to achieve the changes we set out to make, we are still proud of the differences we have made despite our outreach and size. The Student Minds Bath campaigns team is comprised of six students, all balancing their lectures, coursework and exams with their efforts to bring about change. I hope if nothing else, the success of the Time for Tutees campaign thus far serves to underline how much of an impact students can have if they put their heads together and organise. I hope this serves as an inspiration for other student groups looking to transform the state of student mental health.

Click here to find out more about volunteering with Student Minds
Click here for Student Minds Bath's Facebook page

Student Minds Bath is one of the many university-based, student-run campaign groups overseen by the national charity of the same name. We are a small team focused on bringing about the changes in mental health policy and provision that our fellow students wish to see.

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