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1.1 Summary of responsibilities: departmental tutors and academic advisers

The fundamental responsibilities of departmental tutors and academic advisers are set out in the School's Code of Good Practice for Undergraduate Programmes: Teaching, Learning and Assessment (www.lse.ac.uk/resources/calendar/academicRegulations/codeOfGoodPracticeForUndergraduateProgrammesTeachingLearningAndAssessment.htm|)  and are summarised in the table below.

Departmental tutor (DT)  Academic adviser (AA)

To provide departmental orientation programmes for new and continuing students.

To monitor the academic and pastoral care provided by members of his or her department, including the provision of reasonable adjustments for students with disabilities and compliance with the School's Single Equality Scheme.

To arrange regular termly meetings of the Staff-Student Liaison Committee and the nomination of a representative to the School's Undergraduate Students' Consultative Forum.

To provide a direct channel of communication between the School and any student who is encountering academic or pastoral difficulties.

To agree, where appropriate, a student's request for course choice outside the degree regulations.

To agree, where appropriate, a student's request for a degree transfer.

 

To provide students with academic guidance and feedback on the students' progress and performance and to discuss any academic problems they may experience.

To provide pastoral support on non-academic issues and to refer students, as necessary, to the appropriate support agencies within the School.

To implement the provisions outlined in Individual Student Support Agreements for students with long-term medical conditions, specific learning differences and/or disabilities in liaison with the School's Disability and Well-being Service.

To maintain regular contact with the student on academic and pastoral issues through direct one-to-one meetings and other means of communication, such as emails. The number and nature of meetings may vary between departments and programmes as detailed in relevant handbooks.

To comment on and provide a general assessment of a student's progress on their termly class reports via LSE forYou.

To inform the departmental tutor and School of any students whose attendance and progress is not satisfactory.

 

Useful additions to the departmental tutor's role may include:

  • Providing induction/briefing for all new members of staff on their role and responsibilities as academic advisers and the department's approach to implementation of the Code of Good Practice. The Teaching and Learning Centre is happy to assist with this, and generic advice on providing academic advice is incorporated into the New Academic Induction Programme in September each year.
  • Providing a list of key dates in the academic year for academic advisers with reminders on these over the course of the year. Section 1.4 provides a generic template, but it may be helpful to develop a department-specific version (see Appendix 1).
  • Monitoring the completion of comments by academic advisers on LSE for You. At present the technology does not make this a straightforward task, as student reports can only be accessed by class, lecture or programme (not by 'teacher') and there is ongoing discussion of issues around monitoring colleagues' performance. For now, departmental tutors may want to use email reminders to prompt academic advisers to complete comments and review class reports.  

The DT can turn to their convener and/or the Dean of Undergraduate Studies and the Associate Dean of the General Course for assistance in any matter.

Every department has at least one departmental tutor and every undergraduate/General Course student is allocated to a specific academic adviser. In several departments, the departmental tutor also acts as academic adviser to General Course students. Allocation of students to academic advisers is often done by the departmental tutor, and may be based on student interests, needs and 'match' with a particular adviser. More often, though, allocation is quite random (especially for first year students), and may be delegated to a member of administrative staff, or be based on sharing the workload equitably across colleagues in the department, rather than attempting any kind of academic 'matching' between student and adviser interests.

Each department should have in place clear procedures to enable students to change their academic adviser if the relationship proves problematic. The procedure may vary from department to department. Both departmental tutors and academic advisers have academic and pastoral responsibilities. A few departments are now experimenting with splitting the departmental tutor role. For example, in International History and Economics there are now two DTs, one taking primary responsibility for academic matters, the other for pastoral issues.

As shown in the list of possible duties, the departmental tutor has an overseeing, advisory and monitoring role vis-à-vis academic advisers. As such, the DT may prompt an adviser to address key tasks, or provide a calendar of important dates, often contacting them via email or in person. There are many examples of good practice in the School of how this relationship is effectively coordinated. 

Specific expectations of academic advisers (eg in terms of timing and frequency of meetings with students) should be included in departmental undergraduate handbooks. In various departments, DTs have produced guides that are useful for new academic advisers in their departments.

Both departmental tutors and academic advisers must have detailed knowledge of the structure and regulations of degree programmes in their department. Information on these is available on the Undergraduate page in the Calendar, on the LSE website (lse.ac.uk/calendar|). The Student Services Centre website (lse.ac.uk/studentServicesCentre|) provides a substantial amount of useful information. Departmental tutors and academic advisers should also be familiar with the various Codes of Practice that relate to students. See School Regulations and Codes of Practice (lse.ac.uk/schoolRegulations|) for a detailed listing.

Both departmental tutors and academic advisers also need a good working knowledge of other sources of support and advice for students in the School, particularly the wide range of welfare, study, language and careers advice that is available. This handbook points new DTs and AAs to many of these sources.

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