A parental figure when you leave home

October 15, 1999

Tom Hodgkinson, 21, third-year maths,Glasgow University

Everyone needs a personal tutor. They are the parental figure you need when you move away from home, someone you can turn to when you get into trouble. I was genuinely unwell in my first year and was unable to sit my exams.

My personal tutor accepted my explanation without any questions and sorted everything out for me. She knew exactly who to speak to and I had nothing to worry about.

Judith Tonner, 20, fourth-year Englishand politics, Glasgow University

I only ever see my personal tutor to matriculate. I doubt that I would ever go to him for any pastoral guidance, as I would turn to my family and friends first, rather than to any of the university's welfare services.

This is not to say that I could not go to him as he is always very helpful when I do meet him. He is also really easy to get in contact with. But pastoral care is not the main thing I expect from university.

Tim Shand (right), 20, second-year politics and sociology,Glasgow University

My personal tutor and I get on very well, but I have heard of other students who have been given wrong welfare information.

Most tutors seem to be very helpful but there is a feeling that some of the academics who become personal tutors do not really know much about what is going on.

Because of the problems that can arise as a result of this, I think personal tutors should be better informed about the different kinds of welfare services available.

But as this will mean a bit of extra work on their part, I can understand that some people will see the advising job as a kind of sideline to their real academic job.

Alison MacDougall (right), 19, third-year English and Celtic civilisation, Glasgow University

A lot of students do not seem to realise that university support structures are there for them. There are a lot of times when welfare and academic problems cross over - if you are ill and fall behind with your studies, personal tutors will know the right people to sort things out for you.

I think it helps that my personal tutor is from the department I'm studying in. It means that they are more understanding.

Some people have real problems tracking their tutor down, but I've been lucky so far. My personal tutor has always been friendly and available.

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