Top Tips

Here are some hints and tips for staff that are involved in the role of  Academic Adviser and those that manage and support staff linked to the role:

For Academic Advisers

  • You need to know your students’ names and they need to know yours! Build in time to get to know your students. Take a look at SITS online to access personal information on each of your students, including their photo!
  • Your students will need to know HOW to contact you (best method) and when you are available. As part of your out-of-office message ensure there are alternative contacts for both students in distress and guidance for students who require urgent help – also see Student Support page
  • Students need to understand how you can support their progression at SHU; academically, pastorally and professionally. On your course where, when and how is this explained to students?
  • Establish the expectation that you will have regular contact with your students.
  • Ensure students come prepared to Academic Advising sessions. Set tasks in advance if necessary. Get students to take notes and encourage their ownership of the process. Take a look at the Action Planning page.
  • Ensure you are up to date with the range of professional support services, and you know how to refer on students in distress and guidance for students who require urgent help – also see Student Support page
  • Get to know your Student Support Adviser and Employability Adviser. They have an important role in providing support locally.

There are also a range of support services for academic advisors on our staff support page.  

For staff responsible for managing and supporting Academic Advising

  • Ensure all academic staff take the Being an Academic Adviser Blackboard course which introduces the University’s revised principle-based approach to academic advising and includes student video scenarios to help staff think about some common issues. Refer to the Training & Development section for more details.
  • Where possible, ensure staff-student consistency carries over from one year to the next.
  • Does your subject area/department have a key person who person acts as a named contact available for all staff to discuss difficult or challenging cases that arise in academic advising?
  • Keep up to date with training and development for staff acting as Academic Advisers

For staff responsible for managing an Academic Advising Programme

  • Consider at department level how Academic Advising can impact key data sets (PTES, UKES, NSS and DLHE). Ensure there is a named person in senior leadership team to take ownership of developing Academic Advising. Make Academic Advising an item at Department Boards.
  • Be clear about the purpose of academic advising at a local level: identify within the course the approach that underpins the Academic Advising role; e.g. support for student success/progression.
  • Course design – Macro: at the point of course approval you need to clearly articulate the purpose of the academic adviser’s role in supporting student development, and how this meets university priorities including employability.
  • Course design – Micro: should clearly articulate to staff and students how activities that foster staff-student relationships also support personal, academic and professional development over the lifecycle of the course. How do you manage the relationship with professional support services while maintaining some coherence to the academic’s advisory role?
  • Give academic advisers something to do with their students early on; e.g., reflect on early performance to action plan together. This can help establish the focus and purpose of the relationship.
  • Monitor your staff training and development needs. In addition to the online mandatory course for all academic staff, there are a range of workshops and an accredited course for experienced staff. If these don’t meet your needs please contact us.
  • Share practice. There are forums for sharing practices across the University, including an Academic Advising online discussion group via the Yammer social network. Share your own good practice and learn from other experienced practitioners from across the university.
  • Consider submitting contributions to this Academic Advising site in the form of tips, briefings, case studies, evaluations of practice, proposals for video scenarios that can be used to stimulate discussion about practice, and anything you think might help others and inspire good practice in this area. Send us your thoughts and ideas!
  • Evaluate your academic advice provision with a selection of students from all year groups in a collaborative discussion and benchmarking focus group. The NUS Benchmarking Toolkit in Academic Support, is a great resource for making the conversation evidence-informed. There are thorough instructions about how to use the tool, but remember to save time to establish joint priorities for your course.

Academic Advising wide banner