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Role of a Personal Tutor

Guidelines for the Role of the Personal Tutor at Saidu Medical College Saidu Sharif Swat.


The Concept of “PERSONAL TUTORS” was introduced in SMC by Chief Executive and Principal Saidu Medical College Swat Prof Dr Israr Ul Haq in the last quarter of 2018 soon after assuming his duties as Principal. This document present comprehensive guidelines for the role of personal tutors.
These Guideline would be updated regularly every year and if need be, at any time in special circumstances.

As soon as you are assigned the duties of being tutor to the Students of Saidu Medical College the following top priorities should be set immediately

Setting boundaries.  Boundaries of the tutor-tutee relationship should be set during the first two meetings. These may include When can a tutee contact you and When will you not be available? What can you help with and what are out of your purview.

Your role as a tutor is to support and develop your tutee through their studies, not to solve all of their problems. It is therefore emphasized that tutor should refrain from involving him/herself in serious family matters of the tutee.

In case you believe the problem with your tutee is a psychological illness, it is mandatory not to intervene further and promptly report to your senior who would if necessary arrange for psychiatrist consultation through the parents of the tutee.

Each Personal Tutor may approach setting his or her own boundaries differently, based on their own personal style, abilities and situation, but boundaries should be in line with the College tutorial system and policies. It is also a good idea to talk to Senior Tutors about boundaries.

Developing students:  Personal Tutors have an important role in encouraging students to seek opportunities and make choices that develop them academically, personally and professionally. To help students to monitor their development Personal Tutors should maintain an overview of their tutees in terms of their academic progress, test results etc / development and provide regular one-to-one feedback and guidance.

Supporting students:  Personal Tutors provide a source of support to their tutees, both academic and Pastoral (emotional care in pain, loss and anxiety, and their triumphs, joys and victories). If Personal Tutors do not feel qualified to advise on a particular problem, they should consult colleagues or direct the student to an appropriate source of support. You play a key role in helping them to achieve their potential in terms of academic, personal and professional development.

The Role of the Personal Tutor, Common Student Problems and Sources of Help

Academic Development: 

The level of involvement a Personal Tutor has in their tutee’s academic development varies across departments and from student to student. In the School of Medicine, for example, the role of the Personal Tutor relates more to the pastoral care of undergraduate students. Personal Tutors might reasonably be expected to assist with the following:

Study skills: 

Advise students on drawing up study plans, learning strategies, time management, when to take notes and when not during lectures, how to research a topic and write a report / essay. Information on study skills is issued in the ‘Learning to Learn’ booklet which each student receives early in their first year of study. Advice on both the practical and creative aspects of writing skills is also available from the Writer in Residence.

Exam preparations: 

Advise students on preparing for assessment and examination. Students might also need tips on how to cope with exam stress.

Tutors’ meeting:

Personal Tutors may be asked to comment on their tutee’s performance during a meeting announced by the Principal, particularly if there are any special circumstances that need to be considered, at Tutor's meetings. Some Personal Tutors also inform students of their end of year results.

Academic progress: 

Assist students to develop responsibility for their own academic progress. Monitor and review student academic progress and in case of shortcomings intervene and identify the reasons and solve the problem

Professional Development: 

This actually refers to the Personal Tutor’s role in student academic and professional development during and even after the medical college course ends.

  1. References: Students usually name their Personal Tutor as a referee on job applications and / or applications for further study, and this can continue long after a student has graduated. When writing references Personal Tutors should make sure they are factually correct and any opinion expressed in them could be justified on reasonable grounds if ever questioned. Referees should also bear in mind that even if a reference is written ‘in confidence’ the data subject may still have the right to see the reference. Guidance on writing references can be taken from senior tutors.
  2. Personal development plans: Students should be encouraged to draw up Personal Development Plans (PDPs) as it helps them take charge of their own educational, personal and career development by reflecting on what and how they are learning. Some students may wish to discuss it with their Personal Tutor.
  3. Career planning: Students might ask their Personal Tutor for advice about selecting option courses and on choosing a career direction. Arranging meetings with professionals of the tutees field of choice and helping him or her make a sound choice would be the goal.
  4. Vacation work: Vacation work for both the winter and Summer vacations may be issued to students if required.
  5. Curriculum Vitae: Some students might ask for advice on preparing a CV.

Moral Ethical and Emotional matters: 

Students should be able to discuss with their Personal Tutor any problems they might have, including personal problems. Generally students are more likely to approach their Personal Tutor for advice / help if they establish a rapport early on. It is advisable therefore that Personal Tutors should meet their tutees as early as possible in the first term of their first year of study.

Student personal problems can range from depression, loneliness, parental problems, anxiety about parental health, emotional insecurities arising from adapting from a school to university environment, to practical matters such as financial problems and accommodation. Bullying and harassment is another problem that some students might encounter. In all cases Personal Tutors should give students compassionate assistance and if appropriate give advice, but as mentioned earlier, in cases of Psychological problems they are not expected to be a counsellor and should as necessary refer students for professional care / advice through parents of the tutee.

Bullying and harassment: 

Any complaints about bullying and harassment should be investigated in an objective way and handled confidentially with respect for the rights of both the complainant and the alleged harasser. Some forms of harassment are stopped by simply approaching the person, explaining the nature of the complaint and stating that the behaviour is unacceptable. However, some cases have to be dealt with through College’s disciplinary procedures and therefore it is advisable for Personal Tutors to refer problems about bullying and harassment to the Senior Tutor as early as possible with the student’s consent.

Coping with a disability: 

Students who need help to cope with a disability, should in the first instance be referred to the Senior Tutor. In future the College nominated Disabilities Officer would also available to discuss in confidence matters concerning access and accommodation or any worries a student may have and is happy to visit students in either their area of work or hostel at the College campus.

Money problems: 

Tutors are not allowed to accept or provide payments, Gifts or similar in any case. However, Rewards may be given to deserving Students after Informing the principal.

College Uniform: 

A "No compromise" policy of Saidu Medical College in case of college uniform must be emphasized to the tutees right from their 1st day


The hostel Wardens are able to assist students looking for accommodation in the college hostel.

Social Development: 

Personal Tutors can help establish a good social relationship between students and academic staff by encouraging their tutees to socialize and attend departmental events / functions. This is an important way of helping students settle into College life. They can also help students cope with any cultural difficulties encountered.

Cultural shock: 

International students especially may be feeling isolated and homesick and finding it difficult to adjust to social customs here and to cope with language barriers. It often helps if they can talk to somebody who is approachable and friendly who will help them understand more about the locality and social customs. It is useful if Personal Tutors can help introduce them to their fellow students who are already settled into life in Saidu Medical College.

Identify ‘At Risk’ Students: 

Personal Tutors are often the best placed to pick up on early indicators that a student might be having academic or personal difficulties that could put their progress on the course at risk. Absenteeism from tutorials, failing to hand in course work, achieving low grades in course work and exams; these can all be important indicators that help to identify ‘at risk’ students. Personal Tutors are normally involved therefore in monitoring indicators such as student absenteeism and, in accordance with departmental procedures, recording and reporting it to the Senior Tutor. Personal Tutors should be aware of College policy on absence as follows:

Absence due to illness: 

Students absent from lectures due to illness for more than one week should submit a medical certificate. Illness can only be taken into account in assessing the significance of poor attendance, work or examination results if the illness is reported at the time it happened and a medical certificate is submitted.

Other absences: 

If it is necessary for a student to be absent from College for any reason other than illness, the Principal must be informed.

Uninformed absences: 

If student fails to appear in lectures and fails to provide reasonable cause the tutor must inform him or her about the mandatory 75% attendance required in order to be allowed to sit in the Exam.


Personal Tutors are often contacted by external parties for information about students. It is College policy however not to divulge student information and all such enquiries should be referred to the Principal.

Requests from parents: 

If asked by parents for information about a student, Personal Tutors should tell them they cannot divulge student information even if it is about their son / daughter, without the students consent. If they persist to ask, Personal Tutors should refer them immediately to the Principal.

Requests from the police: 

Personal Tutors should refer requests from the police immediately to the Principal.

Personal Intimate Matters: 

A tutor must never involve him/herself in personal, intimate, and family matters of the tutee nor should the tutor indulge in such relations or maintain a constant contact which might lead to disciplinary action against both the tutor and the tutee.


Author: Dr Amjad Ali Khan