An Academic Mentor is a member of academic staff who provides academic guidance, and support for student personal development and acts as the first point of contact for pastoral care with regard to student welfare.
All students pursuing undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes of study must have a named Academic Mentor.
Each Faculty/School will have a Personal Academic Mentoring system that meets the University’s requirements, detailed in sections 3 and 4 below, and provides a first point of contact for students to discuss issues affecting their academic progress, personal development and welfare. The policy has been reviewed in line with the revised QAA Quality Code: Enabling Student Achievement published in November 2018.
The Personal Academic Mentoring system is also intended to support the provision of feedback and advice to students and the development of study skills to enable students to become more effective learners.
To provide clear information to students and staff regarding the provision for Academic Mentoring in the Faculty/School.
To ensure Academic Mentoring arrangements meet all of the University’s requirements for a Personal Academic Mentoring system.
To ensure that all students pursuing undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes of study are allocated a named Academic Mentor at the commencement of their programme.
Wherever possible, the allocation of Academic Mentors should take account of the diversity of the student cohort.
Students studying through the medium of Welsh should be allocated a Welsh speaking Academic Mentor.
Students who are not studying through the medium of Welsh but who indicate a preference for a Welsh speaking Academic Mentor should be allocated one if available for the subject area. If not available, a Welsh speaking Academic Mentor should be allocated from within the Faculty/School in addition to the subject specialist Academic Mentor.
In respect of Joint Honours programmes delivered by more than one Faculty/School, students shall be allocated an Academic Mentor from each Faculty/School.
To consider the ratio of students to Academic Mentors to ensure a fair allocation, taking into account overall workload.
Wherever possible, Faculties/Schools are encouraged to assign the same Academic Mentor for the duration of the student’s programme, where appropriate.
To ensure that replacement Academic Mentors are allocated to students in instances of extended staff absence.
To appoint a member(s) of staff with responsibility for coordinating the Academic Mentoring arrangements within the Faculty/School.
To appoint two or more Senior Academic Mentor(s) to provide guidance and support to Academic Mentors and to assist in the management of complex matters.
To ensure that an appropriate system is maintained to effectively monitor Academic Mentoring arrangements within the Faculty/School.
To ensure that clear information is provided to students on how to request a change of Academic Mentor.
To ensure arrangements are in place and working to support students who are studying abroad or on industrial, clinical or work placements.
Academic Mentors should make initial contact with their mentees to arrange the dates and times of proposed mentor sessions.
Academic Mentors should provide advice and support to mentees in matters related to their academic progress and personal development and support mentees in identifying help with welfare issues.
Academic Mentors should assist mentees in reviewing their progress, skills and achievements to date.
Academic Mentors should provide information to mentees on other sources of guidance and support available in the University.
Academic Mentors should discuss academic progress, assessment and examinations.
Academic Mentors (or another member of Faculty/School staff) should follow up mentees who do not attend Academic Mentor meetings and/or are not making satisfactory progress. Students should receive a personal email if they miss an Academic Mentor appointment.
Academic Mentors must be familiar with the University’s guidance on confidentiality in addition to any guidance issued by professional and statutory bodies.
Academic Mentors may provide references upon reasonable request by students or refer students to another member of staff.
Academic Mentors should familiarise themselves with sources of specialist advice and support from University central services, for example in respect of students with disabilities, international students and students under the age of 18.
Academic Mentors should recognise their own limitations and, in cases of doubt, should seek to refer students to specialist sources of advice and support.
There shall be a minimum of two individual Academic Mentor engagements between Academic Mentors and mentees each academic session, one early in the academic year and one mid-way through the academic year.
It is strongly recommended that additional Academic Mentor meetings, individual and/or group, be held on a more frequent basis.
Academic Mentors should clearly inform mentees of the purpose of the meeting.
Students may also request that an individual meeting be held with their Academic Mentor to discuss any specific needs and requirements they may have. Faculties/Schools must make provision for individual mentor meetings within a reasonable period of time.
Academic Mentors should initiate a meeting where there are unsatisfactory reports of mentee’s attendance or progress.
Students may request a change of Academic Mentor on one occasion, stating the reason for such request. Any subsequent requests for a change of Academic Mentor will be subject to the discretion of the Executive Dean.
To attend Academic Mentor meetings, whether individual or group, and to inform their mentor, in advance, of any instances of unavoidable absence.
To use the meeting to discuss their academic and personal development.
To inform Academic Mentors and/or Faculty/School staff who support student welfare of any personal circumstances that might be affecting attendance and academic progress.
To declare any needs for specific support from the University and to actively seek such support.
To respond actively to feedback and guidance provided and opportunities to enhance personal development including employability.
To inform Academic Mentors of their inclusion as a named referee in respect of any applications for employment or other purposes. In all cases, students must provide the Academic Mentor with relevant information regarding the purpose of the reference.
Faculties/Schools should use the current University wide platform(s) for maintaining and monitoring their Academic Mentoring arrangements. This is particularly important in the context of the University’s obligations under its UK Visas and Immigration License.
Faculties/Schools should also monitor Academic Mentoring through reviewing the outcomes of University student experience surveys and through Faculty/School monitoring and evaluation systems.
A record should be kept to confirm that all mentees have attended the Academic Mentor sessions.
The University will ensure that students are provided with the opportunity to comment upon the effectiveness of Academic Mentoring arrangements in accordance with the University’s quality assurance procedures.
Academic Mentors must not disclose information obtained from students to third parties without the prior consent of the student. Third parties include the student’s family, friends, landlords and other enquirers.
Exceptions to this involve situations where it is considered that the student is in serious danger of harming others, committing self-harm or where disclosure is required by law.
Academic Mentors must be aware that the Data Protection legislation provides students with the legal right, upon request, to access records of meetings with Academic Mentors.
Academic Mentors must be aware of the requirements of professional and statutory bodies in respect of confidentiality.
The University’s Compliance Officer can be contacted for guidance on the release of information and data protection issues.
The University will provide resources and support for Senior and Academic Mentors. Academic Mentor support requirements should be considered as part of the annual Performance Enabling Process and the continuing professional development of staff.
The University will provide an online resources for Academic Mentors to guide, inform and support staff in undertaking this very important role. The Academic Mentors’ resources will raise awareness of the academic requirements of students and the various support services that exist to help students within and outside of the University.
The Swansea Employability Academy will provide Academic Mentors with information to support student personal development, employability skills and attributes and career planning.
The Academi Hywel Teifi will provide information and support to Academic Mentors with regard to Welsh-medium provision and opportunities.
The University’s Policy on Academic Mentoring requires that all undergraduate and postgraduate taught students are allocated an Academic Mentor with whom they will come into contact with as members of teaching staff. Your Academic Mentor will provide you with academic guidance, support for personal development and help in identifying advice and guidance on welfare issues. It is, therefore, very important that you keep in touch with your Academic Mentor. You can find out who your Mentor is by accessing the University Intranet. If you have not been allocated an Academic Mentor please contact your Faculty/School Information Office.
In summary, the University expects an Academic Mentor to:
- provide academic guidance and personal development support and help in identifying advice and guidance on welfare issues including homesickness, bereavement, bullying, and more serious matters such as assault;
- meet their mentees at the beginning of the academic year and about half way through;
- Academic Mentors should recognise their own limitations and, in cases of doubt, refer students to specialist sources of advice and support;
- The student-mentor relationship shall remain confidential subject to University Guidelines including Chapter 3 section B of the Welfare GDPR and Consent Guide, and appropriate Acts of Parliament and the requirements of professional and statutory bodies;
- Personal Academic Mentors must not disclose information obtained from students to third parties without the prior consent of the student. Exceptions to this involve situations where it is considered that the student is in serious danger of harming others, committing self-harm or where disclosure is required by law.
- Provide Academic Mentors and/or Faculty/School staff who support student welfare with information about absences, performance and medical and other problems which might have the potential to influence academic progress, both at the start of their studies and during other times at University. Mentees are strongly urged to do this to ensure that they receive appropriate support during their time spent at Swansea, and that such circumstances are drawn to the attention of Academic Mentors and, where appropriate, the Faculty/School's Special Circumstances Committee;
- Attend all group and individual meetings with their Academic Mentor and provide satisfactory explanations, in advance, in any instance of unavoidable absence;
- Maintain their own personal development planner and contribute to planning activities arranged within the Academic Mentor meeting;
- Inform their Academic Mentor if charged or cautioned with any criminal offence during their period of enrolment as a student.
During the course of your studies you may wish to pursue issues further with members of staff outside the Faculty/School. In such cases you would be expected to contact staff in the Academic Services, Student Services or other administrative departments who might be able to assist you.