Personal Academic Tutoring

Quality Teaching | Meaningful Learning

Personal Academic Tutoring

Personal Academic Tutoring is integral to the University of Northampton’s holistic approach to supporting student success. Our faculty-based Personal Academic Tutors, or ‘PATs’, provide an extra layer of academic and pastoral support, and enhances the support offered by the module tutor and programme leader, to an assigned number of students.
A relationship-based role that is based on trust is built over time and enables the PAT to aid students in achieving and even exceeding their aspirations. A PAT has a tutoring and advising role to motivate, encourage, and supporting students to recognise their potential, meet challenges and respect individuality (UKAT, 2020).

The Role of PAT and how it works at UON

Management of PAT approach and tutee allocation

The administration of the PAT approach is managed locally by Faculties. Each Faculty will allocate tutees to PATs within 2 weeks of the student enrolling at UON. The Head of Learning and Teaching Enhancement works closely with Faculty contacts to support the implementation of PAT provision. For more information about this please contact your Faculty Manager or

The Personal Academic Tutor Role

The Personal Academic Tutor is integral part of the University of Northampton’s approach to Integrated Learner Support which provides a holistic approach to supporting student success. PATs encourage social and academic belonging to the programme particularly in relation to transition into HE and induction and undertake personal development planning including transition to the next level of study. The PAT works closely with the Student Support and Advice Team (SSAT) and other relevant Professional Services to support student engagement and progress to provide personalised interventions for success. In this way, the PAT serves as a central figure in a student’s university experience. The areas of responsibility outlined below are indicative of the role of the PAT at the University of Northampton and should be considered alongside the Integrated Learner Support Policy. The PAT role is directly aligned with the Enabling Student Achievement section of the QAA Quality Code (2018).
It is expected that the PAT role will cover the following areas although the emphasis on each area will vary depending on the individuals involved, the subject/programme studied and the level of study.
1. Pastoral work
PATs are often the first point of contact for students who need additional personal support and the need for specific interventions will also often be surfaced through regular PAT meetings and activities. PATs should take an active role in working with the appropriate support services within the University to support student welfare. This will be facilitated by MyEngagement.
2. Building Community
PATs can encourage a sense of belonging to the programme, and their pastoral role is central to this aspect. The belonging element is integral to student success regarding the academic and/or professional community, to the university and to its wider environment. There will be opportunities within PAT to encourage students to think about what communities they belong to, about cultural and other differences within those communities and to encourage engagement with activities that strengthen understanding and bonds. Awareness of university support teams and networks make up an important element of this strand.
3. Academic Development and Progress
PATs should use MyEngagement to inform conversations about academic engagement, development, and achievement. They should also encourage students to reflect on their own academic skills (including academic, digital and information skills) as these are important contributors to student success. These interactions also have a pastoral focus. All students should have embedded support for academic, information, digital and employability skills as part of the ILS but reflection on individual needs can be part of the PAT conversation, especially around early assessments.
4. Employability, personal development and supporting aspiration
The PAT role is key to support students with their pastoral needs. PATs should also encourage students to reflect on social and community engagement, social enterprise and Changemaker awards. They should also support aspiration through discussions of routes to and transition into employment which may be subject specific or more generalist. All would be supported from the Changemaker Hub through targeted intervention or support materials.

CPD and the PAT

CPD PAT sessions are designed to support colleagues in the development of their professional practice in the PAT role, to take on the advising and tutoring activities to enhance the student experience (UKAT, 2020). The sessions focus on the operation of the role of PATs in relation to the University KPI’s, PAT policy, and the use of MyEngagement to record engagement.

The aim is to aid colleagues to develop an understanding of the role and the skills required, to identify strategies for managing difficult conversations and situations. To aid PATs in developing the confidence and resilience required in the PAT role. To build the capacity of the University in our PAT provision across all disciplines, study modes within a sustainable and inclusive environment.

For more information about PAT CPD sessions please see our C@N-DO training sessions for Personal Academic Tutors.

Resources to support you being a PAT

The PAT approach at UON works alongside our Integrated Learner Support project whereby all students are supported by specialist teams throughout their time at UON. For more information to understand how ILS works please go to the ILS web page.

Our catalogue of expert teams:

The University of Northampton is an institutional member of UKAT – the United Kingdom Advising and Tutoring association. This gives PATs access to a wealth of resources to support your work with students. To access their resources please see their Resource area on their website.

At UON, MyEngagement, a learner analytics tool is used to support the PAT and student by recording interactions and referrals to other specialise support teams. For more information about MyEngagement please visit the MyEngagement web page and the NILE Organisation.

PAT Policy | PAT Role Descriptor | Integrate Learner Support | PAT CPD Sessions | Student in Distress Leaflet

If you need more information please contact:

Other Resources

Suggested reading from UKAT:
This month, you might like to read the following article in which three scholars explain explain why, despite its faults, the pastoral role remains crucial.
Allison, L., Bassnett, S., & Yale, A. (2022). How to be a personal tutor | Times Higher Education (THE). The Times Higher Education Supplement.
Available online:

Our PAT Community Practice

Our PAT Community of Practice meets regularly to discuss topics pertaining to personal academic tutoring and to support colleagues undertaking this vital work. If you would like to join the Community of Practice, please get in touch: