Academic Advising at Oxford Brookes - approach, commitment and principles

  • Advising will vary across disciplines and Faculties
  • Not 'one size fits all', rather 'freedom within a framework'
  • Therefore, not the same, but equitable across areas
  • A two pronged approach between Uni/OCAED and your subject team/line manager/Faculty

"You should expect to have discussions with your Academic Advisor at least twice a year. Your Academic Advisor will normally invite you to a one-to-one or group meeting near the start of each Semester"

Academic Guidance statement (above is the minimum commitment)

The eight Principles of Academic Advising at Oxford Brookes

These principles have been informed by the NUS’s Academic Support Benchmarking Tool (NUS, 2015a) and Charter on Personal Tutors (NUS, 2015b), the UK Advising and Tutoring association’s Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring (UKAT, 2019) and a consultation exercise undertaken with staff and students in 2019/20.

The principles constitute a generic framework for effective advising to be interpreted by departments in terms of what works best for you and your students. The diversity of subject discipline and student cohort across the institution means that Academic Advising will legitimately vary according to teaching context. It is acknowledged that ‘one size does not fit all’ and an ethos of ‘freedom within a framework’ should exist. They are for supporting all students on taught programmes.

The Oxford Brookes Academic Advising system provides:

Principle Detail
1. A key element of integrated academic and pastoral support

Academic Advisors and advising sessions are positioned as one element of a support network. It is clear to students how those staff work together to provide holistic support.

Sessions should be consistent with or contribute to the delivery of the Education and Enterprise Pillar of Oxford Brookes University Strategy 2035

Information about advising and adjunct services (purpose, roles and expectations) for students and staff need to be clear, accessible and up to date. This will enable effective signposting (for example, for further pastoral care) where relevant.

2.  Personalised support Wherever possible, every student has a named advisor for the duration of their programme of study. Should it be necessary, there is a clear process for students to change advisor.
3. A structured advising programme by discipline or subject Subject areas should offer advising programmes that are timetabled and collectively planned. Flexibility will be shown for specific student groups.
4. Regular structured interactions that are based on clear agreed expectations Sessions need to be purposeful and planned. AA sessions are spaces to recalibrate expectations of support with a view to developing student autonomy.
5. Student reflection, development and recognition of achievement

Sessions are spaces to support shared and personal reflections and stocktaking. Staff are trained to listen and to appreciate the unique background and profile of each student.

6. Academic and career goal setting Sessions address academic and long-term career goals as well as support students who feel unsure about their future. This can be in partnership with the Careers Service as appropriate.
7. Support for effective learning

Advising is teaching and sessions provide a space devoted to learning to learn within your discipline. The background and starting point of each student will be taken into account.

8. Proactive monitoring of student progression  Institutional data on student attendance and performance (as proxies for engagement) can inform advisors’ discussions with students. This discussion can be student led and low tech options can be explored.

Summary of Brookes Scholarship Group Reports on Academic Advising

In 2020-21, OCSLD (now OCAED) formed a Scholarship Group which identified and undertook seven projects exploring the position of Academic Advising at Brookes. These have contributed to the shape of the revised Academic Advising Strategy and Policy and the enhanced provision of Academic Advising activity and governance.

Project titles and leaders

  • An evaluation of the current academic advising provision for Oxford Brookes University BSc Physiotherapy by Physiotherapy students and staff (Belinda Twissell, HLS)
  • The potential role of an Academic Advisee Buddy Group in building a sense of community and enhancing the student experience for BSc (Hons) Nutrition students (Rianne Costello, HLS)
  • Academic Advisors’ Role in supporting students with  Inclusive Support Plans (ISPs). (Carmel Capewell, HSS)
  • How might the Academic Advising role help student nurses develop the required professional values and associated behaviours in preparation for future employment? (Sue Chilton, HLS)
  • The scope of Inclusive Academic Advising in supporting students with mental health needs. (Pras Ramluggun, Rachel Barbaresi, Sarah Mansbridge, HLS)
  • What feedback do academic advisees and their advisors have on the use of a google form containing questions and prompts for discussion during their first individual meeting on the physiotherapy programme? (Carol McNally, HLS)
  • Inclusive academic advising. (Mary Davis, OBBS)

Sincere thanks goes to those who undertook this work. A top level synthesis of findings is presented below. 

Summary findings

  • Students and staff think that Academic Advising activity adds value to the learning/student experience 
  • Both students and staff find it valuable when it works and would like to see practice better supported. 
  • However, there is variation in practice both within and across faculties. 
  • The profile of the Advisee and Advisor roles should be raised, and their value and purpose clearly defined and communicated both to students and to staff. 
  • To do this, clearer guidance and support is needed for staff, including training, especially on issues around inclusion, such as Individual Support Plans and mental health. 

Many of these findings are being addressed by the 2023-24 Advising Strategy and Policy which are reflected in these pages and accompanying training sessions. The authors of the reports or Ben Walker (bwalker@brookes.ac.uk) are happy to be contacted for further information about specific recommendations made.