Guidance for communicating with your Academic Advisor

We are probably all feeling a bit more vulnerable and uncertain than we are used to so don’t be afraid to contact your Academic Adviser for support. 

What can I talk to my advisor about? 

You should feel free to contact your advisor, but your Academic Advisor should make contact with you via email (or other means for example through an invite to Collaborate through a Bb module) to check-in with you and arrange contact. Do please look out for this contact and respond, even if it is just to let your advisor know that you are ok. The contact is about more than that however: 

Remember that your Advisor is there to support you with your: 

  • academic progress 
  • future plans
  • wellbeing & anything affecting your ability to study and reach your potential

Your advisor will be happy for you to contact them about anything. They don’t know everything and unless your support falls within their expertise, they will need to work with you to find solutions. Remember that: 

  • When things are going well they will help you to identify your academic, future and personal goals/aims and discuss ways you can achieve them even in these difficult circumstances

  • If you are finding things difficult, they will try to understand any problems you are experiencing, and if you are feeling unwell or vulnerable they will guide you to the most appropriate service or resources. They can also just listen. 

  • In some circumstances your Advisor may need to refer you on to other university services, but they will always check that is ok with you first (unless you are considered at risk to yourself or others). If you are in crisis or a more vulnerable state than normal, then your advisor will give you more support in accessing the resources you need. 

Tips for interacting effectively and professionally with your Academic Advisor

  • If you are unable to make a time that has been suggested for a meeting/virtual contact; please respond and explain that. Always respond and let your advisor know you have received the invitation even if you can’t make the meeting. We understand that particularly under the current circumstances you may have extra demands on your time (e.g. caring for siblings/children) or be finding life at home more stressful; so do let us know if you cannot attend the meeting virtually and you and your advisor can try to identify a different time.

  • If you cannot access a digital platform that your advisor has suggested you use for a meeting, just let them know and suggest an alternative. We understand that not all students have reliable WIFI or devices. We will find a way to communicate effectively. 

  • If there is a particular topic or issue you would like to discuss in your virtual meeting, it will be helpful to let your advisor know in advance – that way they can prepare and find resources if needed. 

  • If you don’t have anything in particular to discuss – feel free to ask your advisor for an ‘agenda’ for your meeting so that you know what to expect. It can be daunting not knowing what your advisor wants to meet about so don’t be afraid to ask. 

  • If you are not finding your interactions helpful or easy to manage, contact your programme’s Senior Academic Advisor (or ask your Programme Director if you don’t know who that is) for advice and if there is another advisor who is free to support you. 

What if I contact my Advisor and I don’t receive a reply within 48 working hours?

It is important that your advisor or someone on the programme team responds to you so never just accept that you haven’t had a response. There are several reasons why responses may not be made within our standard timeframe for responding, so it is best to do one of the following: 

  • Resend your email with a subject line such as “Following up on my request for a meeting”. If advisors have missed your email, they will be very pleased that you have flagged this.

  • Contact another member of the programme team (e.g. your Programme Director, or administrator) to let them know you haven’t heard back from your Advisor (giving their name). This is important at this time, because staff might be unwell or finding it difficult to work standard hours due to unexpected demands on their personal time. This type of communication will not interpreted as a complaint (unless you make it clear that it is); rather it will be a prompt to ensure that you get a response.