Tutoring During Transition: Students' Experiences and Preferences Towards Personal Tutoring in UK Higher Education


  • Karla Drew Staffordshire University


personal tutor, higher education, university transition


In highlighting the difficulties and challenges associated with the transition into higher education (HE), the current study looked to explore students lived experiences and perceptions of personal tutoring during their first year of university. The personal tutor may play an important role in supporting students to successfully integrate and adapt to university. In addition, the study looked to understand students’ preferences and experiences of online or face-to-face personal tutoring as tutors and tutees were required to move online during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Utilising a mixed methods approach, quantitative (e.g., questionnaire; n = 203) and qualitative (e.g., semi-structured interviews; = 6) data were gathered from undergraduate students at a post-92 UK university. Once both qualitative and quantitative data were analysed, three meta-inferences were developed, guided by the aims of the research. First, students highlighted the multifaceted role of the personal tutor, expecting tutors to provide a range of different types of support (e.g., pastoral, academic, professional), whilst being flexible with their provision to meet the specific needs of the student. Second, students perceived the personal tutor to be a crucial source of support during the transition period but also sought consistent support throughout the duration of their degree. Finally, while students recognised the challenges with the rapid shift to online learning, students preferred face-to-face tutoring as it was perceived to facilitate a better tutor-tutee relationship compared to online interactions. Overall, the current paper offers insights into the provision of personal tutoring and whether effective relationships and communities can be developed virtually to facilitate the transition into HE. The implications for HEI’s and the provision of personal tutoring are also discussed.