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The College Advisor System
Every student is allocated a College Advisor who is normally a Fellow of College. The College Advisor offers you the opportunity to access general support within College which is supplementary and complementary to that provided by your department. Attempts are normally made to match you with an Advisor in a similar subject area, but this is not always possible, nor is it essential for fulfilling the functions listed below.
Role of College Advisors
While most graduate students are likely to seek advice and help on both academic and other issues from their Faculty/Departmental supervisors with whom they are often in regular contact, there are five main areas where College Advisors can also be of value:
By monitoring your progress via the termly University academic supervisor’s reports (Graduate Supervision Reporting), identifying any issues, and being available for regular consultation on academic or other matters.
By offering another point of view if a problem arises in the relationship between you and your Faculty/Department or academic supervisor, and where necessary initiating mediation, or organising intervention within the wider University.
By consulting with the Senior Tutor if you appear to be experiencing continuous problems with academic work.
By supporting you if a major crisis occurs in relation to accommodation, family problems or other issues which fall outside the scope of academic direction. In more challenging situations this may involve guiding you to other appropriate persons for support with non–academic related worries within College and University.
By explaining the quirks of the organisation of Oxford University, or, for some, life in Britain.
In addition, the College Advisor may be able to offer you advice on academic-related matters such as: applications for research funding, conferences and seminar attendance, publications and academic career planning. However, the College Advisor is not responsible for performing the role your Department or Faculty Supervisor(s), and is not responsible for directing your academic work or giving detailed academic guidance.
For the great majority of students, the difficulties mentioned above never arise, but it is important that all students know how to get help if it is needed. Having a supportive, accessible College Advisor can make a very big difference to a student who is in difficulty.
Contacts between Advisor and student
Notwithstanding changes in guidance that may be required due to the pandemic, if you are resident in Oxford you will be able to meet your College Advisor in person if they are also in residence. This may be over lunch or a dinner or for tea / coffee, depending on what works best for you both. If it is not possible to meet in person, your advisor should contact you by email or video call at least once a term. In all situations your advisor should check your progress using the Graduate Supervision Reporting system each term and be able to respond to any questions you have, including signposting you to further sources of support.
Other sources of advice and help within College
Academic supervisors are expected to submit termly reports on the work, progress and likely success of students working under them. The Principal, Vice-Principal and Senior Tutor see these reports and offer to meet all students individually at least once a year to discuss their progress with them. Students are free to see any of these College officers at any time to discuss problems, whether academic, personal or financial. The Dean for Equality and Diversity (Dr Clara Barker) and Accounts Manager are happy to assist with any problems relating to their particular responsibilities.