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Recruitment and development of year tutors in Higher Education

Antoniadou, M and Crowder, M (2016) Recruitment and development of year tutors in Higher Education. In: University Forum for Human Resource Development, 08 June 2016 - 10 June 2016, Manchester. (In Press)

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Abstract

Despite the fact that personal academic tutors are routinely assigned to students (Wheeler and Birtle, 1993), the extensive time pressures involved in monitoring and supporting students have resulted in the introduction of Year Tutors (YTs) to help students confront the various difficulties they face in the current educational context (Willmot and Lloyd, 2005). Consequently, university managers and HR professionals need to ensure that the ‘right people’ are in these roles, and that their personal development takes centre stage to allow them to grow and adapt to the ever-changing educational environment. However, there is a paucity of research into how YTs are recruited and developed. This study explores these areas, and thereby provides clarity to recruiters and to the people actively involved in the role. This study examines the recruitment and selection processes to employ and develop members of academic staff as Year Tutors (YTs). It presents an empirical study of the YTs system in one faculty of a large university in the north-west of England, drawing upon in-depth interviews and focus groups with students, YTs and senior management. Findings reveal that the university under study has no formal strategies or procedures for the recruitment of YTs, with allocations being made simply on the basis of staff workload. In effect, if a member of staff has a heavy workload, they cannot be a YT, and for those who are YTs, their own personal qualities become significant, and they effectively shape much of the role themselves. From the students’ perspective, this may result in inappropriate or disengaged YTs, leaving them puzzled as to who to contact. The study’s findings, therefore, have significant implications for both Human Resource Development (HRD) practice and for University management, especially those with large programmes.

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