Blog post

My personal academic tutor’s vital guidance

Student Ioannis Dimakopoulos explains how his personal academic tutor has played a vital role in his University of Derby experience.

By Ioannis Thomas-Dimakopoulos - 2 March 2020

One of the most important people I've met at the University of Derby is my personal academic tutor (PAT). A PAT is an academic staff member that is allocated to every student within the first three weeks of their arrival and will offer one-to-one personalised guidance throughout your time at University.

Made to feel welcome

My personal academic tutor really made me feel comfortable and welcome when I first came to the University. I really needed this as an international student coming into an unknown environment. That is one of the benefits of PATs. They are helping new students transition and settle into university, making sure that they make most of their time at Derby.

My PAT and I would meet up throughout the year to reflect on my progress and challenge me in my development, in my academic studies and in the activities that were taking place within the University that I was taking part in. For example, my PAT gave me advice about a placement I was looking for. He also helped me to find the right staff within the University to help me to develop my CV for this placement.

My PAT supported and advised me on my studies in relation to some academic challenges I was facing, like how to manage my time well and how to manage stress and instead have some time off every week to relax. He explained to me the importance of academic references in each piece of coursework I am writing because, when I first came to the University, I wasn't familiar with this process when writing papers and assignments.

My personal development

Before coming to university, I took the time to decide which course I wanted to study. I was confident that I wanted to study Business because I really liked the idea of working as a business consultant or gaining the experience in a big corporation.

The only concern that I had when I picked Business Management was that it was based only on coursework, with no exams. That was a big challenge for me because I knew my area of development was to improve my essay writing. Within the past two years I have made huge progress in my coursework and business report structures. They have become much clearer and better structured. That is purely because of the guidance and challenge I have received from my PAT and the workshops which the university provides to support essay writing.

In my first year at university, I was a little bit concerned about the language difference and how hard I would find projects and presentations and seminars as an international student. My PAT boosted my confidence and helped me to understand that the tutors are aware of my needs as an international student in my first weeks.

PATs are key to your university experience

PATs are important for every student. No matter if you are international or from the UK. It is always good to know you have someone there that you can spend time with to ask all the questions that you might not be able to ask in a seminar or lecture.

My personal advice would be for every student to arrange meetings frequently with their designated PAT. Be confident and open to ask for help and share your concerns and feeling so your PAT can provide the most effective advice which will better aid your journey.

About the author

Student Ioannis on campus

Ioannis Thomas-Dimakopoulos
Business Management student

I am from Greece and I am studying Business Management at the University of Derby. I have been a student rep for my course for two consecutive years. I want to share my experiences and my thoughts as an international student so others can relate and also to encourage others not to be afraid to take on new challenges in their lives.