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Cambridge students


Some students experience cultural, health, or personal problems during their studies. It is particularly important for students on short courses to act immediately if they are experiencing difficulties.

Your College is responsible for your pastoral (or Tutorial) support regardless of whether you are an undergraduate or a graduate student.

Tutorial support implies general oversight of student welfare, in the widest sense. Individual Colleges have various ways of delivering it, so that while in some there may be a single person with this particular remit, in others it may be delivered by several people, each with certain students to look after, or specific areas of responsibility (e.g. admissions). Hence a College may involve a variety of individuals, e.g. Tutors (who are generally Fellows of the College, and may have separate academic responsibilities within the College and the University), nurses or chaplains. However it is delivered, tutorial provision is an essential component of collegiate life.

A Tutor has a wide variety of responsibilities which may be grouped together under the three headings below. Because their role is to provide all-round support and guidance to the individuals in their care, it would not be feasible to provide an exhaustive list of their responsibilities. However, listed below are some of the regular ways in which Tutors, together with Tutorial Office Staff, Directors of Studies, nurses, and chaplains fulfil their role. Clearly some of these functions entail strict confidentiality.

1. Pastoral


  • Introducing and welcoming new students to Cambridge and College life
  • Ongoing social contact for College-based talks, workshops, and/or parties
  • Personal contact/support – a friendly face

Personal wellbeing

  • Personal development
  • Contact for all health matters and problems
  • Link with GP, hospitals, counsellors
  • Assistance with reasonable adjustments and exam access arrangements for disabled students
  • Help in developing transferable skills


  • Provision of advice and support with accommodation issues

2. Administrative/financial

  • Provision of advice on identifying and obtaining financial assistance

Liaison with other bodies

  • External: e.g. Local Education Authorities, Student Loans Company, graduate funding bodies, etc.
  • Internal: e.g. Departments, central administration, Board of Graduate Studies, sources of funding, and applications for examination allowances or to intermit


  • Special examination arrangements
  • Complaints/appeals
  • Change of course
  • Intermission, disregarding of terms

3. Academic

  • Regular oversight and review of progress
  • Advice on study methods, and support in the event of difficulties with courses or teachers
  • Initial careers advice and provision of references
  • Liaison between student and supervisor/Director of Studies/Department

Your College Tutor will treat matters in confidence, but may seek  your consent to discuss the matter with other staff if he or she feels it is necessary (for example, the Course Director, a medical practitioner, counsellor, or other health worker).

Some pastoral matters are difficult to distinguish from academic problems. Your supervisor or other members of your supervisory team should be prepared to offer help in circumstances that affect your attendance or performance on your course. They may consult your College Tutor, but this is normally done only with your consent.

If you feel dissatisfied with the advice offered by your College Tutor, you may wish to consult the Senior Tutor of your College, or the CUSU Student Advice Service.

Further information on the role of Colleges in supporting graduate students is available in the form of a statement setting out College provision for graduate students in the University of Cambridge.