A Tutorial Fellowship represents the College side of a joint appointment, i.e. an appointment which involves a College component and a University component. The University side is represented by an Associate Professorship1. The appointee is selected and funded jointly by the College(s) concerned and by the relevant division of the University. The joint appointment system is an unusual arrangement in research-intensive universities. Its central feature is that academics of major research reputation are attached to particular Colleges as Tutorial Fellows, where they are members of an interdisciplinary community of moderate size. In those Colleges they teach, and arrange teaching for, a small cohort of very able undergraduates in tutorials (teaching sessions with one, two, or three students) and small classes, monitoring their progress individually over the whole of their course. They also have responsibility for advising a certain number of graduate students in their subject area within their College. Tutorial Fellowships thus hold a key place in the intellectual culture of the collegiate University of Oxford. This document, adopted by the Conference of Colleges, aims to set out the main features of Tutorial Fellowships, and the expectations that Colleges will generally have of Tutorial Fellows.
1 Associate Professorships come in three different forms according to the balance of duties owed to the College and University and formally known as CUF (Common University Fund) Lecturerships, ULs (University Lecturerships), or FLs (Faculty Lecturerships).
The duties of a Tutorial Fellow are not confined to the College. All have an obligation as members of a department or faculty to contribute to research and teaching, and this will usually include lecturing, class teaching, supervision of graduate students and University examining alongside contributing to an internationally excellent research environment. As Associate Professors, the holders of joint appointments will also be expected to contribute to discussion and governance in their faculty or department, serving on committees, revising teaching syllabus materials and reading lists, and taking on administrative roles as needed. All Tutorial Fellows are also members of Congregation, the sovereign legislative body within the University, and have a right to vote on matters before Congregation.
The Colleges have the same interest as departments and faculties in seeking to appoint to Tutorial Fellowships academic staff whose research is or has the potential to be of international standing, and a Tutorial Fellow will be required by the College to engage in research and publication at the highest level. The Colleges and the University work together to appoint outstanding researchers who are willing and able to engage in undergraduate and graduate teaching, student support and pastoral work, and administrative duties. Colleges offer extensive support for research, funding regular sabbatical leave and providing a system of allowances, together with rooms and library facilities, all within a welcoming, interdisciplinary community.
Teaching and support
Those appointed to Tutorial Fellowships are required to perform for the College or for the benefit of the College the stint of undergraduate tutorial teaching specified in their contract or further particulars, under the general oversight of each College’s Senior Tutor. The timing of tutorials and the exact numbers of students in each tutorial group are usually matters for the individual tutor, though each College will have established conventions, and the Senior Tutor and subject colleagues will provide advice and examples of past good practice including arrangements such as intercollegiate teaching exchanges which are commonly used to provide expert coverage of different aspects of (or subjects within) a discipline. Tutorial teaching is not the same as lecturing: the intention is to engage the students in small groups in intellectual interaction and creative dialogue so as to help them develop an independent, critical, and well-informed approach to their discipline. This approach is underpinned by regularly setting written work, typically weekly essays or problem sheets supported as necessary with recommended reading. Assessment and feedback on that written work is given by the tutors orally during the tutorials as well as by more conventional written comments or marking. Appointees should have the qualities required to relate effectively to students and their academic and personal needs.
Tutorial Fellows are generally assigned sole or joint tutorial responsibility for a defined group of students in their subject area within their College. This work typically involves the following tasks to support the students’ education:
(a) arranging tutorial and/or class teaching for each student in each term, whether the teaching is done by the tutor or another, and ensuring that teaching is of an appropriate standard;
(b) monitoring students’ progress through termly written reports, and by means of collections (regular tests of performance) and/or assessment of vacation work;
(c) pastoral support of undergraduates reading the subject in question;
(d) interviewing candidates who apply to read the subject at the College, including arranging for help from other suitable interviewers and making the final selection of who should be admitted;
(e) writing references for students, and directing them to appropriate careers advice;
(f) recommending and selecting books and online materials for their subject area in the College Library;
(g) delegating responsibilities (a)-(f) above when on sabbatical leave, in consultation with the Senior Tutor and subject colleagues.
Tutorial Fellows are supported in these tasks by the administrative staff of the College and by the College Officers.
Tutorial Fellows normally do their tutorial teaching in rooms provided for them in Colleges or in their Departments or Faculties and should be easily contactable through their Colleges during Term (although it is recognised that conferences and other commitments may mean that Tutorial Fellows are sometimes away from Oxford for short periods in Term).
Oxford Colleges offer strong pastoral support to all their students. Here Tutorial Fellows play a key role, not only for their own undergraduates as indicated above, but also by acting as ‘College Adviser’ in College for a number of graduate students in their disciplinary area (this being additional to the formal academic supervision of research students arranged by the University with a suitable expert very possibly from another College). While Tutorial Fellows are often the first point of contact for students who are having difficulties, there are, of course, experts available when professional help is needed. Tutorial Fellows work closely with College Officers and with staff with appropriate medical and welfare training to ensure that students are supported appropriately and referred to professional services if that is necessary.
Oxford Colleges are self-governing communities with wide responsibilities. Tutorial Fellows are normally members of College Governing Bodies, the sovereign bodies of Colleges. They are usually Charity Trustees as well as employees. In many Colleges, major College Officerships (Senior Tutor, Tutor for Admissions, Tutor for Graduates, Dean) are held by Fellows specially appointed to undertake those roles on a full-time basis. However, in some Colleges, such officerships are taken on by Tutorial Fellows on a full-time or part-time basis for agreed limited periods in return for additional stipend and/or a specified remission of tutorial teaching duties. In these various ways, Tutorial Fellows are expected to contribute to the governance and running of their Colleges, though Tutorial Fellows will not normally be asked to take on significant administrative duties in their probationary period (or in the first five years, if their probationary period is shorter than that).