Academic advising is about more than talking through any problems you may have with your course; it’s aimed at helping you develop personal, academic and professional skills. Advising meetings can help you improve your academic performance and make you aware of possible areas for professional and personal growth. Academic advisors can help you navigate assessment feedback and develop action plans to improve your performance in the future.

From the start of your programme you will have a named advisor, who is a member of academic staff. If you are an undergraduate or taught postgraduate student, you will be allocated an academic advisor from your department; for postgraduate research students the role is undertaken by your research supervisor, coordinated by the Graduate School and a network of departmental postgraduate research tutors. 

You and your advisor should set clear boundaries and communicate through a mutually preferred method, such as email or published office hours. You should meet three times a year to discuss your academic studies, co-curricular activities that could enhance your profile, and to reflect on any issues that may impact on your overall performance at university.

At GCU we have developed, and use, the PPACT standard of academic advising.

PPACT academic standards

At GCU, we have developed a standard of academic advising (PPACT) which is used across the University. The PPACT standard sets out that academic advising should be:

  • Personal: focused on reflection and on reviewing relevant personal development
  • Professional:  focused on career planning and employability, leadership and achievement
  • Academically informed: focused on feedback/forward, and on reviewing and discussing academic results
  • Consolidated: evaluating your learning in all the areas identified above
  • Transitional: reflecting on your learning and moving forward


The PPACT record and action plan

Your programme team will provide you with a student-owned record and action plan. This is the PPACT standard of academic advising and should be completed in collaboration with your academic advisor over the course of an academic year. Some members of staff may use peer and group support as part of the academic advising process, and the PPACT form has been designed for use in both individual and group settings. You can use it to record any individual learning resulting from each advising meeting, whether it was in a group or one-to-one session with your advisor.

We recognise that some students (part-time/taught postgraduates) may already be in positions of leadership and, therefore, some sections of the PPACT form may not be applicable to you. Your academic advisor will work with you to identify the most appropriate sections to use to ensure that the advising process is relevant to your learning and development needs.

Completing and updating the PPACT record and action plan is the responsibility of each individual student. In accordance with GCU data protection guidance, the form should not be retained by academics, either electronically or as hard copy.

Academic advising sessions

Academic advising sessions should be underpinned by reflection and your advisor may use the following key questions to trigger discussion:

1st meeting

  1. What are your personal development goals for this academic year?
  2. Can you identify any areas of academic concern for discussion?
  3. Outside of study, what are you currently doing? What do you plan next?

2nd meeting

  1. Can you update me on your progress towards the personal development goals discussed in meeting 1?
  2. Reflecting on your academic performance, are there key areas of feedback that you would like to discuss?
  3. What are you learning about yourself and other people from your academic work and other areas of life as a student?

3rd meeting

  1. Can we reflect and evaluate your overall progress over the year in terms of your personal, academic and professional development?
  2. Where do you feel you are at it terms of working towards your future career?  What are you going to do next?
  3. Are there any outstanding academic issues that you will take forward into the next academic year?

From the end of Year 1 (and all subsequent years) the action plan should be carried forward into the next academic level to form the basis of the first meeting of the new session.

Academic advising and career planning

A proactive attitude throughout your time at university is the best way to ensure that you use your degree to enhance your career prospects. We encourage you to use the resources of the University Careers Service and the questions below may help as a guide for discussion during your academic advising sessions:

Year one – is about getting started

  • Looking ahead, there’s no getting away from the fact that any employer wants you to show that you used these years as a student to their best advantage. What are you doing about that – joining clubs or societies, volunteering, part-time work?
  • What are you learning about yourself and other people from your academic work and other areas of life as a student? We call that graduate attributes.
  • Where do you feel you’re at in terms of working towards your future career? What are you going to do next?

Year two – you should be establishing your direction

  • Between second and third year could be a great summer to make a change and show employers that you can go out of your comfort zone and be proactive. Have a think about a range of summer opportunities – an internship, going abroad, changing to a different kind of part-time work to see a different kind of business.
  • What are you learning about careers, business/industry and about yourself from your part-time work and other activities?
  • Where do you feel you’re at in terms of working towards your future career? What are you going to do next?

Year three – moving forward with career planning

  • How accurate is your understanding of your experience, skills and attributes at this stage?
  • How well have you researched the job you’d most like to do and other career options?
  • Have you registered with the Careers Service vacancies service and identified other sources of new graduate vacancies?

Final year – application for jobs

  • Is your CV good to go?
  • Are you organised for making applications to advertised graduate positions and to network and make speculative applications?
  • Are you ready for interviews?