Student Advising at FASoS

From left to right, Raf Widdershoven, Saskia van Bergen, Pia Harbers, and Miranda van den Boorn.

By Pia Harbers, Saskia van Bergen, Miranda van den Boorn & Raf Widdershoven

As FASoS student advisers, we are involved in all stages of the student life cycle, from Open Days and Introduction to MA choice, and career planning. At the end of every year, we write a report based on the data we have gathered. In 2021/2022 we have had over 2500 consultations with students. We hope our observations can tell you a bit more about the issues and questions our students run into.

When students start their programme, we guide them throughout the programme and help them to become a successful student and also personally grow. We narrow the gap between high school and studying at university and we help them to navigate through their Bachelor or Master programme, the faculty and the university. As student advisers, we tailor services as much as possible to the needs of the individual student, with a focus on personal development, self-reflection, competence development, study progress, and well-being.

The quality assurance processes focussing on student guidance are based on student feedback, analysing data, and creating ample opportunity to learn more about students’ needs. We gather these data via individual student guidance, but also by monitoring study progress in different cohorts.

In the academic year 2021/2022 we have seen 969 individual students, this means that we have been in touch with 51% of all FASoS students. Last year we saw 54% of the BA students, 42% of the pre-MA students and 36% of the MA students at FASoS. The majority of the students (79%) consulted us between one and three times. Some (7%) needed more guidance and came to us more than six times in a year. More information about the topics we discussed with students and how this compared to 2020/2021 can be seen in the chart below.

As the chart shows, in 2021/2022 most consultations (an average of 46%) focused on study progress and study (career) planning, followed by academic problems (22%), personal issues (18%), and regulations (13%). Compared to 2020/2021, there was an increase in the category academic problems. We assume that this might have to do with COVID-related causes.

The majority of students reaches out to us themselves if they have a question or a problem. There is, however, also a group of students that we invite ourselves. A few times a year we check students’ progress and reach out to those who are falling behind. Next to this, we monitor different groups of students, for example special needs students, those with a residence permit for the purpose of studying, or students who were allowed to continue their studies with a negative study advice.

Another example of our pro-active approach relates to attendance. In case students are regularly absent in tutorial groups (more than three times), and the tutor cannot get into contact with them, we are informed and reach out to the students to ask how they are doing. In many cases, we experience that students respond well to us and are pleased with us reaching out to them.

Our pro-active approach makes us more visible to students. We often hear from students that our invitations help them to feel connected to the university and the FASoS community. Students feel looked-after and cared for, and we find that very important in times that more and more students struggle with mental health issues (RIVM, 2021).

Next to our core activities mentioned above, we are part of the mentoring programme of all bachelors and offer workshops/seminars for FASoS staff. We are also available for staff if they want to discuss individual student cases.

We hope that we gave you a bit more insight in our daily activities and we are looking forward to see you at one of the staff workshops next academic year!

About the authors

Pia Harbers, Saskia van Bergen, Miranda van den Boorn and Raf Widdershoven are student advisors at Maastricht University’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.