The University reference

The University reference

As a Personal Academic Tutor you are expected to write a University reference for the student when requested to do so; including for summer jobs, work experience or internships.  It is, therefore, important to raise the subject of references with students throughout their programme of study and to maintain a dialogue with them about this.  Ask students to keep you informed and to provide you with an up-to-date CV or record of their achievements and details of the job application if they wish you to provide a reference.  It is important that the reference provided is fair, balanced, accurate and complete, so try to ensure you have all the relevant information available to you.

Employers will expect references to emphasise strengths and may assume the worst if comments are ambiguous so use clear, crisp and straightforward language.  They may also expect you to be able to comment on the student’s employability skills, such as time management, thoroughness, problem solving, resilience, trustworthiness, etc.  These questions are best answered on the basis of evidence from the student’s academic record, general approach to academic work, relationship with staff and other students, and extra curricula activity.  If you are asked for opinion or to provide information you cannot verify, make this clear in the language you use, e.g. ‘In my opinion she is excellent at tiddlywinks’ or ‘I have no reason to doubt her honesty’ or ‘She tells me she has represented Worcestershire at tiddlywinks’.    References are not considered confidential documents so write as though the student will also be reading it.  Equally, you should avoid revealing sensitive information covered by data protection policy, such as the student’s health, religious beliefs or, even, court convictions.  If in doubt about these matters, seek advice from the Academic Registrar.