Keep calm and carry on

13 Mar 2017 - 09:57:36 in Achievement

“I’m Craig Watterson and I manage the School of Engineering and Computer Science’s pastoral support programme. And no, ‘pastoral support’ is not about learning how to milk cows! It’s actually about helping all first year students with the exciting transition to university life.

A student’s first year of Engineering or Computer Science is crucial. It’s a major life transition. You have to be self-motivated for the many tests and exams. On top of that, you might have left home, shifted country, begun relationships – and need to work and have a social life as well.

I work closely with our lecturers and the Associate Dean of Students, and I manage two senior tutors who help with academic support for students through labs and tutorials, as well as evening study sessions. Pastoral care is about engaging students on a personal level so that they are in a good headspace to learn.

In the first two weeks, all new Engineering students take a diagnostic test so we can get an idea of their maths skills. Next, I contact students to make sure they are taking the right courses, and to make them aware of all the extra help available. We know that if students engage with pastoral care early on they gain confidence and quickly lose the fear of asking for help – it’s about providing a safe, caring and inclusive environment for students to thrive in.

Throughout the year I continue to monitor students’ academic progress, and where issues arise, I provide early intervention to help students get on top of things. This is usually an informal and confidential chat where we discuss what is going on and work together to find a way forward.

This can often be as simple as helping you get a time extension, or knowing who to talk to about dyslexia, or arranging to contact a course coordinator. I have extensive knowledge about all the services offered by the University, from academic support and social clubs, through to financial and health services.

I also know all about the staff, courses and processes within the School of Engineering and Computer Science. In fact, I can probably talk to you about pretty much anything you need! It’s all about making you feel like you can come and chat any time about your studies and how it’s all going for you.

I have an open-door policy when it comes to getting help and advice. No question is a dumb question at university! If I can’t help, I will direct you to someone who can. The best thing to do if you have a friend who needs help is to bring them to see me. Together, we can overcome the many challenges of university life.

You are going to have fun and learn a lot during your first year. We have some amazing lecturers that are simply inspirational. You’ll be playing with programming and even designing and building functional robots from day one. Our student Engineering club also offers fun social events such as quizzes, paintball and LAN parties.

For more info or to have a chat, email me at or visit me in CO253.”