Student support system

This page focuses on the element ‘Student support system’. While not part of the formal curriculum, it has a critical and complementary role in the areas of student development, employability, and careers.


A student support system that is motivating and supportive in the way that: personal and professional development is handled; career discussions are enabled; and further opportunities and services promoted and signposted.

Relevance for student development, employability, and careers

Staff do not need to be careers and employability experts in order to have an important and positive role in students’ development, employability, and careers.  Staff involved in supporting students can ask and seed questions about students’ thinking and activity in these areas; this is an effective way to encourage all students to engage.  Signposting to expert resources such as the Careers Service, ensures these questions and conversations can have a supported and meaningful next step.

Tips and things to consider

Below you will find some key tips and guidance to consider when incorporating student development, employability and career related topics in the student support system.

For specific guidance on how to support your students see links below:

For a group session (pdf)

Advice for staff supporting taught students


Examples of practice in the University of Edinburgh

There is diverse practice across the University that can be used to stimulate thinking about what is possible in your setting. 

Below is a link to a range of relevant practice from the Teaching Matters blog.  The examples come from multiple parts of the student experience and relate either partially or substantially to this element.  New articles are automatically added so check back in the future to discover some of the latest practice.

Teaching Matters: relevant articles


Further reading and external perspectives

The references below provide some background on this element as well as some of the external drivers and motivations for including it. 


There is a wide variety of models for effective student support and many pressures for individual staff members in these systems.  The references below bring together perspectives on how student support systems or equivalent are a unique opportunity to work with students on their personal development planning (PDP).  The references also highlight how both students and institutional systems expect staff to be willing and effective in signposting to other support services.  Lastly, we also see how the University and most individual schools emphasise the desire for the student support system to develop our students and prompt questions about careers.