1. Relationships with Academic Staff

An important aspect of your life as a student in a British University will be your relationship with members of staff.

We cannot list "do's" and "don'ts" as expectations and "rules" vary so much from department to department and from individual to individual.

The relationship with some lecturers, tutors, supervisors will be formal with titles and surnames being used at all times. Other staff like to be called by their first name and may socialise with their students on a very informal basis.

If your not sure how to address a member of academic staff you can ask them 'What should I call you?' or ask the departmental secretary or other students how to address the academic staff member.

Alternatively you can listed to other students talking to the academic to find out what address is used.

Disagreement and discussion is acceptable and even expected as long as you can back up your opinions and ideas.

A good lecturer/supervisor does not want students to agree with her/him all the time. Equally these staff do have experience with many students. You should seek and value their opinions on your work.

2. Relationships with other staff

Non-academic staff should also be treated with the same couresies as academic staff.

Some students come from societies which treat people who clean, deal with security or serve food etc differently. It can be difficult to adjust to a society where domestic assistants, catering staff, porters are valued members of staff who expect to be treated with respect.


Clerical and technical staff also hold responsible jobs and are in positions where they often have to tell a student what s/he can or cannot do. To those coming from other cultures where only the boss really has any authority, this can be confusing and result in behaviour (towards the secretary or technician) which the British can interpret as rudeness.

It takes some time to learn what behaviour is expected and acceptable. Unfortunately barriers are often set up early on in a working relationship which can prevent it ever working.
It is important to realise that British culture judges people as polite or otherwise according to how they treat cleaners, porters, secretaries, caterers as well as how they treat professors.

3. Their Relationship with you

It is hoped that all students are treated with respect by all members of staff. Some international students may be very wealthy or hold very senior positions in their own country bank managers, university lecturers, doctors, senior civil servants and so on. In many countries, such a position would entitle an individual to a special kind of respect and deference from those around her/him. Some students with such backgrounds find it difficult to adjust to being `just another studentī. They might expect members of staff to treat them in a more formal and humble way. However, your position and rank in your home country is unlikely to have this effect on your life in Britain. This is not meant as a sign of disrespect but can be hard to adjust to nevertheless.