Warwick plans to replace Residential Life Tutors with live-in third year undergrads

A petition has called for the uni to halt the changes and review their proposal


The University of Warwick is planning to replace experienced Residential Life Tutors (RLTs) with third year undergraduate students, who will live in the flats alongside those they have a duty of care towards.

An anonymous RLT has created a petition asking for Warwick to halt the changes and keep the current RLT system in place for at least one year, until a more thorough and transparent consultation has been conducted, and the current system reviewed. It currently has over 500 signatures.

In response, the uni stated student welfare was a top priority and that the proposed changes would create more opportunities for students’ personal development and growth.

Currently, RLTs are university staff or postgraduate students who live in flats separately from the students they have a duty of care towards. They are responsible for student wellbeing in halls of residence and are available to respond to incidents at all hours. Incidents can range from noise complaints and students locking themselves out of their rooms, to students needing support for panic attacks, sexual assaults and mental health crises.

The new model proposes third year students will act as Residential Community Assistants (RCAs), and will only be available in shifts between 5pm-11pm. After this time, two RCAs will serve a limited night duty for the entire campus. Team managers will live up to 30 minutes away, limiting their ability to respond to incidents immediately, as the current system facilitates.

The petition identifies numerous issues with these proposed changes. Third-year undergraduates will have “limited experience” in supporting students and will also “be contending with exams and the pressures of planning for their lives after graduating.”

The petition identifies many issues with the proposed changes. It currently has over 500 signatures

The petition claims out-of-hours support for students will be greatly limited if RCAs are not available at all hours. It argues: “This will have a detrimental impact on student mental health and wellbeing as they will no longer have access to the 24/7 support that the RLT provides, either in emergencies or as a stopgap when accessing professional mental health services.”

Popular Warwick confession page, WarwickLove, has shown its support for the petition

The petition also claims the new RCA system will result in significant responsibility for emergency support and discipline being transferred to the Community Safety Team, who are “already over-stretched, and considered unapproachable by many students.”

Another issue identified is the risk of “sharking”, or third years exploiting their position of power over freshers, often women, for sex. The petition claims third year students living with first years makes the RCA proposal a “potential risk to the safety of female students, in particular.”

It also claims the proposals will disproportionately affect disabled, LGBTQIA+, minority, neurodivergent and otherwise vulnerable students, who are more likely to require personalised support outside of the proposed RCA hours.

Comments under the petition have expressed their disapproval of the proposed changes, calling them “disruptive”, “ridiculous” and a “great detriment to the student experience at Warwick”.

Comments under the petition criticised the proposed changes

A University of Warwick spokesperson said: “The welfare of our students is our top priority. Our new approach to supporting students in their accommodation is responsive to changing student expectations and provides clarity and a consistent student experience, which will in turn help safeguard our community of staff and students.

“Support will be more visible, more accessible, Residential Community Assistants will facilitate events and activities that provide proactive wellbeing support and it will be clearer what students can expect from the service.

“The current Residential Life Team (RLT) system was set up in 1965 and provides welfare and support to students, currently on a voluntary basis. We reviewed the system to examine what we do, and how we do it and conducted a broad-based consultation that drew on feedback from our community, including students and existing RLT volunteers. We looked across the sector and incorporated best practice from other institutions into a new evidence-informed model that is peer-led.

“From September, students with relevant and recent experience will be employed to help their peers, creating a sense of a belonging. More opportunities will be available to our students and this will support their transition to independence, as well as providing space for personal development and growth for residents.

“The University is hugely grateful to all members of the Residential Life Team (RLT) who have volunteered their time and the tremendous amount of brilliant work they have done, over decades. Many students will have hugely benefitted from the significant contribution of individuals within the team.

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