14 Use Referrals When You Need Assistance

Consider a situation in tutoring when you might run into a problem that is beyond the scope of your background as a tutor. What potential student issues are of concern to you? These might include:

  • Personal Issues
  • Developmental Issues
  • Relationship Issues
  • Family Issues

Finding the right help for your tutee is a special skill that you are developing as a tutor.

Referring Learners to other Professionals

KPU has many other trained professionals who are available to help learners. Have a look at our University Resources below for more details about other learner support services in the university.

University Resources

Sometimes, learners need help with things that the Learning Centres are not equipped to deal with, such as personal problems or financial problems. Tutors are not usually qualified to help with such matters. Also, it’s not part of the job. In cases like these, it is useful to be familiar with other University resources that may be of help to a learner. This section discusses some of the resources we most commonly refer learners to. If you feel a referral might be a good idea but you are unsure, consult with your supervisor or make an appointment for the learner with a faculty Learning Strategist in the Learning Centre.


Although we are qualified to help learners with academic matters, there are some instances when it’s necessary to refer the learner back to his instructor. For example, it’s not uncommon for a learner with an essay to need further clarification on the assignment instructions. In a case like this, it is often better to send him back to the instructor for specific details. Tutors can sometimes only guess what the teacher wants; we cannot be completely sure. Another example is when a learner is concerned about feedback from an instructor on a particular assignment. We can discuss the feedback with learners and perhaps clarify comments, but if either you or the learner is unsure about the meaning of the comments or about how to rectify mistakes, the instructor should be asked. Again, you can only speculate what teachers mean. You can’t always be certain.

Sometimes learners are hesitant about approaching their instructors. In some cultures, learners never speak to teachers outside the classroom and never question their comments. At KPU, it is part of an instructor’s job to talk to learners outside class, and most successful learners take advantage of that. Make sure learners know that it’s their right to visit instructors during office hours and discuss any problems or concerns.

Academic Advising

Academic Advisors are available to provide and explain educational and occupational information to students engaged in weighing career alternatives. Advisors are also available to guide students in selecting and planning effective programs of study through individual consultation and group course planning sessions. For general information please visit: http://www.kpu.ca/advising

Student Enrolment Services (SES)

SES provides day-to-day, student-centred services related to the areas of admission, registration, student records, and graduation, providing counter service, including cashiering functions, on all four campuses. In addition to providing one-on-one assistance in-person at the front counters, the SES team provides telephone and email support to students. http://www.kpu.ca/ses


Often, learners need books and other sources that are not available at the Learning Centres. For instance, if someone is doing a research paper, he will need to find specific books, journal articles, and statistics that can only be found in the library. However, some learners are not familiar with the organization of the library, or how to make use of its many resources. In cases like this, librarians can be very helpful. They can give information and instructions on using the online catalog, the Internet, and journal abstracts. They are friendly and willing to help, especially if learners come to them with specific questions. http://www.kpu.ca/library

Kwantlen Student Association (KSA)

If students have questions about the Multipass/Upass or student clubs or student medical and dental plan, they can contact the KSA. There are also KSA member discounts and the chance to be involved in student government. The KSA also offers assistance around financial troubles and with obtaining healthy food. The KSA have offices and representatives on all campuses and can be contacted through: http://kusa.ca/services

The Gathering Place

Located at the east end Surrey Main, the Gathering Place has a private entrance now opens onto a forest, the central courtyard and pond. The goal of the facility is to create an inviting gathering place for all students: a space that supports the social and educational activities associated with attending KPU in an environment that recognizes the important contribution of the Kwantlen, Semiahmoo, Tsawwassen, Qay’Qayt, Katzie, and all other Indigenous Nations. There are specific supports here as well for Indigenous students.  http://www.kpu.ca/indigenous/gathering-place


Some learners may be dealing with problems that are non-academic. Usually it’s fine to take a few minutes at the beginning or end of a session and discuss these things – everyone needs someone to talk to. However, if it seems like the learner is overwhelmed by a problem and needs further assistance, it’s best to refer him to the Counselling Department, which is available to all students. Professional counsellors can help learners with career, personal, educational or financial issues. There is an online app at:
Keep Me Safe (https://www.kpu.ca/keepmesafe) that provides KPU students with unlimited, free, 24-hour access to trained counsellors available in several different languages in addition to other wellness resources and information.
Let learners know that these services exist and if necessary, accompany them to make an appointment. They can be accessed online at:
http://www.kpu.ca/counselling to book an appointment or for more information; emailed at:
counsellor@kpu.ca for general questions about their services. You can also book an appointment with a counsellor by calling:

Surrey 604 599 2044 Richmond 604 599 2600
Langley 604 599 3213 Cloverdale / KPU Tech 604 598 6044

Basic Student Supports

University is challenging. Fortunately, at KPU, there are resources that can help students be successful. KPU has a full range of services and departments that students can access when they need support or assistance. This page includes links to resources for: Health and Wellness, Accessibility, Financial Hardship,  Food Insecurity, Counselling Services, and Housing Resources.

Many Other Services for Student Support

KPU offers even more services to promote student success, including:

Assessment & Testing Career Services
Co-operative Education Orientation & Transitions
Policies Accessibility Services
Sport & Recreation Student Awards and Financial Assistance
Student Email Student Rights and Responsibilities
Volunteer Services Learning Centres & Tutoring

For more information please visit: http://www.kpu.ca/current-students/support

Referral Activity:

  • In what situations should you refer the learner to:
    1. The course Instructor
    2. Learning Centre faculty
    3. A Librarian
    4. A Counsellor
    5. An Academic Advisor
    6. The Kwantlen Student Association
    7. The Gathering Place
    8. Student Enrolment Services
  • If a learner is drastically failing a course and we’re getting near the last day to withdraw from a course, what should you do?


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Level One Peer Tutoring Fundamentals and Integration Workbook Copyright © 2020 by Kwantlen Polytechnic University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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