I'm an undergraduate student and recently I've been trying to find a private tutor to help me further expand my knowledge (outside of a scope of my courses). I've discovered one of the TAs advertises themselves as a private tutor. Would it be ethically wrong to hire them? Are there any potential issues/conflicts of interests?

As far as I know there is nothing strictly forbidding it in the university codes and I would love hiring them - I'm quite picky when it comes to the teaching style and in case of the TA in question I already know it'd be a great fit.


As a lecturer, I would feel that my TA possibly has a conflict of interests if they are also working as a tutor for one of my students. Among other things, TAs are often asked to solve through the final exam, to check correctness. So even if they are not involved with marking, they have access to confidential materials, and they can inadvertently leak some of this knowledge to the student they tutor.

  • This is the conflict of interest that can be such an issue... – Solar Mike Oct 26 '18 at 7:37
  • I haven't considered it from that point, thanks. Does the fact I'd like to get tutoring in the area that doesn't overlap with the course change anything? – MathsStudent Oct 26 '18 at 8:15
  • @MathsStudent no, as you will inevitably talk about the course you both share... – Solar Mike Oct 26 '18 at 8:58

as long as the TA is not involved in grading the course (or preparing exams / tests, etc.) it is ok (might still not be a good idea because they can influence other people), but at the moment the TA is involved in any grading / tests etc., it is a clear no-go!

There are many related questions like Is it ethical to give (paid) private tutorials for a student in a module I am TA'ing? (see the "related" column to the right).

  • That was my first thought as well, however as far as I can tell the situation might be considered to be a bit different than the one in the related questions as I'm looking for tutoring in the area not overlapping with the course they're TA'ing. – MathsStudent Oct 26 '18 at 8:18

Let your TA decide.

There is nothing wrong with asking, especially if the material to be tutored lies outside the scope of your course.

  • I'm a bit worried that may lead to some kind of awkwardness later on. Unless I'd do it anonymously but it doesn't really sound much better to be fair – MathsStudent Oct 26 '18 at 8:13

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