Support provided by another student which is designed to assist mentees to make a successful transition to higher education, integrate into the student population and help enrich their higher education experience. This is done by addressing mentees’ questions and concerns about different aspects of student life from a student’s perspective and signposting to student support services
Mentors typically provide support on a one-to-one basis but sometimes work with small groups of mentees.
Mentors are sometimes ‘matched’ to mentees based on a range of shared characteristics which can include:
- Degree subject
- Background (e.g. socio-economic, ethnicity, gender, family experience of HE)
- Previous school
University of St Andrew’s: Admissions widening access mentoring scheme
The University of St Andrew offers a range of peer support to current undergraduates and postgraduates, including departmental buddy and mentoring schemes. The largest of the institutional programmes is targeted at students from widening participation backgrounds, including those who are socio-economically disadvantaged, carers, care-experienced students, mature students and those living in rural areas, which is designed to aid WP students to make the transition to University, integrate into the wider student population and successfully complete their studies.
During St Andrew’s contextual admissions process, applicants who have participated in widening access activities across Scotland, including all Scottish Funding Council (SFC)-funded programmes, First Chances and The Sutton Trust, are flagged and subsequently invited to take part in the admissions widening access mentoring scheme. Those that wish to take part are matched with a student mentor who shares one or more characteristics with the applicant, such as subject of study, previous school, or previous involvement in a project or activity. Those who take part in the programme attend a welcome event where they meet their mentor face-to-face. Mentors then support their mentees throughout their transition to the University, providing a friendly point of contact and answering basic questions about all aspects of student life, including accommodation, module choices and clubs and societies. Support from the mentor continues for as long as the mentees need it, which typically ranges from one or two weeks to one semester, although some remain in contact for the entire first year. Mentees keep in contact with their mentor via email and social media platforms such as Facebook.
Approximately 55 students are supported each year at a total cost of £400 for associated direct costs plus approximately three days of staff time to support delivery. Many mentees report feeling more positive about coming to St Andrews after participating in the mentoring scheme and most agree that mentors provide useful and valuable guidance.
Find out more about peer support at St Andrews here:
For further information on contextual admissions at St Andrews see: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/assets/university/study-at-st-andrews/documents/access-and-outreach/access-annual-report-2017.pdf
For information about First Chances see: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/study/access/projects/first-chances-project/
For more information about The Sutton Trust see: https://summerschools.suttontrust.com/
Evaluation evidence has tested the effectiveness of the intervention on the following target audiences:
- First year undergraduates
- Students identified as underperforming
- Students with little or no experience of higher education (e.g. first in family to attend)
- Students at risk of dropping out of higher education
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