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UHI Student Mentor Network. Student Mentor Training Kevin Sinclair, Student Progression Lead Practitioner Email: kevin.sinclair@uhi.ac.uk Web: www.uhi.ac.uk /student-mentor-network. UHI Student Mentor Network. Schedule 09.30 Welcome 09.35 Getting to know each other

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uhi student mentor network

UHI Student Mentor Network

Student Mentor Training

Kevin Sinclair, Student Progression Lead Practitioner

Email: kevin.sinclair@uhi.ac.uk

Web: www.uhi.ac.uk/student-mentor-network

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UHI Student Mentor Network


09.30 Welcome

09.35 Getting to know each other

09.50 First session – an introduction to mentoring and the role of UHI student mentors

10.50 Second session – how to structure and run mentoring sessions

11.50 Third session, international students, counselling awareness, becoming an effective mentor and careers.

12.30 Close

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UHI Student Mentor Network

New to University? Life and study at university requires adjustment. It is not the same as school, college or work.

What challenges do new students face?

Are these challenges the same for everyone? What about mature students, those from overseas or those coming from a further education (college) background?

What are the main social, personal and academic issues a new student will encounter?

Discuss these topics.

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UHI Student Mentor Network
  • UHI student mentors
  • Support new students by providing peer encouragement and being a positive role model.
  • Mentors can begin by arranging meetings (in person or virtually) with groups of around ten first year students.
  • Provide more intense mentoring to a maximum of two students throughout the year.
  • Refer students who require help to specialist services – student advisers, careers coaches, student support etc.
  • Have the support of the mentor co-ordinator at all times.
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UHI Student Mentor Network

Benefits of mentoring

  • To the mentee:
  • Contact with someone who has recent experience of first year
  • Realise that they are not alone
  • Meet other students
  • A peer they may be more comfortable discussing issues with (than staff)
  • Can feel a sense of belonging
  • Get a personal face in a large institution
  • Can receive lots of information and advice
  • Develop faster as a student
  • To the mentor:
  • Mentoring is a rewarding and worthwhile experience
  • Develop skills that are useful for study and future employment (mentoring highly valued by employers)
  • Increased leadership and communication skills
  • Better contact with your department
  • Employers look favourably upon students that take on responsibility such at this whilst at university
  • You will probably find your own progress as a student to be faster
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UHI Student Mentor Network
  • What is mentoring?
  • A mentor is a mix of four skills:
  • Coach – helping the mentee achieve specific targets. May challenge assumptions and stretch the mentee. The coach is leading the process.
  • Counsellor – the most important skill here is listening. A supportive person for the mentee to talk to in confidence.
  • Networking – everyone needs to be part of networks to function well. The mentor introduces the mentee to university networks – formal and informal.
  • Guide – sometimes the mentor ‘gives the answer’ from their own experience. However always giving the answer does not allow the mentee to grow in themselves.
  • What is the best mix of these attributes?
  • Are there others we should include?

The mentoring mix:





Friend, adviser, supporter, encourager

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UHI Student Mentor Network

What is the mentor ‘job description’?

Each mentor will work in a slightly different way, taking account of your own experience and areas of confidence, but working within these boundaries:

  • Answer general questions about studying at UHI
  • Be a friendly face and a known person to those who may not know anyone else
  • Give insight in what to expect from study at higher education level
  • Offer general guidance and support throughout the students first year
  • Offer information and informal support, making use of resources provided
  • Provide a link between new and existing students
  • Offer an ongoing mentor service to students via email or perhaps at regular hours in an appointed place on campus
  • Each Mentor will have their own background which will give them a specific area of expertise, for example disabilities, mature students, international issues etc.
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UHI Student Mentor Network

The mentor ‘job description’ - continued

There are some areas of work that mentors should beware of and try to avoid!

  • Are there any other areas you think mentors should avoid?
  • What potential problems could you see in the work of a mentor?
  • Could overlap with other college services or lack of specialist knowledge be issues to address?
  • By good referral to specialists, mentors can avoid potential areas of conflict with mentees or staff.
  • Being an advisor or counsellor to the mentee
  • Becoming a new best friend or confidante
  • Avoiding specialist areas such as finance, student support, careers advice etc.
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UHI Student Mentor Network
  • Setting the boundaries
  • Set boundaries for what you can and cannot do early on (socially and academically) – you could use this discussion to find out what your mentees want to get from their sessions and what you are able to provide
  • Define the frequency of contact and when you might refer them to someone else for support
  • Be sensible about the situations you put yourself in
  • It is good to be friendly but you are in a position of responsibility – you must take this into account

Discuss how you will set the boundaries of your mentoring in advance today, and how you will set out and explain those to new mentors.

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UHI Student Mentor Network
  • How do mentors work?
  • Mentors could do one or more of the following:
  • Meeting individually with students who are known to need the support
  • Weekly consultation sessions for students to drop in and meet with the Mentor during set consultation hours at an advertised location which will always be on campus.
  • Email support
  • Regular meetings for coffee with all mentored students (this can work particularly well as the students gain support from each other also in addition to the mentor)
  • Working with a local student association or UHISA to organise social events – parties, day trips, visits to local places. This is particularly for international students.
  • Online support via the website for any student with a question
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UHI Student Mentor Network
  • Working with your mentees
  • You are there to be contacted if your mentees need you - with confidentiality
  • They may contact you by phone, email, or in person
  • You should have specific ideas of the content of your meetings - social and academic
  • A regular meeting time and place is preferable
  • UHI mentors will most commonly either:
  • Invite their small group of mentees to regularly meet for coffee to discuss issues, or
  • Work one to one with a few students – the preferred method.
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UHI Student Mentor Network

In summary the role of mentors is to:

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UHI Student Mentor Network
  • Getting started – matching with mentees
  • It is important to get in touch with the students you will be mentoring early on. At UHI the mentor network is voluntary offered to students. It is not compulsory, as with all the best mentor services!
  • You can let your fellow students know that you are their mentor by:
  • Putting up a poster inviting the new students to take part.
  • Contacting the new students by email and let them know about the mentor network. You could use blackboard or another instant message service.
  • Put your ‘profile’ on the mentor website
  • Students may contact the mentor co-ordinator to be matched to a mentor. Or they may contact you directly, if that is the case, and you feel you would like to mentor them, always let the mentor co-ordinator know who you are mentoring. If you feel that they would be better mentored by someone else, direct them to the co-ordinator to be matched.
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UHI Student Mentor Network
  • Dealing with group dynamics
  • Think about where socially everyone will feel comfortable
  • Listen to each group member
  • Ask for explanations and ask questions to engage discussion
  • Open the conversation to the whole group
  • Look for blank stares and those that avoid eye contact
  • Try to keep to a structured session plan to avoid conversations straying onto inappropriate subjects – use activities
  • Have some activities of topics for discussion in reserve in case you need to steer the conversation in a different direction

This assumes that you will be working in a group. Most mentors prefer only mentoring one to one. That is fine, in fact that is really what mentoring is. The purpose of group work is not so much actual mentoring, but to find out who could benefit from mentoring.

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UHI Student Mentor Network

Structuring the first one to one meeting – a checklist

  • Where shall we meet, and for how long? – PROP – professional, relaxed, open, purposeful for both parties.
  • What do we want/need to know about each other?
  • Social: career history, domestic circumstances, interests outside college.
  • Career/study ambition: what do you like/dislike about UHI, your achievements or failures, your fears or confidence, what is your picture of success, how clear are the mentee’s goals?
  • Development goals: what does the mentee want to improve, what are their career aims (see UHI Careers Service slide), where would the mentee most value guidance.
  • What will make the relationship satisfying and useful for both of us?
  • What expectations do we have of each other and what are the ground rules?
  • What are our priorities?
  • Do we want to set an agenda for the next meeting or keep it informal?
  • Are there any issues we should get to work on now?
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UHI Student Mentor Network

What should the next meetings consist of?

Campus based mentors and mentees could meet informally once a month or so to go over how students are getting on. Find out from the students what their issues are. Have one item ready that you would like to talk about – for example: exams, time management, preparing for assignments etc.

Look out for students who would like extra support and offer one to one sessions.

Online students can be emailed to see how they are getting on. Try to do something other than just ask how they are. Perhaps send an email talking about your own experiences at that stage of the year to get conversation started.

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UHI Student Mentor Network

The final meeting

Towards the end of Semester 1, or early in the second, you would stop arranging group meetings (if you have used these), but continue with individual meetings for those who would need them.

The final meeting could take place after the first exam results. It is always a time when people like to reflect on what has happened until that point. That is also a time to encourage students who might be feeling it is too much and considering ending their studies.

The final meeting with your individual mentees would usually take place in the second semester. Have a general discussion about the student’s experiences. Tell them about the online evaluation form.

It is up to you whether you keep in touch – we encourage this as it is good for you and your mentees. And encourage anyone who might be showing potential to sign up as a mentor!

Tip: it is easy for mentoring to feed our own ego. Remember that success is the student not needing us any more.

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UHI Student Mentor Network

Is mentoring group work?

We don’t assume that you will be working in a group. You may prefer only mentoring one to one. That is fine, in fact that is really what mentoring is. The purpose of group work is not so much actual mentoring, but to find out who could benefit from mentoring.

The best work of mentoring is always a one to one. A group setting is actually unsuitable for good quality mentoring as people will not open up in a group.

Mentors who work remotely with students, by email, Blackboard or phone will always mentor in a one to one setting.

When working one to one, always have an idea what you would like to achieve from the session, but let the mentee be the main guide as to what they would like to achieve. Your role is to facilitate them to excel. Let them set the targets, but you challenge them to go further!

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UHI Student Mentor Network
  • International students
  • International students will face extra issues:
  • Culture shock
  • Home sickness
  • Practical issues – health services, banks, etiquette
  • Fitting in and feeling a sense of belonging
  • English language is often an issue
  • We do not want to segregate but integrate
  • Useful for our international mentors to share their experiences
  • How can we help students to overcome these issues?
  • What other special groups might particularly benefit from a mentor?
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UHI Student Mentor Network
  • Counselling skills
  • You are NOT a counsellor, nor are you expected to take on this responsibility
  • But, you can develop skills to encourage others to respond to you, and you can recognise when someone might need help
  • You should be aware of the issues that many student face whilst beginning university
  • Know when to refer a student for further support and ask for help yourself
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UHI Student Mentor Network

Basic counselling awareness

Counsellors work with a variety of difficulties and issues. In universities problems include: studies and exams, personal relationships, identity, loneliness, anxiety, depression, suicidal feelings, homesickness, family problems, cultural issues, trauma, life changes, bereavement and loss, eating difficulties, drug or alcohol problems, life crises, mental health issues, experiences of abuse or discrimination.

The most common issues are usually home sickness, challenges of independent learning, making friends and relationship problems.

UHI academic partner counsellors can help with all of these issues. They provide time and space to examine, clarify and understand concerns, and explore and develop more effective ways of coping.

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UHI Student Mentor Network
  • Some basic advise:
  • Home sickness – do not go home, do not ring home too much, as mentors do not highlight the differences in backgrounds. Home sickness is often linked to depression – natural to feel homesick but if still after 4-5 weeks should seek further help.
  • Relationship problems - parents can see child leaving home as a chance to split up, no feeling of belonging.
  • Anxiety – social and academic performance, use your own experiences to help mentees
  • Depression – look out for: sleep problems (getting to sleep, staying asleep and waking up), eating habits (over or under eating), needing alcohol or drugs to function, isolating oneself
  • Don’t look for problems – mostly students will settle in after a week or two.
  • If you see signs of depression, ask for help and advice.
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UHI Student Mentor Network


Mentor relationships are actually rarely completely confidential. However privacy is very important. It is better for a mentor not to be a member of staff, as students feel much more comfortable talking to a peer and someone who will not be marking their work!

As a general rule, everything discussed in the mentor relationship is confidential. There are exceptions, however. If you have reason to believe that your mentee could be of harm to themselves, or others, that should be reported. However, in general, what is discussed between the mentor and the mentee is private. It should not be discussed with staff or other students. The ground rules should be explained at the start.

Also if you feel something should be reported to staff, such as several students struggling with the same piece of work, then simply ask for permission to mention it from the student. You can feedback class issues without mentioning student names.

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UHI Student Mentor Network

E – Mentoring

Some students are not often on campus. How can we keep in touch with them?

Tip: It is really important that the mentee knows they have our full attention. Make sure there are no interruptions or background noise while on the phone. Give them our full attention. It may help to mentally picture them in our minds, this helps us concentrate on them. People on the other end of the phone know when we are not paying full attention to them!

  • Email
  • Phone
  • Blackboard
  • Facebook
  • Questions
  • How can we make best use of technology to keep in touch?
  • Are there advantages to mentoring at a distance?
  • What could you do to build a distance relationship with another student?
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UHI Student Mentor Network

What makes an effective mentor?

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UHI Student Mentor Network

What does an effective mentor do?

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UHI Student Mentor Network

Diversity mentoring

How do we best respond to diverse groups?

Mature students, young people, different ethnic groups, disabled students, international students…

It is actually best to include everyone in the same mentoring programme.

Diverse groups tend not to value a mentor system for their benefit as it is seen as making them different.

Mentees vary in terms of their wants. Some value someone of them same group as they are. Others specifically want someone from a separate group, perhaps the group they feel is not disadvantaged. So we respond by being flexible and try to supply the mentor that the mentee wants!

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UHI Student Mentor Network
  • Discussion:
  • Discuss scenarios where you have faced, or know someone who has, a problem/issue to resolve at UHI
  • What would you do as a mentor?
  • Give advice as you now would as a mentor
  • Feedback to the whole group
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UHI Student Mentor Network
  • Mentoring as a life skill
  • Mentors are increasingly used in business. You could take your skills with you.
  • Or, you could set up a mentor programme.
  • How do you mentor where there is no formal mentor programme?
  • How do we find ourselves good mentors throughout life?
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UHI Student Mentor Network

The UHI Careers Centre

Careers planning is a subject of interest for many students as the purpose of being at university if often career related. Mentors have a valuable role in encouraging students in relation to their career planning. There are two common misconceptions related to career planning. Either people think careers planning is for those who don’t know what they want to do, or that it is for those who do and need help getting there. In truth everyone can benefit from taking some time out to reflect on their life goals and how they can achieve what they want.

The UHI Careers Service offers:

• Self help materials provided on the website

• Free, confidential e-guidance and telephone guidance services

• Free, confidential career coaching service.

Mentors are encouraged to direct students to the careers website and to careers coaches who have been trained to help students develop and work towards their career goals.

Find out more at: www.ccwa.uhi.ac.uk

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UHI Student Mentor Network

Student Charter and Red Button

The UHI Student Charter sets out what students can expect from UHI, and what UHI can expect from students, to enable success on their journey as a student. The UHI Student Charter (PDF, new window) is available to download online.

Student Advisers are the best first point of contact for a student who feels their expectations have not been met, and can provide them with advice and support. If a student does not know who to contact, or would like to tell someone about their experience as a UHI student, then they can use the online form at the Red Button section of the website.

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UHI Student Mentor Network


Feedback on how the student mentor network is working is very important. It will allow us to make changes to better suit student needs and gives you a formal channel to report issues you may have.

We keep the paperwork to a minimum! So we just supply a simple form for you to complete each month letting us know how you have got on. We don’t want to know about the details of your mentoring relationships – remember those are private. However, do let us know how you are getting on as mentors and if there is anything we can do to help.

Thank you!


Making mentoring work:

Take time to practice your mentoring skills

Feedback monthly to the mentor co-ordinator

Refer students to appropriate staff as required

The mentor co-ordinator is here to help you! Feel free to get in touch at any time for help or advice:

Kevin Sinclair, kevin.sinclair@uhi.ac.uk