The benefits of peer mentoring programs are well-established which is why they are one of the most popular transition and retention strategies used by universities. The evidence indicates that a peer mentor can help address the social isolation that many new students feel and even increase their sense of belonging and engagement with an institution.
Unlike other universities, peer mentoring at Flinders is a relatively new initiative. Before the restructure, most schools used an opt-out system and allocated students to mentors via enrolment in a common introductory topic in a degree. Students who fell through the gaps were picked up by the central opt-in mentoring program run by the Transition Office. This situation has now changed as the result of the restructure. Some school-based mentoring programs have ceased to exist, with the exception of a handful of professional degree-based mentoring programs. Now that the new structure in place, we feel it is time to revisit the mentoring initiative. If Flinders, as an institution, wants all its students to access a peer mentor, then there needs to be a consistent approach to establishing peer mentoring programs across the colleges to fill the gaps. Therefore, it would be useful to know what other academics or professional staff are doing in this space or planning to do in this space in each college. That way we can develop a holistic approach that will benefit all students.
Contributed by Salah Kutieleh
Director – Transition