Written by: Jenny Smith
Going to University can feel like a big jump to lots of young people; new life skills are needed for independent living such as budgeting and keeping on top of bill paying. The change is also reflected in the academic expectations in that university students are expected to take much more responsibility for getting their work in on time, thorough research of topics and clear referencing of materials used.
Despite this jump in responsibility, there is still support available for students who come across difficulties or who face ongoing challenges. Study mentoring is one area that has been set up for students who have difficulty in self-managing their course work, understanding study instruction or simply keeping motivated to stay on top of it all.
Mentoring is aimed at students who have extra challenges such as mental health difficulties like anxiety or depression, learning difficulties such as autism or chronic physical health problems such as ME and students who’s ability to study is affected by any of these condition can be eligible for support. Whilst mentoring is different to counselling, most mentors have very good communication skills and empathy so that they are able to build up supportive and trusting relationships with the students that they work alongside.
Applying for a study mentor
Study mentors in universities are funded under the Equality Act 2010 and each student who would like to apply to have a mentor goes through an assessment that can be arranged by student welfare or the disability advisory service. The assessment measures whether the students has a level of impairment that a substantial effect on a persons ability to carry out normal day to day activities. If mentoring is awarded through the assessment, it is usually paid for by the non-medical helper section of the disabled students allowance (DSA) which is non-means tested and non repayable for UK based students. If students are not from the UK, most universities have separate funding provision to cover the cost of providing mentors for them.
How study mentoring helps
The main aims of mentoring are to deliver study interventions that support a wide ranging group of students who are experiencing psychological or significant health problems. Issues of confidence, self-belief, motivation and overwhelm are all common and mentors are skilled at helping students to break down tasks into manageable and less overwhelming chunks of work.
The one to one sessions will be confidential between the student and the mentor unless there are significant concerns about risk of harm to the student. Meetings normally take place each week, most students are allocated mentoring for an hour a week for each term and occasionally they are given more time. If there is a difficulty in the relationship between student and mentor it is possible for the student to ask for another mentor to be allocated.
To find out about mentoring at your son / daughters university contact the disability advisory service and ask to be sent a study support form. It is common for universities to ask for a doctor‚Äôs letter as evidence of the condition that support is being sought for. You then need to apply for Disabled Students Allowance through the university which will result in a study needs assessment for your child which will recommend funding and support. An example of further information about mentoring schemes can be found here http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/global/ but it will vary slightly from Uni to Uni.