Academic Mentoring Schemes
The purpose of the University’s Academic Mentoring Schemes is to provide a process whereby a member of staff can gain advice, guidance and encouragement regarding their work and career development. Mentoring is a very useful intervention to support professional and career development by helping staff to reflect on their work and progress and plan professional and career development in a way that is timely and specific to their needs.
Many Schools in the University have formal and informal mentoring processes but the University-wide schemes aim to provide broader options for mentoring within the Colleges and the University.
The objectives of the Schemes are to:
- Enable staff to share knowledge and expertise.
- Develop mentoring relationships and networking across the University.
- Support mentees with their work and career development.
1. For the purpose of this mentoring scheme we define ‘early career academic’ as research / academic staff who are within the first three years of their academic careers, whether as e.g. a post-doctoral researcher or new lecturer. The scheme is relevant to staff on fixed term contracts and permanent staff.
2. The objective of early career mentoring is to provide an opportunity for staff to start considering longer-term objectives of developing research and teaching profiles and to provide an additional source of support and feedback within the school (but outside the line-manage/PI relationship).
3. Some Schools in the University already have mentoring schemes to support staff within their probationary period. However, the Early Career Mentoring Scheme has been included here to ensure that all Schools provide this level of support for their staff, particularly those at the early stages of their career and that this includes staff on fixed-term contracts such contract research staff.
4. Normally, staff within the first three years of their academic careers will not apply to the University scheme as their mentoring needs should be addressed at School-level. However, if staff feel that their mentoring requirements are not being met at School level, we encourage staff to contact us to discuss participating in the broader University Scheme.
What are the key principles of the Scheme?
- Participation in the Academic Mentoring Scheme and the Senior Academic Mentoring scheme is voluntary.
- Participation in the Early Career Mentoring Scheme is strongly recommended for staff within their first three years of their academic career.
- Mentoring is about sharing knowledge and learning and therefore mentoring partnerships may not necessarily be from someone on a higher grade but from a member of staff who has more expertise in a certain area. However, for the Senior Academic Mentoring Scheme, support will be provided from a more senior academic.
- Mentoring is about career development and therefore should be available to all staff, not just permanent members of academic staff.
- Mentoring is not the same as, or a substitute for, Performance Development Review.
- Adequate time should be made available for the mentoring sessions during the working day.
- Trust is a key element of the mentoring process and should be a safe, non-judgmental relationship. Therefore, discussions during the mentoring will be confidential. However, the mentor can share a general outline of the mentoring discussions (following a request from the mentee) in the mentees Performance Development Review.
- A degree of formality is essential; i.e. a minimum number of meetings recorded in a year, but formal written records are not a requirement.
Who takes responsibility for various aspects of the Scheme?
The mentor’s main focus is the professional and career development of their mentee and the mentor should:
- Act as a sounding board and provide alternative perspectives.
- Share expertise and individual learning.
- Interpret and discuss any feedback given to the mentee.
- Critique and comment on grant proposals.
- Supporting and providing advice regarding teaching and assessment, pedagogical research and student engagement.
- Support progress towards promotion and career development.
Mentors can help inform the developmental aspects, however they should not normally be involved in contributing feedback on performance or formally addressing performance issues.
The mentee must be committed to the process and be clear about the purpose and aims of the relationship. The role of the mentee can vary depending on the context and purpose of the mentoring but will, in principle, include:
- Taking responsibility for identifying and achieving their own goals.
- Managing meetings and discussing the objectives for discussions within the relationship.
- Share feedback with the mentor about how the relationship is progressing in order to improve the outcomes they are achieving from mentoring meetings.
The mentor/mentee discussions take place outside the line management relationship and they should be confidential to ensure the appropriate level of trust and support.
The line manager is responsible for managing the mentee on a daily basis and is responsible for setting objectives, monitoring performance and providing feedback. The line manager is also responsible for reviewing progress to achieve any agreed objectives and their professional development plan.
The line manager should remain open to any ideas from the mentor that will assist in the continued development of the mentee.
The Academic Mentoring Scheme and the Senior Academic Mentoring Scheme is managed by the Scheme Co-ordinator in Staff Development. The Scheme Co-ordinator is responsible for the day to day management of the Scheme and is specifically:
- Responsible for managing the matching process.
- Providing support to participants.
- In circumstances in which the partnership is not working, work with staff to reach the best outcome which may be arranging a new mentor / mentee for the relevant individual.
- Maintaining the database of staff involved with the scheme.
- Organising training and on-going development for Scheme participants.
What can you expect from the Scheme?
It is expected that mentors will meet their mentees between four to six times within a twelve month period. It is essential that at the beginning of the mentoring relationship both partners are clear about what they expect from the mentoring and each other in terms of guidance and frequency of meetings.
It is strongly advised that mentors and mentees attend a briefing session or a short workshop to ensure that both mentees and mentors are clear about how best to contribute to the process.
How can I apply to the Scheme?
The Academic Mentoring Scheme and Senior Academic Mentoring Scheme will run annually during the academic year and there is an expectations that mentors and mentees will have between 4–6 meetings for an about an hour during a 12 month period. The mentoring process will involve:
- The relevant application form must be completed by mentors and mentees applying to participate in the Scheme.
- The matching process will be undertaken during July
- Mentors and mentees will be informed of their matches in early September.
- Mentor and Mentee briefing sessions will also be held in early September.
- It is expected that a mentor will usually only have one mentee if they are participating in the Scheme.
To apply please complete the relevant form by the last day of June:
- Academic Mentoring Scheme Application
- Senior Academic Mentoring Scheme Application