Background to the Peer Guide Scheme
The Peer Guide Scheme is highly successful. It was initially developed under the GALA project (1994–96) and was adopted across the institution. There are now Peer Guides supporting new students in all Academic Schools.
Peer Guiding is primarily, but not exclusively, aimed at supporting fulltime first year undergraduates. It builds on and formalises the ad-hoc peer support that naturally develops within student communities. Peer Guides help new students in a friendly and informal way to ensure they find their way about and make new friends – that way they settle more easily into their life at Bangor.
It enhances the guidance offered to first year students by adding a student perspective; it is not intended to replace any of the personal tutor or academic functions within the departments, or of the professional advice and guidance provided centrally by the institution. The training Peer Guides receive makes sure they know what is beyond their remit and to whom they should refer those cases where a higher level of guidance is needed.
Benefits of the Scheme
The scheme is of benefit to all involved:
- New students have access to someone who can introduce them to fellow students, the university systems, the campus and the town. They can give friendly advice and help them find information and support. This all helps them settle in quickly.
- Peer Guides develop personal and professional skills
- Academic Schools gain extra help that supplements and supports the personal tutor system
- The institution has help in settling the new students quickly and effectively, alleviating pressure on the more formal support systems and aiding retention
Effectiveness of Peer Guides
Our most recent evaluations show that Peer Guides are very effective:
- 84% thought the help they received was useful
- 53% had been encouraged to speak to staff to solve their settling in problems
- 50% of open comments praised the Peer Guides for being friendly and helpful
Every year we give a special award to the Peer Guide of the Year. All new students are invited to nominate a Peer Guide they feel deserves the accolade. Here are a few of the many excellent comments that have accompanied the nominations in recent years
- Made me & others feel at home
- When I was finding it hard being away from home yook time to make sure I was OK
- Always available & put a lot of time into making sure freshers were OK.
- Made settling in less painful
- Supported me through a very difficult time
- Helped us settle in brilliantly
- Held our hands when we needed it
And the one that makes everything worthwhile
- Without my PG I would be sitting in my room feeling sorry for myself or would have left!
Structure of the Peer Guide Scheme
The scheme is university wide and has a central co-ordinator who is responsible for standardisation of the scheme across the institution such as the recruitment, training, and referencing of Peer Guides as well as organising the Peer Guide Ceremony and evaluating the scheme’s effectiveness.
In addition each Academic School has a co-ordinator who liaises with the Central Co-ordinator over the standard process but who operates the scheme on the ground to make sure it runs effectively within the academic school.. That person allocates the Peer Guides to the new students and organises which Peer Guides will do what.
Often the School Senior Peer Guides (those who Peer Guide for a second time) support and help with the organisation at school level.