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Showcase: Global Buddies - Friendship First Mentoring

Showcase posts will highlight an activity or programme we've found that we think is worth celebrating and sharing widely.

Today we're focussing on:

Global Buddies, University of Nottingham Students' Union International Student Mentoring at the University of Nottingham Students' Union

What is "Global Buddies"

Global Buddies is a fantastic example of a university-based mentoring scheme with a clear focus on engaging international student and establishing social connections at the very beginning of their university journey.

The scheme is managed by the University of Nottingham's Students' Union which has a dedicated International Students Engagement Coordinator.

It sits within their International Student Network structure. All international students, including non-UK EU students, are members of the International Student Network headed up by a part-time International Student Officer.

Mentoring Schemes in UK universities

Many universities in the UK offer some form of mentoring schemes for their students.

These mentoring schemes can take on a variety of different shapes, forms and structures.

Some schemes are designed to help students transition into university life where they are becoming more independent and developing new relationships.

Some focus on careers development and seek to support students into entering the job market and graduating from university.

Other mentoring schemes have explicit equality, diversity and inclusion aims. For example, reverse mentoring schemes where students from black, minority ethnicity backgrounds are partnered with university staff to learn and educate one another.

Many academic schools and units offer mentoring schemes within their disciplines and programmes while there are many schemes that operate across the University and Students' Union or even nationally or regionally.

Global Buddies in Focus

The Global Buddies scheme recruits enrolled students who've completed their first year to be mentors to incoming international and EU students. These recruits go through an application and interview process and if successful, undertake training with the SU on taking on the important mentoring role.

When international students first come to the UK they often find it difficult to make friends, particularly with UK/home students. The first couple of weeks at University can be incredibly challenging with students having to navigate a new culture and ways of doing things, and all the while feeling isolated from those 'in-the-know' who are forming increasing friendship groups.

Friendship is at the heart of the Global Buddies scheme. It gives these international students a means to ask those initial questions, seeks advice and importantly provides a point of contact from the very outset.

Questions like:

  • What should I wear when I arrive?

  • How do the buses work?

  • Where's the best food place?

  • Where do people hang out at the weekend?

The scheme also emphasises building a community. They hold regular meetups for both mentees and mentors, themed social events open to all students, with a variety of fun activities and free food.

Want to know more? Check out their website.

What about COVID-19?

In anticipation of social distancing and the huge challenges that the outbreak is bringing to all of us, there is a need to change how Universities approach their mentoring schemes.

The University of Nottingham Students' Union has been proactive and is using a virtual platform to ensure that mentors and mentees can work together in an effective, safe and social way! This will supplement a lot of the other online work established including the Facebook groups.

International Students - Stronger Together


Working in Partnership

The project is nation-wide and we're making a real effort to engage with everyone interested in international student mental health, including universities, mental health services, students unions, sector bodies, charities and organisations such a private student accommodation.

The project is led by the University of Nottingham, in partnership with the University of Nottingham Students' Union, University of Leeds, Leeds University Union, SOAS, SOAS Students' Union, Student Minds and Campuslife Ltd.

Project funded as part of the Office for Students Mental Health Challenge Competition.

Photo Credits

Header Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Friends Photo by Emmanuel on Unsplash

Handholding Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Global Buddies Logo and Banner by UoN SU

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