Introduction to Mentoring in Higher Education Institutions for Policymakers in Spain

On the 5th of March, the Spanish partner Coordinadora de Mentoria Social organized a session on mentoring in universities and the European project Mentor Your Future. The session was meant for Policy Makers. The objective of the meeting was to present mentoring within the framework of higher education institutions. To do so, we made a presentation about the European project, we presented the results of the research Applying Mentoring and we had two testimonies who helped complete the session through their own first-hand experiences. 56 people attended the session coming from 15 different Spanish regions, including university decision-makers and policymakers from regional governments, amongst other profiles.

During the session, the director of the Coordinadora de Mentoria Social, Marta López, explained the key concepts of mentoring and the main objectives of the Mentor Your Future project. Next was Eila Prats, a PhD candidate at the University of Girona (UdG) and ex-mentor of the Nightingale project at the same university. Eila explained her experience as a mentor during the first year of her university degree while highlighting the importance of empathy and the creation of a bond of trust to be able to accompany her mentee at the time. After her speech, the researcher Òscar Prieto-Flores offered a presentation with scientific data on the benefits of mentoring for the people who act as mentors. The data came from the Applying Mentoring study, which for three years has analyzed the impact of mentoring programmes on migrant mentees in Spain. Finally, Dr Sílvia Llach, Vice-Rector for Territory and Social Commitment at the UdG, spoke about her institution’s experience with the Nightingale project and how it has allowed the University to advance in their community commitment –with the territory, beyond the University– and social commitment–for the promotion of equal opportunities.

After the presentations, the attendees were able to reflect in small groups on the challenges of the university in relation to its social function and on how mentoring can help face such challenges. From the different institutions and autonomous communities, experiences and opinions were shared that, without a doubt, will allow us to begin to analyze some of the existing needs in the different territories. Most groups agreed on the usefulness of mentoring in addressing social challenges. Many also stressed the need to obtain data on the impact of mentoring, as well as to carry out an exhaustive follow-up of the projects.

A European project for the promotion of university mentoring

Mentor Your Future is a European project funded by Erasmus+ and that connects entities and universities from 6 different countries: ACEEU in Germany, AFEV France, BBBS Bulgaria, UNIC in Cyprus, NHL Stenden in the Netherlands and the Social Mentoring Coordinator in Spain. The project seeks to create a methodology for the application of mentoring in the field of higher education and in order to promote cohesion and social commitment. Through this project, we want to empower students from universities and higher education degrees to act as mentors of secondary school students, especially those belonging to groups that are statistically less likely to access higher education. The focus of the project is on educational centers and the benefits that the mentors obtain, especially with the acquisition of transversal skills.

Within the framework of the Mentor Your Future project there are different activities aimed at a diversity of audiences in the university environment. These activities will take place during the three years that the European project will last. For the Coordinadora de Mentoria Social, in addition, contact with institutions and policymakers in the public administration is essential to continue advancing in the expansion of quality mentoring across Spain.

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Article originally published by Coordinadora de Mentoria Social in Spanish. Read the original here.