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Peer Support celebrates its first 20 years

12 May 2015

On 30 April, the Peer Support Celebration Evening was held in the Grand Room of The Palace Hotel to recognise the contribution of the staff and students who support students through the University’s peer-led schemes

Peer Support Celebration Evening

The Celebration Evening is an annual event, but this year’s was extra special, marking 20 years of Peer Support at the University.

Peer Support is an umbrella term for two complementary schemes: Peer Mentoring and Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS). The first PASS scheme began in 1995 with 10 leaders. In 2015, 900 students provide support to lower year students through Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) and 850 oversee 35 Peer Mentoring schemes. Since 2004, 48 graduate interns have worked on Peer Support programmes with many going on to develop their career in higher education.

Regular attendance at PASS has been shown by some studies to improve average grades and reduce failure rates. Students benefit in their learning, wellbeing, and their future.

Peer mentors support first year students through their transitions through higher education. The outcomes are better retention, improvements in learning, and a sense of community and identity among students studying together across different year groups.

All of the University’s schemes are discipline owned, student led and centrally supported. At a local level, each PASS and Peer Mentoring scheme is managed by a partnership between staff and student co-ordinators.

Introducing the Outstanding Contribution Awards ceremony, Professor Clive Agnew said: “Distinctiveness is something that all universities strive to achieve and Peer Support is one of the main reasons why Manchester is distinctive. The transition from home and school to university can be difficult for many first years. Your work and efforts are warmly appreciated by the students whom you help - and by the University. Your participation in peer support also counts on your CV, showing potential employers that you have gone that bit further.”

Individual awards were presented to 19 mentors, leaders and staff and student co-ordinators. The award for Peer Mentoring Scheme of the Year went to BAEcon, while Speech and Language Therapy carried off the PASS Scheme of the Year Award.

Afterwards, Justin Kennedy, Teaching and Learning Support Adviser (Peer Support), said: ”You are students who put students first. You never know what impact you have: you may be the reason why one person graduates. And you are developing skills that will stand you in good stead in the future.”

In its twentieth year, Peer Support is recognised as invaluable to the University and is to be expanded across the institution: from September 2015, every first year student joining the University will have access to some form of peer support.