Monash University — Access Monash Mentoring
The Access Monash Mentoring program was introduced in 2012 to make university study a reality for more young people from low socioeconomic status (SES) communities. The program aims to provide intensive support to inform students’ decision-making and preparation for university and careers by matching them with highly engaged and successful Monash student mentors to work in a one-to-one mentoring relationship over the final two years of their schooling. The student-to-student connections help secondary students from low SES communities to bridge the gap from school to university and encourage them to view higher education as an obtainable goal.
Access Monash Mentoring partners with 46 secondary schools across the south-east of Melbourne and Gippsland regions. The program is targeted at underrepresented schools and schools with a high proportion of low SES students.
The program aims to work with students from low SES communities to build their personal and academic capacity, enthusiasm for higher education and understanding of what is needed to succeed. Mentors draw on their own experiences to support mentees in improving their understanding and awareness of higher education as a viable post-school option, and to link them with higher education providers. The two-way benefit ensures:
- mentees are supported in their preparation for university and careers
- mentors develop their leadership and employability skills and experience the value of giving back to the community.
Activities and Progress
Each mentee and mentor agree on a structured mentoring plan based on the mentee’s needs (identified through self-assessment tools). Mentoring sessions and activities are designed to help mentees explore and extend their interests
and career and study options, develop future plans based on those options, and build their study techniques, goal-setting, effective communication, motivation and resilience.
Mentoring and enrichment activities include:
- online and face-to-face weekly mentoring sessions during term time
- academic study assistance
- open days, campus visits and tours
- industry experiences — enrichment activities, shadowing experiences, workplace visits, industry forums, workshops and work experience.
Progress is monitored through mentoring session reports. Mentees complete a self-reflection tool at final sessions to evaluate how they have improved their skills and knowledge as a result of program. Outcomes for mentees include confidence and the capability to progress to higher education equipped with a well-prepared plan for course choice and career development.
An e-mentoring initiative was introduced in 2013 to extend access to students from regional areas. Mentor Leaders were introduced in 2014 to act as advisors to mentors, and take a key role in training, ongoing support, connecting mentors to others outside their field of expertise, collecting feedback and recommending developments to the program for improved outcomes.
Since 2012, Access Monash Mentoring has been successful in increasing the number of students from underrepresented communities continuing to higher education. The program has grown from 94 mentees to 640 in 2017, with the number of mentors increasing from 75 to 343. In that time, 589 mentees have graduated from the program and Monash has been able to track the outcomes of 431. Of those contacted, 93 per cent went on to university study, and four per cent have undertaken other forms of further study (TAFE, for example).
Monash University’s commitment to support the access and social mobility of students from low SES backgrounds is evidenced in its Widening Participation Strategy 2016–2020. The strategy prioritises mentoring of secondary students and access to high-impact engagement activities for Monash students.
Monash has ambitious plans to ensure disadvantaged students are not only supported in their transition to university, but throughout their degrees and into fulfilling careers. The strategy addresses the whole student life cycle, with plans to grow the program from ‘mentoring for university transition’ to ‘mentoring for lifetime success’.
Monash has begun to recruit business and community leaders, including Monash alumni, who will provide targeted and structured individual mentoring to Mentor Leaders with a focus on industry knowledge, career planning and personal development. Participating in a high-performing structured alumni mentoring program is a way for these students to be supported in navigating the challenging transition from university to work.
This case study was one of 35 featured in the NCSEHE’s 2017 publication Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program: Seven Years On.