Research and Collaboration in Higher Education

For the last three years we have worked across various London Universities with a variety of services and groups of students. It was part of a mentoring programme contracted as a form of  mediation between various departments such as Student Finances England, Department of Education and Randstad Education, all such services aiming to offer student support across various London Universities and Higher Education (HE) student populations in graduate and postgraduate programmes.

Such a learning experience had been fundamental for New Beginnings in  understanding challenges faced by HE students in the UK and how an integration of services of equality and inclusion across HE institutions can provide much needed support. Mentoring case-by-case individual students, through one-to-one interactions, and at organisational levels when mediating dynamics between students assessed by various Assessments Centres through Disable Students' Allowance (DSA), are rewarding experiences; it is conceived as being part of educating future and forward thinking generations and educational institutions alike, developing and engaging with change as it happens i.e. as a side by side journey in personal development and education, empowering students during transitional stages/life experiences. Majority of our encounters had acknowledged the existence of a well known psychosocial discourse felt by many, in that mental health is stigmatized in our society and such a stigma may and can become an obstacle in learning and reaching full potential. On that, it was also acknowledged that mentoring as a service can be seen as a viable solution, or a recognition of how it can exist as an integral part of inclusion and services currently provided. 

In many ways this specific part of New Beginnings was created by keeping in mind a purpose for such research and collaboration: for an entire year ideas of access and recognition were put forward with sole aims of aligning targeted areas for development and identifying best potential future collaborations. Service analysis and rapport are crucial elements in all professional relationships, particularly when opportunities are created for offering support and promoting equality, fairness and accessible to all Higher Education institutions.  We have been advised to offer our services across borders, to International Educational Institutions and progress from mentoring as a scheme within the UK, to a larger project with a broader perspective where inclusion is a key element of development, which is why past years of this specific specialism are so relevant to future development of New Beginnings. It is also recognised that the last few months have presented us with more opportunities in terms of extending face-to-face communication to virtual and online experience. It is acknowledged that in line and online audio communication are different from face-to-face mentoring sessions, and rapport with new students may be a different experience. At the same time, however, it enabled us, for the first time, to create a group challenge for all students and prompt a group communication of felt experiences by a group of London students on a topic of their completing studies and or preparing for summer term during a lockdown. Next week some of our students are completing their undergraduate degree; we worked with them for almost three years. There is no doubt about  the significance of such an event: not a contemplation, but a real experience of achievement and growth of a future generation.