This research focused on the benefits and challenges for second year Education Studies undergraduate students acting as near-peer mentors for year 12 students (aged 16-17). Near-peer mentoring often involves postgraduate students working with new undergraduates and is more common during Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) programmes. There is little research available, outside of STEM, about how near-peer mentors might influence the aspirations of students to access HE, or of the impact on undergraduate mentors themselves.
The student near-peer mentors were part of the Research Higher project in an area of England with unexplained low participation rates in HE. The project involved circa 200 students from local schools in a programme of weekly events where they designed and conducted their own research. Second year Education Studies undergraduate students supported two cohorts of year 12 students during their on-campus seminar activities. The findings draw on thematic analysis of undergraduate student interviews at the end of the project. They indicate that near-peer mentoring has unexpected benefits for undergraduate Education Studies students including meta-cognition about their own learning and confidence in working with older students. Recommendations for future near-peer mentoring programmes are proposed based on student feedback.