The University of Wollongong has demonstrated this week that students and staff are paramount in assisting fellow students to succeed. Or are they?
Trent Thomas, Lucy Smith and Athena Bambaliaros jumped out in to the campus today to find out more about some of the programs the UOW has to offer, they discussed the importance of the groups, as well as some problems they have faced.
Trent Thomas discovered more about the Peer 2 Peer program in the Arts Faculty. It is a compulsory subject that students must enrol in as they start their first semester at UOW. However, there is a call to arms for the mentoring program, beaconing for more mentors to keep the program running, but also to make it larger and for more faculties.
The University of Wollongong’s student peer-2-peer mentoring program provides first year Arts students with mentorship from a fellow student to help make their transition to university life easier.
The program has about 800 students enrolled and 70 unpaid student mentors, but is struggling to find new mentors.
According to subject coordinator Dr. Stephen Brown, it’s hard to find new student mentors who can juggle the Peer-2-Peer program and their day to day life.
“We have had to find 70 mentors which has been a little difficult even though the students show an incredible generosity and spirit. There is so much willingness to help,” says Brown, “The problem with students is every three years they graduate and others have part-time work. So it has been a little difficult to find and train 70 mentors.”
According to current student and former member of the Peer-2-Peer program Jake Bull the program is helpful to new students who don’t fully understand the complexities of student life.
“I got a lot out of Peer-2-Peer but the main thing was organising and planning my degree. The first semester I picked random subjects because I was confused on what I had to do but the program helped me plan the rest of my degree.
I think it is very useful for first year students, especially ones like me who had no family go to university before me and who didn’t know how university worked.”
The program equips students with knowledge about how to access the library, possible career paths and subject advice.
Despite difficulty in finding mentors, Dr. Brown believes it is a concept that provides valuable information and should be expanded on.
“I think if you have a big faculty with a lot of students then yes, it is something that should be looked at (University wide Peer-2-Peer Program).” Says Brown “There is a lot of lost students. Not that they don’t know where they are going but they’re not really sure if they made the right degree choice or they are in the right subject and don’t know how to find advice.”
Jake Bull believes its something that should be expanded to all students.
“I do think more students should take it as those first few weeks can be daunting and meeting people who are in the same situation as you is really helpful.
I believe it should be compulsory for all new students so that there is no confusion and allows a seamless transition for new students into university life.”
If you wish to be a mentor or inquire about the program you can contact the peer-2 -peer program at this email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lucy Smith immersed herself in the figures of Aboriginal students who are currently studying at the UOW and found out some interesting facts.
The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students completing doctoral degrees in Australia has quadrupled in the past two decades, with 324 indigenous students enrolled in PhD’s in 2012.
Indigenous students make up 1% of the University of Wollongong population – and only eleven are currently completing PhDs. Evan Poata-Smith, the Professor of Indigenous Studies, and Bronwyn Carlson, the Convenor of the Forum for Indigenous Research, are working with various methods to encourage Undergraduates to pursue Post-Graduate Research, and mentor current researchers.
Athena Bambaliaros followed up on the construction and development of the Early Learning Centre being built on campus just across from building 25. She found out all about the Alumni scholarship that is being presented this week to a few lucky students.