In January 2023, sparqs launched the Buddy Scheme, aimed at pairing practitioners in student engagement across institutions and students’ associations, to give them the opportunity to discuss and have a sounding board external to their own institution. Luckily, we received an even number of applications to the scheme, so every applicant was paired off, with a total of six pairs. Participants worked in ten different institutions, namely eight universities and two colleges. sparqs’ involvement in the scheme was purposely limited - we set up the registration system and paired the participants, who received an email with the relevant buddy email address and suggestions from sparqs about the number of meetings and initial topics for discussion - the rest was up to the buddies.
By the end of May 2023, participants were asked to provide some feedback on the scheme. Were they able to meet their buddy? What did they talk about? And above all, was the scheme beneficial?
All the feedback indicates that, yes, the pilot buddy scheme was a success, and participants who provided their feedback found it extremely beneficial. Pairs managed to meet the suggested number of three to four times, and discussed topics which were relevant in their associations at the time of the meeting, such as elections and teaching awards.
Among the benefits of the scheme, participants who were less experienced and new in their role, commented that they felt their buddies, who were more experienced, provided great direction and advice. It was good for buddies to have someone to provide an external point of view to their institutional issues, and it helped making them feel less alone, as they recognised that they were facing similar challenges, even when working in different institutions.
Some suggested that it would be good to have more structure, such as a specific number of meetings and a set of themes to discuss.
All buddies are keen to continue with the scheme next academic year, so keep an eye on our website for news about the re-launch around September 2023!
Further information and queries
For further information on the buddy scheme and how it fits within sparqs’ resources for professional development for students’ associations academic co-ordinators, read our previous news article.
If you have any queries, please contact Gloria Laurini, Development Consultant – email@example.com.