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The University of Southampton
Centre for Higher Education Practice

Mentoring FAQs

Below are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is mentoring?

A protected relationship which supports learning and experimentation and helps individuals develop their potential

What is a mentor?

A mentor is someone who has a genuine interest in overseeing and supporting the career and development of another person outside the normal supervision process

What is the role of a mentor?

A mentoring relationship is one where both mentor and mentee recognise the need for personal development. The role of a mentor includes that of guide, support, critical friend, sounding board, devil’s advocate, confidante, information giver, role model

Who are the mentors?

Mentors will be members of staff who have the experience and commitment to aid the personal development of their mentee(s)

Should I choose someone from within my academic unit or department?

We find that most people benefit from having a mentor from outside their academic unit or department. However, in certain circumstances it can be beneficial to seek advice from someone with more experience of a particular area and this may mean seeking a mentor from within your academic unit or department. Any discussions you have with your mentor should be confidential, whether or not they are within your department or academic unit

Is it confidential?

Yes. Nothing discussed in your meetings will be shared with anyone else unless you agree

Can I have more than one mentor?

Yes. You can have one or more long term mentors and/or opt for ‘one stop’ partnerships to address specific issues about which a specific mentor can help

How often should we meet?

That is up to you and your mentor and depends on the reasons for meeting. The nature, content and frequency of meetings will be determined by the needs of the mentee. You can arrange a ‘one stop’ session to address a specific issue. Alternatively, you can enter into a longer term relationship and meet regularly face to face or over the telephone or via Skype

Where should we meet?

Again, this is up to you and your mentor. We would suggest meeting somewhere neutral if at all possible. This may be a meeting room, tea room or coffee shop for example. The important thing is that you try to minimise potential interruptions and distractions

Do I have to tell anyone that I am being mentored/I am mentoring?

It depends, if you are participating in a formal mentoring relationship it is likely that PDU, your academic unit or department will keep a mentoring register. We use this information to help us bring together mentors and mentees and to report statistics to help secure funding for future mentoring. If you have had a good experience then we always like to hear about it (like the testimonials above). Equally if you have had a bad experience we would also like to be told so we can improve our mentoring service.


You may, in fact, find it useful to tell your line manager that you are being a mentored or being a mentor

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