What is it? Mentoring, counselling, coaching and advising all involve a relationship between two individuals where a more experienced person provides support, advice and/or information to a less experienced individual. This normally includes some combination of psychological/emotional support, course/career support, academic skills support, and acting as a role model.

Evidence? There is evidence from the UK to suggest that programmes involving mentoring, counselling, coaching and advising are associated with better outcomes for students in terms of attainment and retention/completion. However, the research is not ‘causal’; in other words, it can’t tell us definitively that the programmes are effective. There is some mixed evidence of causal impact from other countries.

Should HEPs run mentoring/counselling/coaching/advising programmes to support student success? The existing evidence suggests that mentoring, counselling, coaching and advising approaches differ substantially from programme to programme, for example in terms of focus/goals, intensity, duration and the target population. Given these are intensive interventions, both in terms of staff and student time, there is a strong case for seeking more information on the efficacy versus other less intensive approaches. TASO recommends that HE providers seek to measure the effect of these programmes, and identify the most effective features, at a local level.