What is it? Mentoring, counselling and role model interventions are designed to encourage students to perceive higher education (HE) as a desirable destination and a place where they would belong. These interventions often offer support to apply to higher education.

Evidence? There is some evidence from the UK to suggest these interventions can influence students’ attitudes/aspirations relating to HE. However, the research is not ‘causal’ (in other words, it can’t tell us definitively that the intervention is effective) and it does not show whether these approaches have an impact on actual HE participation. There is some stronger evidence of impact from the USA, which would benefit from replication in a UK context.

Should HE providers use mentoring/counselling/role model interventions to support to widen participation? Providers can use these kinds of approaches to influence students’ attitudes/aspirations.  There is not currently a strong evidence base for an associated effect on HE participation. Given these are intensive interventions (both in terms of staff and student time) there is strong case for seeking more information on the efficacy versus other less intensive approaches. Where Higher Education Providers (HEPs) run mentoring or counselling programmes, they should seek to evaluate them to understand if they are having the desired impact see the TASO evaluation guidance for more information on how to do this.