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Students shaping the Buddy Scheme

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Thank you to everyone that has taken the time to complete one of our feedback forms; after reviewing all your comments and suggestions here is a summary of what you said and what we did.

Buddy Scheme Autumn Term in Numbers

The total number of students involved in the Buddy Scheme during the academic year 2015/26 was 1,329; made up of 358 Buddy Volunteers supporting 971 new students. This is an increase of 58% from last year.

 

Year

Number of participants

2012/13

91

2013/14

315

2014/15

844

2015/16

1329

 



 

The Good Stuff

We would just like to say thank you for all your positive feedback about your experience, here is an overview of some of the general comments:

The feedback for events have been positive, with 85% of students rating them as “excellent” cumulatively over the last two years.

 

76% of the respondents stated that they would recommend the Buddy Scheme to a friend.

74% felt they were getting enough support.

64% felt they had been well matched with at least one of their buddies.

The majority of students did meet up with their buddies and did not have problems communicating with them as seen from the charts below.

Over the last 3 years: Question ““How has being a part of the Buddy Scheme had an impact on your integration at Sussex”:

There is a 250% decrease in the number of people stating that the scheme “did not help” them at all.

There is a 92% increase of students feeling it “has made a bit of difference”.

 

When comparing “it didn’t make much of a difference” with “it has made a bit of a difference” on the graph below, it is clear that there is a positive trend across the 3 years.

“I think it is a very helpful and useful event for new students to integrate into a new environment well - especially those that may have difficulty to make new friends. Likewise, for buddy volunteers, it is the opportunity to meet people from different countries, cultures, interests, and possibly make a new friend.”

“I really enjoyed it, and I made a friend for life on it last year who I will be visiting in Australia after I graduate!”

“I believe the buddy scheme is an amazing initiative. I was paired with a lovely girl who will be undoubtedly be a friend for life which is an amazing reward for volunteering my time. It is worth noting that the leaders of the buddy scheme are really friendly and do organize events very effectively.”

Your comments and suggestions

Many of you were unable to attend an event because you were not available at the time they were taking place. We will be organising future events in the evenings and weekends more as we acknowledge Wednesday afternoon is no longer free from teaching.

We will keep most Buddy Scheme events local in order to reduce the cost of private coach hire saving money we can use to further subsidise our events and increase the number of tickets available if possible.

We will be collaborating with more student societies to give Buddy Scheme members more opportunities to get involved and to allow societies to work towards their Leaves.

Thank you for your event suggestions, some of which will hopefully be taking place next year.

There are lots of comments in your feedback about poor Buddy Volunteers who did not undertake the function of their role. From feedback, it can be concluded that if a new student has a very willing, supportive and friendly volunteer, they will have a good experience and the scheme will have had more of a positive impact on their integration at Sussex. If volunteers are not willing to contact their new student, this leaves them unsupported and potentially isolated, which is not acceptable. Therefore, we have put some things in place that will hopefully help with clarity and expectations of the role:

  • New online training for all volunteers - accessible at all points in the year.

  • An information pack for all new students that will be emailed out at sign up.

  • A new email monitoring system to ensure that all students receive important emails which can be tracked by staff.

  • Improved offer of extra skills training available to volunteers that will enable them to do their role to the best of their ability.

It was commented that the name “Buddy” scheme was a bit patronising. This was not meant to be patronising at all although we can see where you’re coming from. We have looked into this and after some research, decided on “Buddy” as we discovered that there are much worse names out there! “Buddy” is nationally recognised throughout other Students’ Unions and Universities and we tried to avoid confusion with other schemes at Sussex that already use words such as “mentor” and “peer”. Some organisations will assign new members of staff to a current colleague and refer to them as their ‘buddy’ so it also mirrors this set up. If you have any suggestions we'd love to hear them, please get in touch.

To make the Buddy Scheme more relevant to postgraduates we surveyed 135 postgraduates for their thoughts. These are changes that will be made:

  • To put on joint events with the PGA such as coffee mornings and the Ale Trail

  • To work with the PGA and the PG Education Officer more

  • To introduce a Postgraduate-only Buddy Scheme Facebook group so postgraduates can talk to each other there if they are not matched with a PG buddy volunteer

  • Reinforce the message that it is ok to be “e-buddies” if PGs are too busy to meet in person.

It has been commented that “nationality” should be added as an option on the application form. This has not been done on purpose as we encourage students to socialise with students from different backgrounds as this enhances the global community in which Sussex is developing in line with the One World Sussex ethos.

There was a comment that the Welcome Party in Freshers Week was very good and they were disappointed that there was not one in January. We’re sorry that this was missed because there was a Buddy Scheme Welcome (Back) party in “Refreshers Week” - we held an afternoon tea party in the Common Room in Falmer House which was really well attended. The Buddy Scheme will always have a Welcome event at Freshers and “Refreshers”.

Don’t forget that we are here to support you and if you are not happy, we want to know. If you are not getting on with your buddy or are not feeling supported, please let us know because we can help. It is easy to re-match you with another Buddy Volunteer.

Here are the many ways we can be contacted, please don’t be shy :)

by emailing: buddyscheme@sussexstudent.com

or individually: jane.t@sussexstudent.com or natalie.s@sussexstudent.com

come and see us at the Activities Office, First Floor, Falmer House. Open 10am - 4.30pm weekdays during term time.

email via the website

Message us on Facebook


 

 

Contact us

Got a comment/criticism about anything discussed in this article? Let us know on our social media channels!

facebook.com/thestudentsunion

twitter.com/ussu

instagram.com/sussexsu

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Thank you to everyone that has taken the time to complete one of our feedback forms; after reviewing all your comments and suggestions here is a summary of what you said and what we did to make the Buddy Scheme the best it can be!

 
 

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