At ULaw, we understand that making new friends during the pandemic isn’t always easy. To allow our students from all over the world to get to know each other, we’ve introduced the ULaw Buddy Scheme. We sat down with Widening Participation Fundraiser and Coordinator Fatmata Daramy to discuss how students can make the most of the ULaw Buddy Scheme.
By Cara Fielder. Published 20 September 2021.
The Buddy Scheme has been designed to enable students to communicate with, support, and get to know each other. Students can share their experiences, learn from others on their course and campus, and connect with their peers from other courses and campuses. We strongly believe that students being able to provide each other with reciprocal advice and support will help to create a sense of community and belonging at both a campus and University-wide level.
The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that students, especially undergraduates, have not necessarily been able to form connections with other students in the same way. For some, the lockdown measures proved to be very difficult, with increased amounts of isolation and loneliness. As such, the ability to connect with other students is something users have found invaluable.
A buddy on the platform can easily connect to other students. A buddy will be able to look through other students' profiles and pair up based on similarities. These could include courses, campuses, hobbies or interests. The buddies will be able to talk to each other via the platform; they can also read and contribute to the various threads and forums that have been created.
The platform allows forums to be created that the students can use for specific things such as discussing specific classes/content, employability skills and applying for job roles. Or they can be used to meet others with similar characteristics or experiences as them, for example, mature students, online students, disabled students, and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students.
We will always encourage students to join the platform. The more students we have, the better the experience will be. To sign up, please click here and follow the instructions to register for an account.
Once you have signed up, you can also download a messaging app so you can message your buddy or buddies easily on your smartphone.
We are committed to the safety of our students, so every student must be approved before joining. A team of wellbeing experts also moderates the platform to ensure safe and enjoyable interactions between students.
Students can build relationships and make connections, enabling a sense of community and sense of belonging. Therefore, this programme is integral to both the University and the students. Providing our undergraduate students with this opportunity will also ensure that they have the skills needed to partake in other mentoring/buddy schemes in the future, which might include communicating with employers or alumni. Learning the skills required to network and confidently communicate with other people adequately will benefit the students in the long term and greatly benefit this scheme.
Personally, I did not have a mentor relationship until I was in my final year of university, and I believe that the lack of a buddy or a connection of that sort had a negative impact on my overall university experience. At times, it felt as if I was flying blind, as I did not have the confidence to ask my personal tutor for the guidance I needed for fear of him believing I was not intelligent enough to be at university.
In the final year of my undergraduate degree, when I formed a relationship with older students and was able to have the questions I had answered, the confidence I gained was immeasurable. At some points in my educational career, simply knowing that other students were going through the same experiences brought a sense of comfort.
The most important piece of advice I can give to people joining the Buddy Scheme is to be open to getting to know other students who have different experiences from you. One of the most amazing and invaluable aspects of university is the connections you make. These connections can not only increase your interpersonal skills, but they can also improve academic attainment through the formation of study groups.