S2S mentor numbers drop by 23% since 2017

The number of students volunteering as mentors has dropped by over 23% since the 2016/17 academic year

The number of mentors signing up to the Student 2 Student (S2S) mentor service have dropped consistently since the 2016/17 academic year.

Figures released to Trinity News showed that 647 students signed up to the service as mentors for 2018/19. This number is down from 695 in the 2017/18 academic year, and 842 in the 2016/17.

Speaking to Trinity News, Orlagh Morris of S2S stated that “students have cited having to work and commuting longer distances – and therefore having less available time – as reasons for not being able to sign up”. Despite the decrease, S2S maintained that they are not experiencing a shortage.

Morris explained: “S2S matches mentors to specific courses, we strive to recruit the required number of mentors from each course to match student numbers. Our target is to have 15 students in each mentor group, with each mentor group including at least two mentors.”

The average number of students in a mentor group this year was 16 students, down from 17 in 2017/18 and 18 in 2016/17. Retention levels of mentors stand at 55% this year, down from 58% in 2017/18 but up from 51% in 2016/17.

Morris also highlighted that “there are some courses with a higher sign-up of mentors, while other courses have fewer mentors signing up and so a higher ratio of students to mentors.”

Ciarán Ó’Cuív, one of four head mentors in science, spoke Trinity News on how the new streaming of science courses has affected mentor numbers in that faculty: “Last year there were eight head mentors for all the Science degrees – general and single honours direct entry courses. This year there are only four head mentors for Science, at least in part because of the way the Science course is now streamed and courses which were previously direct entry are now part of larger streams.”

“Courses like Nanoscience and Human Genetics which previously would have had separated head mentors no longer do and there hasn’t been an increase in the number of head mentors for the overall science streams to account for it,” O Cuív explained. However, he suggested that this reduction in head mentors may simply be down to the streaming and expressed hope that the situation would improve next year.

A TSM English Literature and Sociology student who served as an S2S mentor last year told Trinity News how, due to a shortage of mentors for Drama students, she was drafted in as a mentor for these students, having originally been assigned to a TSM group. She noted that this was “not ideal given the specific nature of Drama as a course”.

S2S is a student-led initiative aimed at providing information and support to students. The service offers mentors to every incoming undergraduate honours degree student and visiting student in College. S2S invite all undergraduates who have completed at least one year in Trinity to sign up as mentors.

Michael Gilna

Michael Gilna is a former Investigations Editor of Trinity News.