What is Peer Learning & Support
Types of Peer Support
We support 2 types of projects – Peer Learning Schemes and Peer Support Schemes.
In Peer Learning Schemes (PALS), trained volunteers in second year and above plan and run study sessions for other students. These academic sessions cover a variety of topics, including settling into University life, study skills, course content, module choices, and assessment. To find out more, click here.
Peer Support Schemes have a more pastoral or community-building focus. They aim to build a sense of community, enhance student wellbeing and enrich the University experience. Trained Student Leaders run regular social activities and well-being focused sessions to bring together all year groups. Sessions can vary from social activities such as films nights and BBQs, to well-being or academic focused sessions. To find out more, click here.
The Model & How it works in Edinburgh
Each of our 52 projects is a partnership between the Students’ Association, students and University staff. Projects are embedded at School level and are student-led. They are run by teams of student volunteers (Student Leaders) and supported by staff. The Students’ Association is responsible for providing additional support to these projects, training new Leaders and for quality assurance. As of September 2019, we now have a project in every School, with the exception of Divinity and the Centre for Open Learning. This consists of 35 Peer Learning Schemes, and 17 Peer Support Schemes.
In some Schools, there is an extra layer of support available to PL&S Schemes: the School Senior Leader (SSL). SSLs are paid members of student-staff, employed by the School. Their remit is to support PL&S projects at School level, providing a vital link between staff and the Student Leaders.
All of our sessions are free, and students can attend as many or as little as they like. Booking is not usually required.
Most of our projects primarily run sessions for Undergraduate 1st year students, but many also run events for 2nd, 3rd and 4th years. We also have some projects for Postgraduate students, which can be found here.
Neither Peer Learning nor Peer Support should be seen as a replacement for professional services: instead, it is intended to act as an additional layer of support available to students.
Benefits of Peer Learning & Support
PL&S provides student attendees with a great place to meet new people, discuss ideas, consolidate their knowledge of course content, improve their grades and start learning the terminology/ skills they will need to excel in their disciplines. Students can find it hugely reassuring to be able to speak to their peers (who have done the same courses they are currently studying), ask any ‘silly questions’ and get a sense of what is expected of them. PL&S also helps to build a sense of community amongst students taking a programme, and across year groups.
For Student Leaders, getting involved with PL&S is an incredible leadership and development opportunity. We run skills development programmes for Leaders, and their volunteering is recognised on their Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR). Further, we also work with the Careers Service to run our Edinburgh Award, ensuring that volunteers are able to articulate all of their great work (and the skills that they have learnt) in job applications and Interviews.
What PL&S attendees had to say
“The PALS leaders are amazing, very knowledgeable, and all around help me understand the subject more holistically”- EconPALS attendee
“Academically, it has made me more confident, I am able to solve more problems” – MathsPALS attendee
“It is a great way to get to know other students and parts of Edinburgh which you wouldn’t find on your own!” – Global Buddies attendee
“InfPALS is a great opportunity to learn new skills which are useful for both university and employability. Also, working with others to accomplish the tasks was great fun!” – InfPALS attendee