SOAS University of London


What is Mentoring?

Mentoring is often about helping someone work effectively within an organisation. A mentor is often described as a "critical friend" or "supportive challenger". The term 'mentoring' is interpreted in different ways, and is often used interchangeably with 'coaching'. Both are about developing the individual, whether or not the mentor/coach works in the same area, and a mentoring session may include plenty of coaching.

A mentor can provide support in the form of information and help with direction. A mentor may help the mentee to understand themselves more fully by helping them to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and then helping them to address weaknesses or gaps in knowledge.

You can find out more via the SOAS Self-Development Toolkit, which has numerous resources for mentoring, such as Top Tips for Mentoring, How to be an Outstanding Mentee, and a Mentee's Progress Document.

Types of Mentoring

There are three mentoring streams at SOAS:

Induction Mentoring

Developmental Mentoring

Academic Mentoring


All new members of staff.

Any member of staff who would like to develop their career, or be supported in addressing challenges at work.

Academic staff with less than 3 years' experience in teaching and research roles.


Any existing member of staff, usually in the same department, who can be a friendly face, answer queries, offer confidential support and is available to meet regularly.

Nominated by mentee’s line manager.

A more experienced member of staff who can listen and provide non-judgemental, confidential support and guidance and is available to meet regularly.

Nominated by SL&D or requested by mentee.

Post-probationers and normally of Senior Lecturer status or above. Mentor works with HoD to set objectives, assess progress, and provide necessary support to enable mentee’s progression.

Appointed by Head of Department.

Expected time commitment

Regular meetings (at least once a month) for the duration of the mentee’s probation period.

Mutually agreed between mentee and mentor; usually meeting for one or two hours a month for up to one year.

3 years or more if required.


To support new staff into settling into their new role and the School.

Sharing of knowledge across the School.

To ensure successful completion of probation.

To improve retention and enhance networks across the School.

To support staff moving or wanting to move into a new or changing role;

To support staff facing difficulties at any stage in their career.

To improve retention and enhance networks across the School.

To reduce the gender and BAME pay gap.

To support the progression of female and BAME staff.

To support people with caring responsibilities.

To support new teaching and research staff into settling into their new role and the School.


To ensure successful completion of probation.

Further information

Find out more by reading the Induction Mentoring guidance.

Find out more by reading the Developmental Mentoring guidance.

Find out more on the Probation Procedure for New Academic Staff webpage.

What are the Benefits?

  • It helps to develop and support individuals (the mentees)
  • The individuals feel more valued because someone is spending time with them and showing an interest It uses the skills and experience of the mentors which may otherwise be untapped
  • It's an alternative to the "workshop" approach to staff training and development and as such may reach staff which other development/training activities don’t
  • It helps mentors reflect. Discussing issues with a mentee can force the mentor to think about their own issues and ways of working
  • It helps both the mentor and the mentee develop their communication skills such as listening, questioning, problem solving skills, etc.
  • It helps create informal networks. By setting up mentoring relationships across units and departments it will create relationships which might not otherwise exist and so help the staff involved to see the University from a different perspective.

What Makes a Good Mentor?

  • An ability to listen and to ask sensible questions.
  • Someone who is curious and genuinely interested in the mentee.
  • They need to be honest, trustworthy and to maintain confidentiality if appropriate.
  • But the most important quality is a willingness to give time to the process.

Are you interested in being a mentor but not sure whether you'd be a good match? You can take a short  Mentoring Self-Assessment Tool (msword; 58kb) of your readiness to be mentor. If you have any questions or are still unsure, contact the Staff Learning and Development team for a chat.

Mentoring at SOAS

As per the SOAS  Mentoring Policy (pdf; 170kb) , mentoring is offered to all staff, at any stage in their career.

If you are interested in having a mentor, complete the Developmental Mentee Application form (msword; 821kb)  . If you would like to be a mentor to member of staff complete the Developmental Mentor Application form (msword; 817kb) .

Cross-Institutional Mentoring

SOAS is currently piloting a cross-institutional mentoring scheme for Professional Services staff with nine other HEIs in London. This scheme aims to provide staff with additional networking opportunities and a wider pool of contacts. If you would like to have a mentor from one of these institutions, please complete the  Developmental Mentee Application form (msword; 821kb) . If you have any questions, contact

Before You Begin

Before you commit to a mentoring relationship, we recommend mentors and mentees complete the  Mentoring Contract Checklist (msword; 47kb) together.

For more information on any aspect of the Mentoring Policy contact the Staff Learning and Development office.