Skip to main content Skip to footer

New Research Published by The Southern Universities Network


One-to-one (1:1) sessions offer direct personalised information and advice to Uni Connect students, and are a key component of the SUN Progression Mentor role within target colleges across the SUN region (Hampshire, Dorset, and the Isle of Wight). In 2021-22 SUN Progression Mentors provided 1:1 support to 1,725 students.

They have helped me throughout the year with all different types of queries!
College Student,
Focus Group Participant

Throughout 2021-22, Naomi Clements (former SUN Research and Evaluation Officer) led a flagship evaluation research project which sought to understand whether 1:1 sessions with a SUN Progression Mentor had a positive impact on students’ likelihood of applying to higher education (HE), their knowledge of higher education and their confidence in making decisions about their future educational choices.

The evaluation for this project included surveys, which were completed by participating students at the beginning and end of the academic year, plus focus groups and interviews with students who had engaged in at least one 1:1 with the SUN Progression Mentor based at their college.

At the beginning of the year, before receiving support from a SUN Progression Mentor, 72% of students who participated in the evaluation project reported that they were already considering applying to HE. However, their knowledge of HE options, pathways, and confidence in applying was low.

The research found that once students engaged in a 1:1 session with a SUN Progression Mentor, they reported a positive increase in their:

I don’t know anyone who has been to university, so the Progression Mentor has been my support
College Student,
Focus Group Participant

Specifically, students outlined that the SUN Progression Mentors were approachable and always happy to help. Students who would be first in their families to progress to HE outlined the importance of the SUN Progression Mentor in providing support, knowledge, and advice where parents/carers may have been unable to. Students also mentioned the important advice provided by SUN Progression Mentors about completing UCAS personal statements, an area where students are least confident.

The findings from the report highlight the important and positive role the SUN Progression Mentor provides within colleges.

We know from our work within Academic Resilience how important it is for a young person to be able to map out a plan of their next steps and to know where to get that information from. The whole idea of the Uni Connect Programme is to help young people make informed decisions about their next steps and this can be reflected in the work of the SUN Progression Mentors. The targeted, proactive support that the SUN Progression Mentor offers Uni Connect students is a key part of the work we do in the SUN, and I’m pleased that the young people who took part in the evaluation reflect that they have found that support invaluable
Claire O’Neill,
Head of the SUN

Sinead Holmes,
SUN Programme Manager