Zoology Graduate Support & Mentoring

The aim of the Zoology Graduate Support & Mentoring Scheme is to help provide support and guidance to graduate students throughout their time in the Department of Zoology. This is a voluntary service provided by postdoctoral researchers in the department.

We will offer this support in two different ways. Firstly, we will provide a weekly drop-in session, where graduate students can come with specific issues or questions. We aim to support students with academic issues (e.g. advice on giving presentations, career progression and planning) as well as more personal/social work-related difficulties (e.g. work-life balance, student/supervisor relations). Secondly, students can email a mentor requesting a one-to-one meeting. A major component of this scheme is to be a source of information about other Departmental or University services and direct students to these where appropriate (e.g. Careers Services, Counselling Services, graduate training courses).

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The volunteer mentors that make up the Graduate Support Team represent a cross-section of the department with a range of skills to help guide you through problems in your career. They have received 4 hours of training from the University of Oxford counselling service on the university support systems and have completed and an online course designed to give non-specialist staff the skills to offer first line mental health support to students, provided by the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust. 


All personal details and the content of all mentoring sessions are confidential. Under normal circumstances, nothing will be revealed to anyone without your express permission. There are some exceptions, which are to do with keeping you and others safe. If your mentor believes that you want to hurt either yourself or someone else, or if you or someone else is in danger, the mentor will need to pass on that information. There are two phases around extending confidentiality. Phase One is to share the details anonymously so that the mentor can receive advice on the situation from one or more of the following: other members Zoology Graduate Support & Mentoring  scheme, the Counselling Service, your college welfare officer, the Head of Administration and Finance in Zoology or a relevant external hotline (e.g. the Samaritans) depending on both the context of the problem and availability of the relevant contact (e.g. for problems related to the department, we would preferentially select the counselling service or your college first). Phase Two is to share identifying contact details if the risk is deemed high enough. The mentor will always try to discuss initiating Phases One and Two with you first.


We operate in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation. Be aware that Emails will be treated as confidential but will be stored on university server as per the guidelines of the University of Oxford (https://www.ox.ac.uk/about/organisation/governance/dataprivacy?wssl=1). You can always just book an appointment without mentioning any specifics:


“Dear {Mentor name},


I would like to request a mentor meeting as soon as possible/in the next week. Please could you let me know your availability.


Thank you!”


Data we collect: We record the number of people we see, year of study and broad content of the issues; such as stress, student/supervisor relations, manuscript preparation, public speaking etc. We never record your name or specifics that could be used to identify you. We do not share names or details with other mentors, so we will not have details of any prior meetings with a different mentor.


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