Before we start looking forward though, I just want to back-track a little to September 2012. At the start of that month I attended the Vitae Researcher Development International Conference in Manchester. This is an annual event focussing on professional and career development for researchers in higher education. Earlier in the year I had submitted a workshop proposal for the one of the breakout sessions. And guess what theme of the workshop was… yes, correct, ‘mentoring’.
Vitae, the organisation hosting the conference asked me to partner up with another Scottish HE colleague who had proposed a similar workshop theme. I duly met up with Gillian Johnstone from the University of Strathclyde, and together we developed an 80 minute workshop session about setting up mentoring schemes, based on the experiences from our own institutions.
I am pleased to say that the workshop was well attended and was great fun – and even better, we got terrific feedback from participants. This workshop was a great opportunity for Gillian and I to share some of what we have learned about setting up and managing mentoring schemes to other colleagues in higher education, and to try to communicate our enthusiasm for mentoring as a really effective way to support staff in their career and professional development. As well as pointing out how mentoring schemes are cost effective and can achieve profoundly positive outcomes for participants, we were able to provide some simple ‘top tips’ for setting up and maintaining mentoring schemes. I was also able to include a brief section about data handling and management, which as you know is a subject close to my (and this blog's) heart.
Gillian and I noticed that throughout the conference other contributors repeatedly referenced mentoring as something that we (in Higher Education) should be doing more of to support researchers. This observation, together with the high level of interest and positive reaction to our own contribution, gave us (or more truthfully Gillian) a great idea – what we need is a dedicated conference specifically about mentoring in the Scottish HE sector. And thus was born the concept of Mentoring Scotland 2013.
We have subsequently developed a conference proposal and sought reactions from our colleagues in other institutions. Based on their very encouraging responses we have now gained support from both Vitae and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and are delighted to announce that the conference will take place on 7 May 2013 at the Stirling Management Centre.
The conference fee will be £62.00 and it is open to practitioners in researcher development, support staff and academic development from across the Scottish HE sector, and booking will soon be available via the Vitae website.
We are also calling for contributors, so if you have expertise or experience in any aspect of mentoring, including development of mentoring skills, running different types of mentoring initiatives, mentoring in other sectors, evaluating mentoring or mentoring qualifications that you could share - or anything else you think will be a helpful addition - then please get in touch.
See you there.