The UHR Mentoring Scheme

The UHR Mentoring Scheme is a national mentoring service, which provides development for HR professionals across the UK Higher Education (HE) Sector. UHR manages the service on behalf of its members.

The mentoring scheme is intended to be a straightforward facility where HR professionals can benefit from the experience and knowledge offered by longer established and well-regarded colleagues in the HE HR community.

The overarching aims of the Mentoring Scheme are to improve leadership capability and support career development within the sector. Mentoring has the potential to contribute to these aims by creating carefully matched mentor-mentee pairings, which are focused on:

  • enhancing HR leadership potential for the HE sector
  • sharing good practice across the sector and encouraging new ways of thinking
  • helping both mentors and mentees to extend and enrich their networks and partnerships
  • supporting the career development of HR professionals across the sector

The mentoring scheme has three distinctive characteristics:

  1. The participants are drawn from universities across the UK.
  2. The calibre of the mentors is quality assured through ensuring they have undertaken mentoring training and have the opportunity for ongoing development.
  3. The service is delivered free of charge by the mentors

Mentoring is offered as an intrinsic part of our flagship Emerging HR Leaders and Aspiring HR Business partner programmes. The process used for these programmes differs from that outlined below, in that the completion of the forms is not required however the mentor and mentee handbooks may still be useful.

How does the mentoring scheme work – and how is the matching carried out?

How to become a mentor

Mentors will be at HR Director level or be senior colleagues recommended by their HR Director who are established in the HE sector, experienced in a leadership role and who are willing to share their expertise and knowledge with HR professionals in other institutions, in a voluntary capacity.  Those interested in becoming a mentor should contact UHR’s Executive Director who will advise on next steps.  These include completing a Mentor Profile Form, might include undertaking mentoring training as well as  committing to ongoing Continuous Professional Development. A mentor handbook is available for those undertaking this important role

UHR holds a growing ‘Register of Mentors’ from which mentors are matched with mentees based on a number of predetermined criteria.

How to become a mentee

The first step for the prospective mentee is to discuss with their line manager how a mentoring relationship could support their development needs.  If it is decided to make an application to be matched with an appropriate UHR Mentor, a Mentee Profile Form and Line Manager Support Form should be completed and submitted to UHR at 

The prospective mentee will be encouraged to work through the Mentee Handbook designed to help them understand more about the mentoring process and how to maximise the benefits from the relationship.

Once an application has been made, UHR will then, where possible, offer a match with a mentor from the Register of Mentors. The mentor and mentee are then introduced to one another. There is an expectation that from the outset the mentee will know the overarching focus for the mentoring and what they hope to achieve from the relationship. They will also be expected to come to each session with an idea of what they are looking for the individual session to achieve.

The ‘chemistry’ meeting

The next step is for the mentor and mentee to meet face to face, which may be in a virtual environment, for a ‘chemistry session’ and if both conclude that the match is a good one, they will proceed as a pairing.

The exact way in which the mentoring relationship will work is defined by each pair.  Where practical, and if the pairing is in region, sessions should continue face to face.  If this is not possible, facetime, Microsoft teams, and zoom are all  options.  As a guide, the time commitment for mentors and mentees is approximately 1.5 – 2 hours per session and these sessions might take place every c.8 weeks, with relationships lasting from 6-18 months.

What happens if the relationship does not work out?

If the relationship does not work out and the mentor or mentee wish to terminate the agreement, they should contact UHR’s Executive Director. UHR would always encourage mentors and mentees, where possible to work through any challenges, however, we appreciate that this will not always be possible.  Once contacted, UHR’s Executive Director will work with individuals to agree how they would like to proceed from that point.

Approach to quality assurance

The approach to quality assurance of mentors is as follows:

  • Prospective mentors, on showing interest in becoming a mentor, will be able to review a list of criteria from UHR against which they can begin to self- assess against the basic criteria required of mentors.*
  • All mentors complete a Profile Form which captures information relating to their skills, experience, strengths and relevant know-how
  • All mentors undertake a one-day mentoring skills development workshop, unless there is prior accredited learning or experience

Monitoring and Evaluation

The effectiveness of the mentoring in meeting the development aspirations set out by the mentee and agreed with the mentor at the outset will be monitored through feedback questionnaires to both the mentor and mentee part way through the series of meetings.  There will be a fuller evaluation at the end of the sessions.

Support from the mentee’s host organisation

At the point where a mentee indicates an interest in joining the UHR Mentoring Scheme, information is sought from their line manager in support of their application.  This seeks assurance that the mentee will be supported to maximise the benefits of this development opportunity in the workplace.

How much does it cost to participate in the mentoring service?

All costs for the training and matching of mentors and mentees is funded by UHR.
Any travel, accommodation and out of pocket expenses costs are covered by the participating organisations.

Further information

If you would like to find out more or discuss the possibility of participating in the mentoring service, please contact Helen Scott, UHR’s Executive Officer:

*Criteria for selection of potential mentors

These criteria are designed to help those considering becoming a mentor, to recognise their strengths and areas for further development.

All potential mentors must have the ability to have effective 1-1, non-directive, conversations.  Mentors need to be able to:

  1. listen well and ask good open questions
  2. help and motivate mentees to find their own solutions
  3. give honest and direct feedback in a constructive way
  4. create a safe but challenging learning environment that suits the needs of the different types of people
  5. demonstrate good insight into their own strengths and weaknesses

In addition, potential mentors must have some experience, expertise and know-how which they can share in a way that will support leadership and /or career development.


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