The Buddy System is a peer support system devised by physics undergraduates in 2008/09 and introduced for October 2009 intake. It consists of existing Physics students providing support to new undergraduates.
Other than going round the building on the initial tour, new students are under no obligation to participate in this scheme.
The Buddy System provides an additional point of contact for Stage 1 students and is a valuable communication channel. It facilitates the transfer of knowledge, based on experience of existing students 'Wisers', to new physics undergraduates 'Buds' who have not normally experienced University before. It encourages inter-year contact, and hence widens circles of acquaintance which helps students to develop self-confidence, improve their communication skills, and build a sense of community.
As well as benefiting new undergraduates, the system provides an opportunity for existing students to develop their social, pastoral, and organisational skills thereby enhancing their employability.
Students wishing to become a Wiser and/or the Buddy Scheme Coordinator submit a completed application form:
to the Education Support Office in week T2:11. These are vetted by the Head of Physics who will extract the forms of candidates not meeting the eligibility criteria and return them with a brief explanation of the reason for the decision. The remaining forms will be passed to the Senior Administrator who will liaise with the the Buddy Scheme Coordinator and inform the successful Wisers.
The outgoing and incoming Coordinators jointly organise a training session in week T3:06/T3:07 of the Summer term. This includes an introduction, discussion and role-play sessions, and Wisers will then receive, and agree to, a written code of conduct.
By the end of week T1:−1, the Senior Administrator and Buddy Scheme Coordinator will have agreed which Buds are assigned to each Wiser.
The Buddy System Coordinator meets with Wisers on the Monday of week T1:00 in order to confirm their availability, issue name badges / T-shirts, and discuss final arrangements.
There is no set schedule apart from a tour of the Physics Building in Welcome Week (week T1:00) and a meeting in week T1:01. However, Wisers should be available to provide timely support to their Buds throughout the year. The main contact, when Buds have queries, is through email.
New students may discuss with their Wiser any areas of concern to do with university life in general, not just teaching and Department management. It is not the role of the Wiser to provide academic support to the new students, although they should be willing to point them in the right direction to find the help they need. For academic help the student should ask their tutor.
To comply with University policy:
A solid partnership between the Wiser and Bud can only be based on trust and confidentiality. This means that anything discussed between Wiser and Bud is private, and the content and nature of any discussion or question should not be revealed to other people. There are several exceptions to this however:
Buds will be reminded by wisers that their conversations will be confidential unless what is said falls under the above categories/exceptions. It will be emphasised that some issues that are discussed might have to be discussed anonymously with another person in order to gain clarity or further information. Buds will be aware that they should think very carefully before telling their Wiser a particular piece of information, that they do not want to be shared with another party. If they continue to disclose, the Wiser may be obligated, to share the information.
Emails to the to the phy-Buddy@emps.exeter.ac.uk account will normally be deleted after one year. Wisers should delete copies of their correspondence with Buds at the end of the academic year, i.e. by T1:−2.
If wisers feel uncomfortable or unsure of what to do in a situation, then they are informed to seek advice from the Buddy System Coordinator, who is there to support the wisers in their role. The Director of Education is also available to provide advice/support as necessary.
It must be clear to all parties that the Wiser's role is not the same as that of a counsellor or a doctor. If the Bud needs help with an issue of this nature, they can ask the Wiser to direct them to the Wellbeing Service or the Students Health Centre, but the Wiser is not qualified to aid in these cases. For serious problems, the Wiser's task is to ensure that Buds know how to get help from the Professional Services; they do not need to be told about the details of the problem, and should not ask.