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Mentoring Programme - FAQ



What is the NIHR Academy Mentoring Programme?

The mentoring programme is designed to support NIHR Academy postdoctoral researchers to find a mentor from the senior NIHR leadership community. The programme offers a structured and supported approach to working with a mentor, along with an online platform to enhance communication and engagement between mentors and mentees.

It also offers opportunities for mentors and mentees to undertake professional development so that they can develop their mentoring experience and practice. The programme has three intakes planned for 2021, in April, May and July.

Who can join the programme?

We want the programme to be as inclusive as possible and encourage applications from mentors and mentees from across the full range of NIHR-associated specialities, disciplines, professional backgrounds and organisations.

The programme is currently open to:

  • Mentees: NIHR Academy Members who hold an NIHR postdoctoral award and/or hold a postdoctoral position and are based in NIHR Infrastructure (e.g. BRC) or in an NIHR School.
    Doctoral and postdoctoral award holders on the HEE/NIHR ICA Programme can access funded career mentorship through the ICA Programme’s bespoke Mentorship Scheme. See our ICA Programme page for further information.

  • Mentors: NIHR Academy Members or Associate Members who are NIHR research leaders. You may be an NIHR research professor or senior investigator, or an NIHR-based postdoctoral researcher with significant postdoctoral experience (typically, at least 5 years). Alternatively, you may be an NIHR Academy Member or Associate Member, contributing to NIHR's work at a senior leadership level, for example, an awarding panel member, or a senior leader in NIHR including its Centres, Infrastructure and Schools.

This mentoring programme is not currently available for Global Health Research Training Programme members. We are actively considering how to support the mentoring needs of our global health community and will update this FAQ in due course. If you have any queries about this please contact 

I am not eligible to join the programme as a mentee. Can you advise on alternative schemes?

We recognise the value of mentorship in supporting professional and career development. As the programme can not support all NIHR Members we are developing resources and guidance to support NIHR Members who are not eligible to join the programme. The first of these resources can be found on the mentoring programme page on the NIHR website.

How do I apply to join the programme as a mentee?

Applicants are invited to complete an expression of interest form. In this, you will be asked to indicate which cohort you wish to join.

Following the closing date for each cohort, expressions of interest will be reviewed and places on the programme will be allocated. You will be informed of the outcome of your expression of interest to participate in the programme within three weeks of the cohort closing date. If we do not have the capacity to accept you into the programme the first time you express an interest, you will be notified and asked if you wish to be considered for a later cohort.

How do I register my interest in becoming a mentor for the programme?

If you are interested in supporting the programme as a mentor, you can complete an expression of interest form.

Following the closing date for each cohort, expressions of interest will be reviewed. You will be informed of the outcome of your expression of interest within three weeks of the cohort closing date. If we do not have the capacity to accept you into the programme (due, for example, to not having sufficient mentees to match), we will contact you to ask if you wish to be considered for inclusion in a later cohort.

How will mentors and mentees be matched?

When expressions of interest are closed for each cohort, they will be reviewed by the NIHR Academy Programme team to identify likely potential mentor/mentee matches. This will inform the constitution of each cohort. Once all participants have been enrolled onto the online mentoring platform, mentees will be responsible for contacting a potential mentor and establishing whether the relationship is likely to provide what is needed for their development. As there will be a range of mentors in the programme, if the first person you are matched with isn’t the right match for you, you will be able to approach a different mentor.

How long is the programme?

The mentoring programme is a 12 month commitment.

All mentees and mentors will participate in an orientation workshop before commencing the mentoring programme. This will be a live virtual workshop of 1.5 hours in duration.

You will also be invited to contribute to ongoing feedback and evaluation activities which will help us further develop and refine the programme for future cohorts and allows us to ensure the delivery of a high quality mentoring provision.

During this time, mentors and mentees will meet regularly. We anticipate that, initially, meetings will take place virtually. Participants should remain aware of the government guidelines relating to Covid-19 and adhere to any requirements.

Mentors and mentees will negotiate and agree how much time to spend meeting together, and how frequently, at the start of the mentoring relationship. Typically, you might expect to spend between 6-12 hours with your mentor/mentee over 12 months. This could constitute a short meeting every month, or longer meetings less frequently.

The most important thing is to discuss your mutual expectations about time and communication at the start of your relationship. Keep in mind that mentoring doesn’t necessarily require large amounts of your time. Even brief phone calls or e-mail exchanges can have a big impact.

After 12 months, mentors and mentees may agree to continue working together, and any future relationship will be independent of the programme.

What support is available to me whilst I am participating in the NIHR Academy Mentoring Programme?

There is a schedule of professional development webinars and workshops available throughout the 12 month programme which can be accessed by all mentors and mentees. Delivered virtually, the programme of support focuses on the key elements of the mentoring relationship, how to get the most from it, and how to enhance your effectiveness as a mentee or mentor. We offer the same development opportunities to mentees as we do to mentors, as we recognise that mentees may wish to become mentors in the future.

A programme handbook, webinars, virtual drop-in sessions and a range of online resources will also be available to all participants in the programme. The NIHR Academy programme team will also support participants and can be contacted via email 

Additionally, mentors will have access to regular action learning sessions to support their mentoring practice.

Will the personal and professional information I share through the mentoring programme be kept confidential?

Yes. Privacy and confidentiality will be covered during the orientation event, and guidance will be provided in the programme handbook. Programme participants should also adhere to all applicable privacy policies and procedures instituted by their host organisation.

How will I communicate with my mentor/mentee?

The online mentoring platform enables mentors and mentees to schedule meetings, keep notes and communicate with each other. You will agree how you will ‘meet’ with your mentor/mentee at the beginning of your mentoring relationship. Communication may be in person (current government guidelines permitting), via phone, e-mail, web meeting, or other form of communication.

How will standards be ensured on the programme?

To ensure a high standard of mentoring provision, the programme is informed by the recognised standards of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council’s International Standards for Mentoring and Coaching Programmes. The development of the programme is overseen by a steering group. We also provide a range of professional development opportunities to support the development of mentoring practice available to participants on the NIHR Academy mentoring programme.

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