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Developing pedagogical and social peer support for students of international bachelor programmes (EDU-BUDDY)´s Profile image

Developing pedagogical and social peer support for students of international bachelor programmes (EDU-BUDDY)

01.08.2024 - 31.12.2024
School of Educational Sciences and Psychology, Philosophical Faculty


Main funder

Itä-Suomen yliopisto / University of Eastern Finland

Developing pedagogical and social peer support for students of international bachelor programmes (EDU-BUDDY) funder logo

The EDU-BUDDY project received support from the University of Eastern Finland for promoting equality and inclusion. The support is intended to enable concrete actions in accordance with the objectives listed in the university's equality and non-discrimination plan.

Contact persons

The School of Educational Sciences and Psychology (subject of education and adult education) received its first students in the new international bachelor programme in Lifelong Learning and Sustainable Development in 2022, being one of the two first international bachelor programmes of the University of Eastern Finland. The new bachelor programme has attracted a diverse group of international and Finnish students to study at the university. While many students have earlier experience of higher education studies in Finland or abroad, students and staff have identified a need for support in integrating to a new university (and many times new country) and the university community. The programme staff and students have positive experiences from the university’s tutoring system but have jointly identified that students would like to have a longer tutoring relationship during the first year of their bachelor studies. 

The University of Eastern Finland has previously investigated the possibilities of a Buddy System for international students in addition to tutoring programmes. Buddy systems or programmes are currently in use in universities such as University of Aarhus (where it is similar to UEF’s tutoring programme) and University of Oulu (where it is a mentoring programme for international staff). The purpose of this project is to combine parts and good practices from these examples and also develop good practices for use in our own university setting. The long term goal is to both improve students’ wellbeing and integration to eastern Finland and their university community, as well as provide information and tools for international bachelor programmes on ways that programmes can provide mentoring and peer guidance systems.

The goal of the pilot buddy programme is to increase students’ wellbeing, increase awareness of study and mental health support services, and provide data and tools for international bachelor programmes on the possibilities of peer guidance and study support organised inside study programmes. The buddies, recruited from Finnish and international students of the School of Educational Sciences and Psychology, will gain training on peer guidance and knowledge of support service structures in and outside UEF, which can provide valuable experience in pursuing their career objectives in the future. The students participating in the buddy programme (who get their own ‘buddy’ for the academic year of 2024 2025) will be provided valuable support for the early stage of their studies, have better tools in seeking support for their studies and wellbeing when needed, and have a local friend (buddy) to help them integrate to life in Finland and at the university.

Another objective of the project is to provide more tools to provide support and peer guidance to online students of the bachelor programme who start their studies in September online and arrive later during the academic year. Students in this situation have given feedback that they would like more peer guidance as they arrive late r during the academic year. The buddy system will be a flexible method to provide guidance to students in different situations, studying on campus or online.

As such, the project will promote at least the following goals outlined by the university’s gender equality and equal opportunities plan:

  1. We are the leading working and study environment in Finland
  2. The learning, belonging to the community and promotion of well being of students are key
  3. Equal, accessible and reachable support and counselling services are available to students

The project will also contribute to the advancement or dissemination of at least the following measures of the university’s gender equality and equal opportunities plan:

  1. A good start for studies on an equal basis: developing the process.
  2. New operating models and processes for studying will be introduced, and actors will be supported.
  3. Support for learning and strengthening pedagogical competence.