‘Inspired by Business’: A case of mentoring among low socio-economic students

Helena Liu, Susan McGrath-Champ


To boost enrolment and retention of students from low socio-economic backgrounds in higher education, existing research has proposed a number of ways to support their university experiences. One initiative highlighted in the literature is mentoring, which has been shown to enhance students’ skillsets, networks, and their self-esteem. This study examines the experiences of mentoring for low socio-economic status students accepted into a competitive widening participation programme, ‘Inspired by Business’, at the University of Sydney Business School. The purpose of the research was to evaluate the programme’s perceived benefits for both mentees and mentors. Through interviews conducted with students and mentors, the findings reveal that mentoring was highly beneficial for the students, where the informal networks that developed between the participants developed their social capital and enhanced their sense of belonging. However, we highlight that mentoring processes of matching and preparation are critical aspects of mentor satisfaction.


widening participation; low socio-economic status; mentoring; social inclusion; first year

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International Studies in Widening Participation ISSN 2203-8841