Peer Assisted Learning

Peer assisted learning

At UCA we offer lots of different kinds of support such as the Gateway for: wellbeing support, adjustments for a learning difference or financial support, Campus Registry for helpful course information and trouble shooting, IT to get your tech in order or Careers support for developing yourself and your future…

As well as speaking to our staff teams, it can also be reassuring and helpful to connect with more experienced UCA students in order to receive help with your questions about your course or aspects of your student life (as well as hear their experiences and top tips). We call this Peer to Peer support. We have lots of different kinds of Peer to Peer Support at UCA – on this page you can find out more about Peer Assisted Learning or ‘PAL’ for short.

What is PAL?

Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) is a student led initiative in which small groups of new to UCA students are placed with a pair of mentors (PAL Leaders) who are typically more experienced students on the same course. These PAL Leaders host small sessions of up to 10-15 students and provide a space for students to make friends, learn more about student life at UCA and build a stronger understanding of their course content and techniques. It’s a safe place to ask questions and improve your confidence in your studies.

This initiative is currently used in over 1500 higher education institutions in over 30 countries. At UCA we are proud to be part of this international community and are closely connected to The European Centre for SI PASS (Lund University), offering the same fantastic programme at UCA under our name ‘PAL’.

What are the benefits of PAL?

Participating in PAL as a student attending sessions has lots of benefits:

  • Improves your own understanding of course material
  • Regular attendance can help to improve your grades and boost your confidence with your course
  • Great opportunity to make new friends on your course
  • Safe place to ask your questions
  • Positive way to transition into university life
  • Obtain practical advice from other students about studying
  • Develop your collaborative and independent study skills
  • Develop connections with and get to know students in years above you on your course
  • Pathway to become a PAL Leader and benefit from opportunity in future years of study

To find out more, email

“I feel like it's a more relaxed environment to get to know people”

“…I think it has really helped me come out of my shell”

“I felt like there were so many benefits… when we'd be talking in class about something, we'd be like… oh, yeah, we talked about this at PAL”

“There was one time where I was really stuck with my essay… and so we spent a lot of time working through that. For me that was most memorable, because it helped me out so much that after the session, I felt - okay… I know where to start”

“It's kind of part of already building a network, who knows… one day the PAL Leaders might hire me”

“…they understand what we're going through which I find quite comforting”

Facilitating sessions as a PAL Leader also has lots of benefits which include:

  • Developing leadership, facilitation and mentoring skills
  • Enhancing your skills and experience of working in a team
  • Cultivating strong planning, organisation and time management skills
  • Reinforcing your own knowledge of your subject and associated techniques
  • Growing a network of students with similar interests
  • Contributing to building a sense of community in your department
  • Rewarding opportunity to share your experience with and encourage newer-to-university students

To find out more, email

“The biggest thing I have gained from the experience of being a PAL Leader probably is a lot of confidence… I think that will translate outside of university”

“The biggest highlight of PAL has been being able to actually give back my knowledge to the to the other years and sort of leave a bit of a legacy… it's nice to know that you left it better than you found it and that maybe somebody will be like, hold on remember that student?”

“Knowledge affirmation? Definitely.”

“…there's no pressure on us to be perfect, because there's no one watching us.”

Further information

Which courses are running PAL in September 2022 – January 2023 and when do sessions take place?

In September 2022 PAL is launching in the following courses:

  • BA Fine Art (Canterbury)
  • BA Film Production (Farnham)
  • BA/Bsc Games Arts (Farnham)
  • Courses at Epsom to be announced soon

Sessions are for one hour every other week during term 1 (19th Sep 2022 – 27th January 2023 with a break for Christmas)

How do I find out more about being a PAL Leader?

If you’re interested in becoming a PAL Leader or would like to find out a little more, we’d really like to hear from you!

Whether you have been looking for ways to develop your leadership/mentoring skills or maybe you’ve never considered it before… through your own experience of being a student on your course, you have so much relevant experience and lots to offer. Being a PAL Leader isn’t about knowing everything or re-teaching, it’s about hosting and facilitating effectively to support students as they work through challenges and questions, and settle into their life and studies at UCA. 

As well as developing your own confidence, this is a great opportunity to enhance your employability and develop transferable skills for your CV that you can showcase when applying for roles you are working towards. You will receive full training and support throughout your time as a PAL Leader including:

  • Comprehensive group training – both on zoom and in person
  • Regular catch ups with the PAL Coordinator (Jo Richmond)
  • Supportive in session drop ins
  • Networking meet ups with other PAL Leaders at UCA
  • Resources including session structures and ideas for content

To find out more about being a PAL Leader, email or complete this online form – it takes less than 5 minutes to complete.