Proceedings of The 3rd International Conference on Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
UMBRELLA: A Project to Support Undergraduate Students’ Timely Degree Completion
Vasilis Grammatikopoulos, Maria Tsitiridou, Evgenia Papaioannou, Giorgos Mpamnios, Kostas Goulianas and Athanasios Gregoriadis
International Hellenic University, Greece
A research team consisted of academics from various departments of the International Hellenic University (IHU) (Greece) designed a project to support the timely completion of undergraduate students’ degrees. This was initiated by the recognition of numerous challenges the students were facing due to the economic crisis. Many students at the IHU were forced to delay their degree as they had to prioritize work over studies. UMBRELLA is a social support programme, especially for such students in order to empower them to complete their studies (partially funded by EU (Operational Programme – Human Resources Development, Education & Lifelong Learning). The main goal of the programme was to alleviate any possible challenges that students were facing such as inability to attend the courses, or to sit the exams. The programme offered support at three distinct levels: emotional, academic, and practical. This paper presents the views of the 12 students / beneficiaries of the programme who agreed to participate in a semi-structure interview. The topics covered were their reasons for joining the programme; their overall impression of the programme UMBRELLA, their evaluation of the collaboration and communication with I-Mentors and professors; and their suggestions to improve UMBRELLA. The majority of participants participated because they had need of emotional- psychological support and were experiencing financial problems. They suggested that beneficiaries must participate in UMBRELLA from the beginning of their studies; the programme needs to be advertised in all departments and professors could all become i-Mentors.
keywords: Higher-education, emotional support, at-risk students.