LSHTM's Pentacell Project shortlisted for award

The words 'Shortlisted HEIST Awards' beside the HEIST logo

LSHTM's Pentacell Project has been shortlisted for the 2022 "Best Engagement Initiative" at the higher education HEIST awards.

Pentacell is an innovative project where alumni volunteers support current students. 

Supporting student wellbeing and increasing belonging and community was a priority at LSHTM when COVID-19 hit. COVID-19 exacerbated student anxiety and stress. 

LSHTM staff and alumni developed a pilot intervention whereby incoming students were placed in five-person informal support groups called 'Pentacells'. Each Pentacell had an alumni facilitator to support and steer discussions. 

The project aimed to: 

  • Increase student wellbeing.
  • Improve institutional engagement, satisfaction, and retention.
  • Foster a sense of belonging.
  • Develop teaching and learning skills.
  • Be adaptable so other institutions can replicate it.

LSHTM's Pentacell project significantly improved participants' student experience during the pandemic. The project delivered over 1,000 volunteer hours. Over 100 alumni volunteers supported more than 500 students across 11 academic programmes.

Around half the students were from outside the UK, and 30% came from low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs). Alumni facilitators came from 45 countries, with 35% from LMICs.

Our volunteers' life experience and diversity helped students settle in more quickly and build strong bonds between students around the world. Students from the LMICs and non-traditional backgrounds particularly stressed the benefits of Pentacell in helping them navigate the unfamiliar virtual environment. The friendships created added to student resilience and improved wellbeing.

Recruitment will shortly be launching for this year's Pentacell Facilitators. Further information is available on our Mentoring and supporting students page.