Transition into first year undergraduate study

Students arrive at University with a wide range of educational backgrounds, very different life experiences and varying levels of preparation for their undergraduate studies.

Whilst the majority of first year students are likely to have recently completed A level studies, there will also be those who are re-entering education as part of their own personal development, or perhaps as part of re-training for future employment. This diversity in the student intake will influence the nature and extent of students’ engagement with higher education and can also contribute to a mismatch between students’ expectations and the reality of their university experience.

The Higher Education Academy’s What Works? Retention and Success model (Andrews, Clark & Thomas, 2012) puts student engagement and a sense of belonging at the heart of successful induction to university life; there is also a crucial link between these key factors and subsequent improvements in student retention and success.

This focus on successful induction embodies the promotion of early and continued engagement across the student lifecycle, nurturing positive student experiences through the academic, social and professional services, as well as helping to develop students’ knowledge, confidence and individual identity as successful learners. Such a focus also develops the capacity of both students and university staff to engage in a true partnership approach, with supportive peer relationships and meaningful interactions between teaching staff and their students.

The transition into first year undergraduate study good practice guide provides student perspectives and highlights good practice to aid schools in evaluation and refresh of their current transitional support programme.