Supporting student induction and transitions
This resource looks at how to support students’ transition into the University and through their programme. It covers academic, social and personal transitions.
Why focus on induction and transitions?
- Arriving at university can involve many types of transition, such as adapting to a new learning culture, meeting new people, living in a different place, and changing your sense of identity. Students’ expectations of University study can be quite different from the reality.
- Students have to learn a huge amount in the early weeks, and some can find the process overwhelming, so they need support at this critical time. The first year of undergraduate study, or the early weeks of a PGT programme, can be critical to students’ development and academic success.
- The University is not a neutral space and some students will find it easier to adapt to university life than others. Supporting students’ transition to university is critical for widening participation and developing an inclusive environment in which all students are supported to succeed. Research has shown that a sense of belonging is crucial for student retention and success - carefully designed transition support can help to nurture a sense of belonging.
- Students don’t just experience transition on arrival at university but throughout their studies, so it’s important to be mindful of transitions throughout a programme.
How to use this guide
This guide is concerned with how academic departments can support students’ transition into and through the University. It focuses on supporting transitions in three areas: academic life, social relations, and personal life. All of these are important for student retention and success. Of course, in reality, there is overlap between these areas.
The guide also includes a ‘transitions timeline’ with suggestions of actions to take at different stages.
Students will experience transitions in different ways and on different timescales, but there are some particular points in time where you may want to focus on transitions support.
|On arrival (the first week)||
For many students this will be orientation week (September/February) and/or intro week (September). However, make sure that induction materials and support are available for students who arrive at different times of year, or who transition in partway through a programme.
|The early months||
You should view induction to the programme and the University as an ongoing process, taking several months (or, for undergraduate students, potentially the entire first year).
|Transitions support later in the programme||
The structure of every programme is different but you may be able to identify points where students tend to struggle, for example:
Think about how you can shape your curriculum to support students through any difficult moments. To bridge different phases of a programme, it may be helpful to get students to reflect on what they have learned and what knowledge and skills they can take forward to the next part of the programme.
The Careers Service provides a guide to the student journey and how to support students at each stage of their course. The Careers Service can support you with integrating employability and skills development into your curriculum.
Careers also provide extensive resources to help students prepare for and manage the transition to life after their University programme:
Links and Downloads
See also Elevate’s Who are your learners? guidance