My name is Shell Morgan and I describe myself as a SE practitioner.
First can I askWho works in administration?Who would classify themselves as an academic? A manager? Who works in a faculty, school or departmentWho would state that they work in a central university unit? Who would call themselves a practitioner in improving the SE and I mean anyone who changes practices no matter how big or small in helping to improve systems and processes?I do not intend speaking at you for 45 minutes in this keynote but want it to be interactive.So as a warm up to get you talking, I would like to do a quick exercise. How many of you have attended a residential conference?What do you want from a conference to get the most out of it?What would stop you from going back to the conference the year after?This is the SE for students.As you can see, you have put learning at the heart of your conference experience and it is the same for students. It is very common for the first week at Uni to evolve around admin duties but research tells us this is not want students want. I will touch upon this later
How is the student different today?You will not hear me call a student a customer. They are consumers of education and there is a difference.Just paying for their education does not give them a right to a good degree.They must take responsibility and engage in that activity. A common analogy used to describe the relationship between the student and an institution is the gym analogy. Just because you pay for gym membership doesnt mean you are going to get fit. Thinking or looking at the treadmill will not help. You need to work at it!These changes have affected us greatly.
We have increased student numbers and declining resources.The sector in England especially feels exhausted with the constant changes.
Academic qualifications- A levels not only entry qual. Further, the traditional pre entry university qualifications have changed in terms of teaching style and assessment whether they be A levels in the UK, SATs and ACTs in the USA or UAI, ENTER and TER qualifications in Australia. Rote learning is a common teaching and learning style, coursework has increased as a means of assessment and there is a different approach to analytical and critical thinking skills. This means that students entering via a traditional entry route are entering university with a skill base that could be different from that required by a university. The challenge for institutions is to bridge the gap so the student doesn’t fail in making the transition from school or college to higher education.In the UK, in 1989-90, 77% of all home domiciled students on entry to full time and sandwich first degree courses held A levels. By 1993/94 it was only 62% Domiciled status- increase in OS students In PG area, OS have been keeping PG numbers up as UK numbers decrease. Social class- does make a difference to attitude of student-Uni SW of England 1994- engaging the student voice- one site campusWhat changes have you noticed?
I sent out an exercise earlier and ask you to quickly look at it and provide and identity/s for each student.DO exerciseWhen we look at our student body, we categorise whether through work our through our own discrimations. That is reality.Is their someone from finance here?....... You are likely to look at students in terms of money- UK, EU or OS domiciled.Someone from Disability Unit may look at them in terms of their disability.Students are not aliens but have complex identities like us.Who here is a parent who commutes into work? Of you, how many are PT?
Students have multi identities and this needs to be taken into consideration when developing any initiative or activity in HE
So we need to consider...............
Today is about getting you to think about the first weeks before and after arrival.What is essential is that you think about where those few weeks sit in the student journey.For the next 5 minutes in your tables, I would like you to think about where the first few weeks sit in the student journey.Up here is the HEFCE model of transition from raising aspirations to uni and beyond from 2002.Think about the different stages a student goes through from first contact and admission with a HE institution.
Write up results.
We need to think about all the stages.This is how I describe it.You could call the stages something different as long as you identify them and support them.For the keynote, I will use my stages for ease.
Write up results.
How do you convey this information? What type of things do you do?Write on flip chart
How do you convey this information? What type of things do you do?Write on flip chart
Major .The research project at Sussex and within a year changed whole process with buy in from all staff at all levels across different units.The reaserch was critical because it underpinned the change and provided evidence for change which academic colleagues especially understood. They may not have liked it but they got it.The research told us 3 key things. In the first week at Uni, students wanted their T/T and course info, wanted to meet their tutors and to make friends.In your packs, you have been given a case study outlining the 8 Strand approach adopted and why.Overnight, academic colleagues saw a difference in the behaviour of students in the first week of teaching. They were chatting and engaged with one another than sitting down quietly and they new what to expect in that week. After that, academics even suggested that the Personal Tutor sessions which I had scheduled on the Friday of the orientation week (used to be in week 1 or 2), should actually be even earlier in the orientation week.
So in your groups this afternoon, think about activities and how you can build them into course and module information or extra curricula activities.Eg- put on extra study skills sessions. Learning to study is a skill and we can longer assume students know how to do that as we recruit from such a diverse background.Over a 4 year UG qualification, it is easier to build activities in.
Coin termed by Geoff Layer and his colleagues at Bradford
I argue that the key to a quality SE is:1) The key to success is linking up these stages and ensuring that we seamlessly support the transition of the student in, through and out of each stage2) Key service providers need to talk to one another and coordinate and join up their activities. – give validation of a programme as an example.For example, when a new course is being validated, the validation process shouldn’t just concentrate on the academic content. It should consider a range of things. If a new course aims to deliver a part-time course to students of an evening, the type of questions that should be considered as part of the validation process include;Will the library have the resources to support the course whether it be in terms of books or opening hours? Will the students have access to a canteen for food and drink during lesson breaks?What welfare support should this cohort of students be entitled to and how will they access it if they only come in of an evening? If the university is situated in place where there is little car parking and limited public transport, how will students get to and from the institution of an evening? 3) How do we join up the dots of the academic and personal journey of the student with an effective and efficient service provision?THAT IS OUR CHALLENGEI believe that if we think about our student body and what we need to deliver, we can do it more effectivelyFirstly, the home unit tends to have the most contact with the students throughout the lifecycle whether it be academic or personal so are better placed to identify the needs of the student. They act as providers of support as well as gatekeepers referring students on to other key services when necessary. Further, most home units have a range of staff that support students and indentify where extra help is needed. These might be either an academic, who is a personal tutor, or a dedicated student support officer, or a course administrator who provide certain levels of information, support and advice. The home unit should be the first port of call for students needing assistance. Secondly, it is critical for there to be ownership of the student lifecycle. The logical place for this is the home unit, whether that responsibility is managed by a team or individual. This provides a better opportunity for the success of the initiatives because there is less bureaucracy and confusion about who should take responsibility. It is critical that the home unit is involved in all stages and where possible manages them all. For example, in some institutions, the admissions process is run and operated centrally rather than by the home unit. If this happens, the central admissions process must involve the home unit so applicants start their relationship with their home unit from first contact.
Development and Skills Conference 2013: Michelle Morgan - supporting student transitions
AUA 23 October 2013 Development and Skills Conference
Identify the different transitions in the
Discuss how the different student transitions
can impact on retention rates and student
Look at how to plan and develop activities
around a diverse student population
Introduction of fees
Introduction of loans
Changes in the job market
Pressure to attend university to improve job prospects
Requirement to work to supplement income whilst at University
Post degree debt and associated problems
• Change in approach and style of 16-18 Qualifications
SATs and ACTS – USA
UAI, ENTER, TER- Australia
Increase in student numbers especially in the past 10 years
Globally increase translates into 4.6% increase in participation
in HE annually
Increase in overseas competition
1970 1 in 2 studied in North America and Western
Today it is 1 in 4
Students with disabilities
Mode of study
UG domiciled status (82% of student body)
◦ UK domiciled
◦ EU domiciled
“Seeking the bubble of reputation”
PG domiciled status (18% of student body: research and PGT)
◦ UK domiciled
◦ EU domiciled
Age on entry 18-21
Female participation in all levels
Male participation in all levels
Source: HEFFA (Higher Education Fudged Facts Association)
UG UK domiciled, English
Second Language, Direct
UG Mature, Disability
(dyslexia), single parent
Mature, Veteran, Commuter,
Carer of Elderly Parents
UG Young Learner, Care
Leaver Disability (Mental
Student today is multifaceted which are not always obvious
All new students whether UG or PG need to go through the same
A student‟s reason for going to university and prior learning
experiences (personal/formal) is likely to have a big impact on
their expectation and experience
Reasons for going to university are changing
Not sure what I want to do
A degree will get me a better job. I am not interested in the journey
I need a degree as a bare minimum
No longer for the love of studying and self development
„ we have students from different
ethnic groups and non-English
international, lower socioeconomic backgrounds, mature
aged students, students with
disabilities, as well those for whom
higher education is the first family
(Crosling et al, 2009)
Identify what you
think are the important
transition periods in a
student‟s journey at
Source: HECFE 2002
Source: M Morgan (2011)
Improving the Student
Experience- the practical
guide for universities and
Discuss in your
groups what you
think the key
issues are for your
Managing expectations and aspirations
Why go to university?
How and why will university study be different to
previous types of study?
What is expected of a university student?
How will students be treated at university?
What happens in each academic level of study?
What support advice and help is available both
academically and personally throughout the lifecycle?
Is university suitable for everyone?
What will the university experience give students?
What are the options for a student after university?
Reinforcement of first contact and admissions
academic and personal advice
guidance and support
Identifying and providing support to students with
Combined unit information sent out (* Sussex example)
Do I need to undertake any pre-entry academic work or reading?
What do I do when I arrive at university?
How do I register?
How do I pay my fees and accommodation costs?
What do I need to do in the first few weeks at university?
What will be expected of me academically in the first few weeks?
What support services do I have access to?
What extra curricula activities can I engage in?
What if I don‟t settle in and I want to leave?
Expectations set during the first contact, admissions and
pre-arrival stages need to be delivered
Focus on academic and not administrative activities
Opportunity to make friends
Settle into their university life and studies as soon as
Appropriate information and support
See handout –8 Strand Approach to Arrival and Orientation
Settling into studies
Coping with the demands of academia
Managing pressures of life
Minimum of 1 semester
Maximum of 1 academic year
Takes place at start of new academic year
Reminder of academic and personal support
Reorientation session for all returners
Identify extra support students need
Introduction to academic requirements
Refresher on support available
Academic and non-academic support
Remind students of support available and help
identify and correct academic weaknesses
ongoing study skill development
access to employability advice and support whether via
the curriculum or extra curricula;
opportunities to engage in personal development
involvement in community and citizenship activities.
Revision sessions, past exam papers
Work returned more quickly
Life support skills
Presentation and report writing skills
CV writing, job interview help
“Getting students through the
student lifecycle involves more
than simply getting them to
complete their course. It should
support students in the
transition from the world of
study into the world of life”.
„OUTduction‟ starts during
INduction when students are
introduced to the key skills
and knowledge they will build
upon and utilise during and
Source: M Morgan, 2008
What to do with the degree?
Career route options
How to get a job?
How to complete application form
How can skills learnt at university be
transferred to life post study?
What are the different study, travel and work
options available after graduation?
How could they impact on a student‟s career
and life in general?
Supporting students in, through and out of each
Key service providers need to talk to one another
and coordinate and join up their activities
Effectively combining aspects one and two
Academic imperative must be heart of all activity
Must be owned by the Student‟s home unit
(faculty, school, department).
For every initiative developed within a stage or theme, the following
questions need to be addressed.
•What is the aim and objective of the initiative?
•Who needs to be involved in the development of the initiative?
•Who is the target group?
•What do they need to know?
•What information is going to be delivered?
•Who will deliver it?
•When is it going to be delivered?
•Is the timing appropriate?
•How will it be delivered?
•What is the cost of the initiative?
•What is the timeline for the initiative?
•Is it financially viable?
•Can the initiative and information be adapted for another group of students?
•How will it be evaluated and monitored? .
Stage = Arrival and Orientation Activity within the theme = First week‟s orientation programme
• Start the process of learning by giving out and explaining
timetables (if not available before)
• Explain course documents and
Home unit academics and nonacademic staff, Central Units such as
Academic Registry, LRC, IT, external
examiners, student representation
• Start the process of teaching students how to study at
university such as having a fun lecture in a large LT
• Get students to start working in groups on fun activities
(e.g. Fun subject quiz or rocket building competitions)
• Light touch study skills (LRC?)
Home unit academics and nonacademic staff, university L&T
academic centres, staff
development, LRC, IT, student
• Costs related to study (e.g. accommodation, uni fees,
• Money management of advice for students
Home unit academics and nonacademic staff, university financial
services, student representation
• Light touch reinforcement of support available students (e.g.
disability, dyslexia, financial guidance
Home unit academics and nonacademic staff,
opportunity units, financial services,
• Job fair
• Reminder of purpose of education and how to transfer learning
skills into the workplace in PT work, placements or post study
Home unit academics and nonacademic staff, university careers
and employability/ enterprise units,
Students lives are complex
Student Experience is multi-dimensional
Supporting transitions is applicable to all UG
Do not silo students or unit functions.
Support in terms of stages not specific years
Home unit manages the Lifecycle
Key players to coordinate and collaborate
Map Practitioner Model to length of course
„We need to inspire new generations
to engage in higher education, to
believe in the benefits of HE and to
invest in it. By ensuring that no
student is forgotten or left behind,
through adopting an inclusive
strategy in all its activities,
sustainability should be achievable‟.
Thank you for listening
Author and Editor of www.improvingthestudentexperience.com
Editor and Contributor to Improving the Student Experience-A practical guide for universities
and colleges (Routledge, 2012) and Supporting Student Diversity in Higher Education
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