GHWY partner University of Huddersfield has been involved in an award-winning project to support the transition and retention of new students. The OfS-funded Catalyst-Funded collaboration between the Universities of Huddersfield, Lincoln, Coventry and Manchester Metropolitan ‘Intervention for Success’ scooped both the Guardian HE Award for Curriculum and Course Design 2018, and the Social Justice Prize at the 2018 SCUTREA conference.
Grappling with the national challenges of retention, differential degree classifications and employment outcomes for UK students from socially diverse backgrounds – as well as the dissatisfaction UK students report with teaching, curriculum and support in HEIs (NUS 2011) – the project developed and delivered an intense, subject-specific and participative programme from 9am – 5pm, over five days.
Activities included guest speakers, visits to local art galleries, study sessions supervised by Graduate Teaching Assistants, student-led exhibitions and presentations, a nutrition bake-off event, fake news activities, video diaries, film clubs, campus orienteering and lots more. Students particularly relished meeting successful alumni, expanding their understanding of the opportunities available to them on graduation. Raising both aspiration and motivation to study, this helped students to begin to plan their own career development from the outset.
Participation in the programme meant that students knew who to go to for help, were encouraged to access this and came to realise that they are not alone in facing the significant challenges ahead. It allowed earlier identification of risk factors such as attendance, commitment and study skills.
The results: Flying Start students, particularly males, scored significantly higher than others for relationship formation, confidence and a sense of belonging. The project has now upscaled significantly, from 8 courses participating in 2017 to 36 courses participating in 2018.
Tutors also noted a dramatic difference in students’ levels of confidence compared with previous years, and that students were much more likely than previous cohorts to ask for help, to contribute in group sessions and to engage in critically reflective activities.
The University of Huddersfield are currently developing a guide to implementation and planning a webinar hosted by Advance HE for anyone interested in finding out more and welcome questions from interested parties.