Transition to higher education; prospective and retrospective student experiences

Ian Piper, Alison Faith Kelly, Hilda Mary Mulrooney


Pre-university (foundation or Level 3) study attracts significant student numbers annually, but approximately 10% of successful Level 3 students do not progress into their university degrees. This project aimed to identify the experiences of current and previous Level 3 students, using questionnaires and focus groups to explore differences by gender, ethnicity and intention to study. One hundred and two current and 56 previous level 3 students participated. Those who felt part of the university were significantly more likely to agree that the foundation course met their expectations. Personal support from academic staff, was highly ranked by students in all year groups, peaking in the final year. Despite considerable student diversity, the foundation year met expectations. However this was significantly lower for Black students compared with other ethnicities, which needs further exploration. Fostering ‘belonging’ to university is important for foundation year students to improve retention rates into their degree courses.


transition; induction; belonging; retention; support

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