Belonging can develop in every interaction that takes place. We encourage this through:
- Induction sessions
- Supportive and meaningful contact between staff and students
- Peer mentoring
- Initiatives to develop students’ confidence in their capabilities.
Collaboration with students is central to this work – they have helped us identify the areas to focus on and develop the initiatives, by sharing their experience at groups and networks and via internships.
A cross-university group of staff is dedicated to understanding the factors that can affect students’ needs around belonging, such as different backgrounds or circumstances. For example, they may have experienced physical barriers that affect their access to facilities or activities, cultural barriers or a lack of meaningful communication.
The group gathers insight on students’ experiences and perspectives and uses this to shape support for staff to help students feel welcome. Their work includes carrying out student and staff-led research, sharing best practice and developing and evaluating staff resources and training.
Teaching and learning
All our students are given a personal tutor who can offer support if there are personal circumstances that are affecting their assessments.
We know from our research that staff and student interactions are really important to student sense of belonging. As part of our work to develop staff skills and confidence in this area, we recognise that, in order to support students, staff also need to feel a sense of belonging and being valued at the University and we have started a programme to focus on this.
Activities outside of studying, such as social activities, volunteering, sports and even using campus facilities, help students to feel part of the university and the city they live in.
We work with staff across the University to help them make sure these are inclusive for students with different needs or circumstances, such as family or travel commitments, or different cultural or faith backgrounds.
For example, we work closely with Leeds University Union to offer our students fun socials that aren’t held too late at night and include alcohol-free events. We also developed sessions that bring students together to form connections via arts, craft and making, culture and heritage.
Student and staff stories
Read about Susan Preston who set up the Commuters’ Society for students who live at home and commute to campus.
Read a blog on top tips for students who commute written by the Commuter’s Society.
I had feelings of imposter syndrome – that I didn’t belong. I thought that I was the only person who felt this way. My personal tutor directed me to the Lifelong Learning Centre and there I found lots of mature, non-traditional students like me. It was very comforting to know that I wasn’t the only one.