Transition to university

The transition to university life can be challenging. 

We are mindful that students arrive at university with different backgrounds, experiences and skills, and it can take time to settle in. We have several transition programmes to help make sure all students are equipped to have the best possible university experience.

Widening participation

We support students even before they apply to university and start their course. Our Education Outreach Team run workshops, talks and online courses that help prepare those at school and college for university, including developing their study skills.

The Plus Programme

The Plus Programme supports students from backgrounds that are under-represented at university with their move to university life.

Welcome, Induction and Transition (WIT)

WIT provides information and resources to help staff plan their welcome, transition and induction activities.

Developed in 2021, with involvement from our students at every stage, from planning and development to creation of resources such as writing content and producing videos, it includes:

  • Best practice guidance for staff on organising welcome and induction events for new students.
  • Leeds & You resources – easy to use checklists of important tasks, contacts and things to think about at different points of the student journey for new and returning students. 
  • The Here & Now hub – a dedicated online space for all students that focuses on life at Leeds, including campus and city activities, skills like cooking and managing money and supporting health and wellbeing. It offers advice and events.
  • School-specific induction webpages to help students settle into the start of term easily.
  • The Summer in Leeds programme – free activities and events on and around campus for taught students, postgraduate researchers and their families. They include classes at The Edge sport and fitness centre, local walks, campus and city tours, film screenings and gallery tours. We are extending the activities into the autumn term.

International welcome

We support new and returning students who are coming to Leeds from abroad with their preparation for university, including arriving support and orientation activities to help them settle in. We have also been offering extra support in response to COVID-19, for example in quarantine hotels and through additional peer support from student hosts.

Welcome Buddy scheme

This scheme offers friendship and peer support to help our students and postgraduate researchers feel that they are part of the University community.

The scheme is offered one-to-one or in small groups hosted by current students and offers a welcoming space for people to make friends and settle into student life.

Watch our YouTube video about the Welcome Buddy scheme:

Video transcript: Make new friends with the University’s Welcome Buddy Scheme

Supporting BTEC students

We are committed to making sure that Leeds is an inclusive university that attracts, develops and retains the best students from diverse backgrounds and supports them to succeed. This includes welcoming students with different qualifications, not just A-levels. 

Each year we welcome around 500 students with a BTEC qualification onto our undergraduate courses.  

BTEC students usually come from backgrounds that are under-represented at university and they are often the first in their family to go to university. We know from our data that they are also at a higher risk of withdrawing from their studies.  

To address this, we are finding ways to help our BTEC students prepare for academic assessments by providing additional support modules on courses where needed. We are also making our methods of assessment for prospective and current students, including our admissions process, more inclusive.   

BTEC students may have different skills and strengths to A-Level students, such as practical and presentation skills. We are working to raise recognition of this across the University, to help BTEC students feel better valued and understood. 

Many of our BTEC students benefit from mentoring schemes we offer at Leeds, for example being mentored by either a member of staff or students who also studied BTEC qualifications.  
We also run a focus group with BTEC students where they can share their experiences. Their feedback is shared with staff across the University, for example, through staff forums. 

We have developed a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in collaboration with students at Leeds who have a BTEC qualification. The FutureLearn Skills to Succeed at University MOOC is new for the 2021/22 academic year. It will provide academic skills and support as well as a chance for students to share their journeys into and experiences of higher education. The content of the course has been shaped by the experiences of current students at Leeds.  

Student stories

Read case studies about Calista McReady and George Sykes who studied BTEC qualifications before coming to Leeds.

When I was transitioning to university, what helped me was getting to know others on my course, or even just in the same year. Joining societies was crucial to my social life and getting to know others who had the same interests as me made sure I wasn’t isolated.

Student feedback

Mature students

The Lifelong Learning Centre (LLC) provides specialist support to mature students, recognising that they are often juggling many commitments along with study. The LLC offers support during the admissions process and throughout the students’ time at university, including:

  • Welcome information
  • Financial advice
  • Study skills support
  • Events and workshops.