Welcome to June’s issue of Teaching Matters: Student Transitions

Welcome Week 2018. Photo by Ludo Farine, copyright University of Edinburgh.

In this introductory post for June’s issue on Student Transitions, Nichola Kett, Head of Quality Assurance and Enhancement Team in Academic Services, describes the various initiatives the University of Edinburgh has been undertaking to help students transition into the university experience. This month’s issue will feature posts from members of the university who lead different projects aimed at supporting students in their university journey. We will also hear directly from students… 

From 2014-2017, the Enhancement Theme (which is where the Scottish higher education sector works together on a chosen topic to enhance the student learning experience) explored student transitions into, through and out of university.  As part of the theme, institutions identified their own activities to work on, institutions worked collaboratively on activities, and there was also sector-wide activity.

What did the University do?

The activities that we worked on as part of the Student Transitions Theme include:

Student transitions – staff leaflet

Students experience transitions as they move into, through and out of university and there are things that staff can do to help make these transitions easier. An analysis, carried out by a PhD Intern, of all case studies and resources gathered during the Enhancement Theme was used to create a leaflet for staff identifying why student transitions are important and what makes a student transition easier.  The leaflet is available on the Institute for Academic Development’s website.

Adapting well – student website

A website was developed that contains information and resources to help students adapt well and get the best from their university experience. The website includes resources on:

  • Culture shock – videos featuring international students reflecting on their experiences
  • Making the best of your student experience
  • Resilience
  • Coping with change

Student Transitions Map

A “snapshot in time” interactive map of the wide variety of student transitions-related good practice that took place across the university was produced with the aim of facilitating the sharing this practice. The university’s student transitions map is available on the Academic Services’ website.

A presentation from August 2018 outlining key resources produced by the university through the Student Transitions theme is available on Prezi.

National transitions map

The Quality Assurance Agency Scotland (QAAS), who support the work of the Enhancement Theme, created the national transitions map which contains over 460 resources gathered throughout the Student Transitions theme relating to the way students enter, move through and leave university. The transitions are sorted by type and visually presented in groups. The national map remains a live resource and examples can be added.

What is happening now?

Student transitions remains an important topic, and perhaps especially so during this time of change where students are experiencing new and changing methods of learning, teaching and assessment.  The wealth of resources produced during the theme remain available to help staff support students through their transitions. Additionally, QAAS have recently posted a blog on ‘Supporting students to develop transition skills during times of uncertainty’. For more information on the student transitions Enhancement Themes, visit the website.


  • Lesley Ross, Student Induction Manager, who will reflect on the meaning of induction for new students…
  • Lesley Kelly, Academic Developer at the Institute for Academic Development, will talk about supporting the academic development of undergraduate students as they start university.
  • Inga Ackermann, Global Community Coordinator, will explain how the Culture shock videos serve as a useful resources for informing students before they arrive to Edinburgh.
  • Chris Mowat Senior Personal Tutor and Lecturer at the School of Chemistry will share his thoughts on how to best support incoming students as we prepare for blended learning and teaching in the next semester…
  • We will also hear from several students, and more!

Previous related Teaching Matters posts:

Happy reading!

Nichola Kett

Nichola Kett is Head of Quality Assurance and Enhancement Team in Academic Services, where she oversees the implementation and management of the quality framework and manages the quality assurance and enhancement team. Nichola also engages with and contributes to key University learning and teaching activities.

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