Evaluating the Transition Experience of Former Foundation Year Students to Postgraduate Studies

  • Helga Bartels-Hardege University of Hull
Keywords: foundation year, mature students, postgraduate transition, imposter syndrome


Usually literature on transition in Higher Education focusses on transition from school or college to undergraduate programmes, whilst the transition to postgraduate study is mostly overlooked. This pilot project concentrates on the experience of students who came through the Hull University Science Foundation Year and have been transitioning to postgraduate studies, mostly to research Masters and subsequent PhD scholarships. In small scale focus groups we aimed to explore whether the participants felt that the Foundation Year experience makes a difference to them in preparedness for postgraduate life and study. The results suggest that, whilst the Foundation Year meant an advantage for transition into the main undergraduate degree, there is no direct advantage for their postgraduate studies. However, the students highlighted that, indirectly, the Foundation Year enabled them to do well in their undergraduate studies and subsequently enabled them to follow the postgraduate route. The focus groups also highlighted a general lack of confidence in their own academic ability, which is still traceable in their transition to postgraduate studies. The results show that there is a clear need for further research on this lack of confidence, especially looking at the support for post-graduate transition available in Higher Education institutions.


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Author Biography

Helga Bartels-Hardege, University of Hull

Helga is a marine biologist working at Hull University, who is mainly concentrating on workplace and problem based learning and who creates authentic science projects in schools and public engagement events. Her main research area is the impact of ocean acidification on the chemical communication of marine invertebrates. She has been involved in a leading role with the Hull University Science Foundation Year for ten years and as part of that role has developed an interest in the support of widening participation students.