The Trials and Tribulations of Transition into Foundation Year Study

  • Emma Chivers University of South Wales
Keywords: Foundation year; transition; retention; progression; student voice


This paper provides a reflective review of activities undertaken to gain an increased understanding of factors influencing successful student transition to a specific integrated foundation year at a UK university. It critically analyses the foundation year students’ transitionary journey during the 2017/18 academic year and highlights the issues and concerns identified, particularly in response to the student voice. The paper provides an open and honest overview of an institution specific study of systems and processes and their potential contribution to student attrition. It details the challenges faced as the foundation year course team worked collaboratively to plan and manage an improved transition process for the 2018/19 academic year. Interventions outlined here include reviewing and developing admissions processes based upon the student experience, and beginning the process of transition into Higher Education as soon as practically possible through organising activities to promote familiarisation with the campus and the course and building early relationships with the course team prior to enrolment. The importance of an extended induction that balances academic and social integration is also discussed in relation to pre-induction activities that support anticipatory socialisation. The paper emphasises the importance of tailored course and institution specific analysis of transition, focusing on student voice, and recognising the impact of transition on retention and progression.


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Author Biography

Emma Chivers, University of South Wales

Emma is the Academic Manager of Social Policy, Youth and Community Work and Foundation Years, and a Senior Lecturer in Youth and Community Work at the University of South Wales (USW). She has over ten years’ experience of teaching within Higher Education and is an External Examiner for Youth and Community Work courses at Plymouth Marjon University, and previously for the University of Plymouth, and for the FdA Children & Young People’s Workforce (Truro & Penwith College, 2014-2018). She is Chair of Youth Cymru, a National Youth Work Charity with an 81 year history of working with young people and youth workers, working with the Chief Executives and trustees to deliver the strategic and operational plan; meeting the needs of the Welsh Government, Funders and Young People. Emma is also a professionally qualified Youth and Community Worker with over 25 years’ experience within the voluntary and maintained sector. Emma is committed to informing policy developments and influencing change. Emma has been an external advisor for University of East London and participated in European and International work looking at Multi-disciplinary perspectives on working with young people in Europe, and coordinating international student visits to Moving Mountains Trust Kenya, and visited community groups in Sudan on behalf of the British Council and Women Making a Difference. Emma is currently undertaking her Professional Doctorate in Social and Public Policy at Cardiff University focusing upon the retention and progression of Foundation Year Students.