The Wellbeing Experience of Foundation Year Students Transitioning to the Foundation Year in a Higher Education Institution

  • Gerald Dampier University of Surrey
  • Emily Shepperd University of Surrey
  • Sam Hopkins University of Surrey
  • Thomas Varnes University of Surrey
  • Sophie Kellaher University of Surrey
  • Sara Pervez University of Surrey


Whilst transitions through education are well researched, this paper focuses on the transition to university for foundation year students with attention on student wellbeing. For this a set of semi-structured interviews were performed and analysed using thematic content analysis. The data highlights some of the negative emotions and feelings experienced by these students and how these negatives dissipate throughout the time in the foundation year. These negatives are replaced with positive emotions and feelings as the foundation year progresses, especially in terms of confidence and belonging. This research was a student-staff partnership and as such provides authentic access to student voices discussing their own experience during this transition into higher education. From the research, short podcasts were created that are now shared with incoming students and are useful for both new students and for staff.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Gerald Dampier, University of Surrey is a Senior Lecturer in Learning Development attached to the Foundation Programme in Business, Economics and Management at the University of Surrey, where he has worked since 2018. Previous experience includes 14 years in English for Academic Purposes, Learning Development and academic management roles at Royal Holloway, University of London; he has also taught English as a Foreign Language in the UK, Greece and Japan.

Emily Shepperd, University of Surrey is a final year Undergraduate Biosciences student and former Foundation year student. She has recently finished her placement as a Research Assistant Intern at the Centre for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Surrey.

Sam Hopkins, University of Surrey is the Programme co-lead and Senior Lecturer in learning development on the biosciences foundation year programme. Before this they worked in the doctoral college at the University of Surrey. Sam studied BSc Zoology in the UK and then completed their MSc and PhD in South Africa. Following completion of their doctorate, they held the position of lecturer at the University of the Western Cape. Sam then continued their postdoctoral research career in biological sciences at the University of Surrey and spent a short time at the Zoological Society of London creating a course for fellows on the EDGE Programme. More recently Sam has taken an MA in Education and been awarded their Senior Fellowship of the HEA.  

Thomas Varnes, University of Surrey

is a graduate in BSc Economics and Finance and former Foundation year student. He has recently finished his undergraduate studies and is returning to his former placement employers to obtain the ICAEW Chartered Accountant qualification.

Sophie Kellaher, University of Surrey

is a graduate in BSc Business Management and Marketing and former Foundation year student.

Sara Pervez, University of Surrey

following the completion of her studies in Electronic Engineering, Sara now works as a Cyber Security Engineer in the civil service.