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Terms of Reference (Project Brief) – “What are we going to do?”
Name of project:
Enhancing the undergraduate first year student experience: supporting student transition into higher education
Author / project manager:
Mark Ames, Head of Student Services
Date last modified:
10 June 2013
Bernie Morley, Pro-vice Chancellor (Learning and Teaching)
Authority Whose job is it to approve this? Vice Chancellor’s Group
Purpose A brief statement of the overall picture. What is project intended to achieve, who will benefit and how. This project is intended to enable all students to: prepare more effectively during the pre-arrival period for their transition into higher education develop a sense of belonging within their department and across the wider University community manage effectively the key transitions they will encounter during their first year. plan and manage their overall student experience to make best use of the opportunities available to them.
These proposals are also intended to enable the University to: maximise the efficient and effective use of existing institutional resources through increased collaboration between Academic Departments, Professional Services and the Students’ Union. develop the use of digital technologies to support this work.
Project brief / terms of reference template
personalising the student experience through contact with academic and other staff. a. developing a sense of belonging. the context within which the objectives will be achieved. Personal Tutor. This will help first year students to anticipate and meet the transitional challenges and opportunities they are likely to face. support for student transition beyond initial induction. and what will have changed as a result? The following objectives have evolved from the original proposals in light of the work and consultation already undertaken by the Project Group. Background Why the project is being set up. extra-curricular and employment related opportunities.actiononaccess. and the staff and students supporting them.pdf Project brief / terms of reference template 2 04/07/2013 . but particularly those from international and non-traditional UK family backgrounds. retention and achievement of all students. information overload when students first arrive.org/wp-content/files_mf/phfhighereducationreportfinalmar122. initiated and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and HEFCE. and a key time for “learning how to cope with the demands of a new environment and personal responsibilities”. However. including the recent report1 of the What Works? Student Retention and Success programme.Change management tool kit – project management templates support the conversion. as well as provide a shared framework for organising the on-line. A large body of international and UK research evidence backs this up. Agree key transitional phases throughout the first year to provide a common frame of reference for first year undergraduate students. The QAA has identified the first year of higher education as “critical” for laying the foundations of academic study. Key areas identified for improvement include: pre-arrival information and interaction to engage and help prepare students both in terms of academic and social induction and preparing for life on campus. Lead: Project Leads 1 http://www. it is clear from student feedback that further improvements are needed in the areas identified above. Peer Mentor and other support provided throughout the first year. Our students enjoy access to a wide range of academic. involving experienced students in supporting the transition of new students. Objectives / outcomes What specifically will the project set out to do.
Lead: Head of Student Services d. academic study. timely and interactive manner. Extend and enhance peer mentoring so all first year undergraduate students have the opportunity to benefit from the experience and support of their more experienced fellow students across a greater proportion of their first year. Lead: SU Deputy Chief Executive (Planning and Membership) e. and enable them to make the most of their academic and broader student experience. extra-curricular activities. and promoted across academic departments by Student Experience Officers. as well as the key transitional phases students will typically encounter during their first year. Lead: Web Content Manager c. employability. This collaborative approach to developing. and help reduce the need for more reactive support provision. as well as to identify other resources available to them. Lead: Director of English Language Centre f. This will enable students to understand and develop at an early stage the discipline specific communication skills required to underpin their academic and professional development. This will enable students to prepare themselves more effectively both pre-arrival and throughout their first year. Personal Tutors. Enhance access to on-line induction-related resources structured through the themes of student life. Enhance student communication for academic and professional purposes through short lecture series delivered by English Language Centre staff within academic departments and tailored to the specific academic discipline. These will be provided by the Professional Services and Students’ Union. The key transitional phase framework. It will also allow other induction activities to focus less on information giving and more on interactive activities that help students develop a sense of belonging and to personalise their experience. Engage students with a programme of induction activities to develop and support them during the key transitional phases of their first year. on-line resources and programme of induction activities will provide important points of reference and resource for Peer Mentors in their work supporting first year student transition. Lead: Director of Marketing and Communications Project brief / terms of reference template 3 04/07/2013 . Directors of Studies and Peer Mentors. delivering and promoting development and support opportunities will help ensure a greater proportion of our students benefit from the resources and opportunities available to support their development and transition. using a range of shared communication platforms. This will help reduce information overload for students and enable them to navigate more effectively the resources available to support their transition and make the most of their student experience.Change management tool kit – project management templates b. Enhance institutional communication to ensure first year students are provided with relevant information from the Professional Services and Students’ Union in a more coordinated.
Future proofing the project to ensure the resources and approaches being developed to enhance support for the transition of new undergraduate students are embedded and can be further developed in light of student and staff feedback. the content and design of the pre-arrival and first year landing pages. Project brief / terms of reference template 4 04/07/2013 . and to review the new pre-arrival landing page. and the coordination of communication using shared platforms. Risks and controls A key risk is the lack of sufficient Project Management capacity for what is a large and complex project. That said. Constraints (Append more details using separate templates where provided) Include consideration of the following key issues: Equality analysis Focus groups have already been used to provide an Equality Analysis in relation to agreeing the key transitional phases framework. The performance measures and other data sets identified will enable us to undertake an Equality Analysis in terms of actual impact. Student focus groups will also be used to review the first year landing page and other navigation pages prior to their launch. It has proven difficult for the Head of Student Services to give sufficient attention to structuring and coordinating this project. Student Experience Officers and Web Services have been driving forward the work relating to agreeing the key transitional phases. and inform further research and subsequent enhancements. Consideration will also need to be given to how this more proactive and coordinated approach to supporting the student experience is extended beyond the first year. and this needs to be resolved in relation to the remainder of the project. the Project Leads.Change management tool kit – project management templates g. Some of these resources may also be of value to our partner Schools and Sixth Forms in the preparation of their students for higher education. Lead: Head of Student Services Scope Who and what are involved in the project? Who and what are not? First year undergraduate students are the focus of this project from the point at which they become Unconditional Firm applicants through to the completion of their first year. There has been some slippage and we are working to increasingly tight deadlines for the beginning of 2013/14. and we are drawing on the views of staff and students in those institutions to inform their development.
Widening Participation. Academic Lead on Placements. Community. advice and referral. Academic Skills. 2. Director of the English Language Centre.Director of Marketing and Communications and Web Content Manager Deliverables What tangible products or achievements will the project deliver 1.Change management tool kit – project management templates Staff training and development implications Directors of Studies. Web Content Editor Communications Steering and Coordination Groups . Project brief / terms of reference template 5 04/07/2013 . Enhanced pre-arrival and first year web pages which focus and enhance access to new and existing induction-related content through the themes of Student Life. so they can help students engage with and make the most of those resources. Student Experience Officers. including the University. which the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) has agreed to lead on 17 September. and Employability Strategies. and the development of a virtual and institutional hub for initial information. as well as highlighting specific content throughout the year relating to the key transitional phases. Roles and responsibilities Who are the key individuals in seeing the project through? Project Manager – Head of Student Services Project Board – Chaired by Project Manager Project Group – Student Services Manager (Health and Well Being). as well as other developments being considered to enhance support for students in University Accommodation. Personal Tutors and Peer Mentors will need regular briefings about the new resources available in relation to each of the key transitional stages. SU Deputy Chief Executive (Planning and Membership). supports and is supported by other developments designed to enhance the student learning and broader experience. Extra-Curricular Activities and Employability. Learning and Teaching. There will also need to be a more general awareness raising among all staff about the launch of these new resources and approaches. Internationalisation. An agreed framework identifying key transitional phases for first year undergraduate students from when they become Unconditional Firm through to the end of their first year. Legal / policy parameters We need to ensure this project effectively links with.
Student Support Forum. and how will the project team communicate progress / problems to sponsors and stakeholders? The Project Board is due to meet three times per year over the duration of the project to maintain oversight of progress and inform the development of the project. Regular updates and opportunities to contribute to resource development have been provided for key staff and student representative stakeholders through the Student Experience Forum. Monitoring and reporting What systems will be in place to monitor progress. The Project Manager is also a member of the steering group. as well as through the University’s internal homepages. 4. Agreed proposals to future proof and extend this area of work beyond the duration of this project. Peer Mentors available for all students across a greater proportion of the first year who use the key transitional phases’ framework. 7. An agreed communications framework and the identification of shared platforms that will provide first year students with a coordinated and appropriate range of communication to support their engagement with the activities and resources available to support their transition into higher education. 6.Change management tool kit – project management templates 3. The Project Manager and Project Group meet on a regular basis to agree and monitor progress with the detailed implementation of the project. Project brief / terms of reference template 6 04/07/2013 . elected Student Officers. A programme of induction activities delivered by the Professional Services and Students’ Union which extend throughout the first year and enable students to engage proactively with induction issues and resources relating to key transitional phases in a timely manner. The Communications Steering and Coordination Groups meet on a regular basis to agree and monitor progress. Induction Week Working Group. Student and Sixth Form Focus Groups. on-line resources and programme of induction activities as key points of reference. such as Academic Council still need updating on the progress with this project. Short lecture series within an increasing number of academic departments that will help enhance the communication skills of first year students for academic and professional purposes. CSSU. The Directors of Studies Forum and other student representative bodies. 5. Senior Tutors Forum.
First year landing pages developed and tested by July 2013. First year landing pages launched in September 2013. Project brief / terms of reference template 7 04/07/2013 . tested and launched by June 2013. 4. evaluated and refined for 2014/15 by June 2014. agreed by August 2013. 2. Pre-arrival landing page reviewed. Students are aware of learning support resources. On-line resources Pre-arrival landing page developed. evaluated and refined for 2014/15 by August 2014. First year landing pages reviewed. Students are aware of the opportunities available to them for extra-curricular activities and development. Programme of induction activities Programme of induction activities for 2013/14 delivered by Professional Services and the Students’ Union. and understand how to make effective use of them 4. tested and agreed by April 2013. Programme of induction activities delivered during 2013/14. Students feel supported to make the transition into HE 3.Change management tool kit – project management templates Success criteria How will we know if the project has been successful? 1. and make use of these opportunities 6. Programme reviewed. Key Milestones What and when will major stages of the project deliver? 1. and engage in these activities 5. Transitional phases’ framework Framework developed. Peer mentoring Peer mentoring made available to all first year undergraduate students October 2013. Peer mentors briefed regularly throughout 2013/14 on issues and resources relating to key transitional phases. The retention of student groups particularly vulnerable to withdrawing from their programme during the first year is increased. evaluated and refined for 2014/15 by March 2014. 3. Students feel supported to develop a sense of belonging to the University community 2. Students are aware of the opportunities available to them to enhance their future employability.
money. Framework and content implemented during 2013/14. Institutional Communication Framework and content for communication using shared platforms for 2013/14 agreed by June 2013. review and refinement of the resources and approaches being developed by this project. 5. implementation. Main risks (Append a more detailed risk analysis. Resources People. Framework and content reviewed. and Communication Strategy and Coordination Groups will be required until September 2014 to ensure the development. Project brief / terms of reference template 8 04/07/2013 . Communication skills Programme for second phase of Pilot APCS programme to be agreed by July 2013 Programme of lectures to be delivered to 10 or 11 UG programmes as phase 2 of APCS during 2013/14 Programme reviewed. Future proofing Proposals and resources for maintaining and building on the enhancements delivered through the project beyond September 2014 agreed by December 2013. evaluated and refined for 2014/15 by March 2014. Requirement for additional resources during and beyond project is under consideration. separate template provided) Risk assessment is in progress. equipment. evaluated and refined for 2014/15 by June 2014. monitoring. in time to inform recruitment and training of Peer Mentors for 2014/15 during April 2014. space that will be needed and what is already available / committed. The Project Board. 7.Change management tool kit – project management templates Peer Mentoring reviewed. Project Management Group. evaluated and refined for 2014/15 by June 2014 6. Commence implementation of approved proposals for maintenance and enhancement beyond September 2014 by January 2014.
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