End of year report June 2016

What are the outcomes of your student transitions work this year for your institution? Mapped against University of Stirling Aims

Aim 2015-2016


Sustain project work and maintain an overview on themes emerging.

In 2016, we have employed a part-time, temporary project officer to co-ordinate activities and projects, maintain an overview of the Theme and lead on dissemination.

We have formalised our ‘Enhancement Theme’ committee structure. We now have a ‘Management Group’ and an ‘Institutional Working Group’ – both with clearly defined roles and remits. This is to ensure the sustainability of this work beyond the current Theme. We have student representation on both group.

All university-wide projects have submitted a progress report and preparations are being made for final project reports at the end of January 2017 (to allow time for collation and overall themes to be extracted).  A selection of papers were peer-reviewed and projects were invited to present at the University of Stirling Learning and Teaching Conference and three project papers went to the QAA conference.

In 2015-2016, we also had seven SELF (Stirling Enhanced Learning Fund), year-long projects focused on Transition. These projects were invited to present at the University of Stirling, 2016 Learning and Teaching conference and QAA conference. Outputs have included events  focusing on transitions for students and supervisors, resources for PG students entering Masters and PhDs, (e.g. posters, handbooks and PowerPoints – see  http://stir.ac.uk/18d ), a digital boot camp for college students and a new writing scheme for all Arts and Humanities students. We know that at least one project has submitted an article for publication (on Transitions from workplace to academic study) to ‘Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education’.

The QET projects are progressing and are just entering the final stages. Outputs so far have included -

  • Staff development workshop on ‘Embedding Employability into the Curriculum’. A card sort exercise has been developed in partnership with the Making the Most of Masters Project through Talking Mats which focuses on student’s transitioning in and out of work. Embedded employability sessions developed for the Management School PDP module.
  • Staff development working on mapping academic literacies and embedding these into the curriculum.  Paper on this presented at Scot-Elas and also QAA conference.
  • Current students in college interviewed and a study skills audit collected to inform development of a ‘Study skills’ workshop.  This has been developed in conjunction with a local college to support an integrated degree programme students as they transition into third year.  Workshop was delivered (June 2-16) and evaluation is now ongoing to inform development for 2016-2017.  
  • For Psychology students going into Honours year, data collection has been completed and an intervention strategy is ready for implementation in year 2016-2017.  Evaluation of this will generate a set of recommendations based upon staff and students’ perceptions of the aims, challenges and requirements of Honours study. A full paper on this project is available.
  • A graphic representation of student transitions developed by students, and later showcased at the University of Stirling Learning and Teaching Conference, Scot-ELAS and the  QAA Enhancement Themes Conference

A number of these QET projects gave presentation at the University of Stirling Learning and Teaching conference 2016 and at the QAA 13th Enhancement theme conference.

We now have a database to record all transitions work going on in the University. So far there are 16 case studies recorded with 6 pending. We expect to see this number increase significantly in 2016-2017, prior to dissemination.

Raise the profile of the ‘Transition’ theme and engagement across the University community.

The University Stirling 2016 Learning and Teaching conference (April 20th) had ‘Transitions’ as its theme. Professor Roni Bamber gave the keynote. There were 30 submissions and details of final programme and abstracts are here https://www.stir.ac.uk/learningandteaching/thelearningandteachingconference2016/.  Two PhD students presented and a student panel (4 students) reviewed their experience of transitions at the University. Both SELF project and QET projects were represented. The conference was co-organised by an ‘Ambitious Futures’ graduate intern.

Staff and students were encouraged to submit proposals and attend the QAA conference (June 2016). We had a total of 5 presentations and an increased number of University of Stirling staff attending was noted. A number of University of Stirling staff and a student, reviewed conference proposals.

Faculties, service areas and the Student union have been asked for recent case studies of good ‘transitions’ practice. Eight have been sent to the QAA and we have collated a total of 16 for our own web site (with 6 pending).

The ‘Student Transitions’ poster has been presented at the University of Stirling Learning and Teaching Conference, Scot-ELAS (Aberdeen) and at the QAA 13th Enhancement Theme conference. 

The University Enhancement Theme newsletter for Staff and students is now a regular item. We have had two copies this quarter, disseminated by e-mail and through the portal.

Development of a dedicated Enhancement Themes web page is under way. This will be used to showcase case studies, encourage further engagement and disseminate information.

Our Internal Communications Officer has joined the QET Working Group.

Promote embedding of good practice into everyday practice.

QET work is now formally reported to the University Induction Working Group and the University Education and Student experience Committee.

It is now University policy that ‘Employability’, ‘Learning Strategies’, ‘Internationalisation’ and Employability’ will be embedded throughout programmes. This process has now started and the focus this year is on mapping practice and developing staff CPD workshops and materials.

Discussions are ongoing around developing a ‘Student Experience Framework’ to support transition into, through and out of university. Initial work is focused on ‘Employability’ and ‘Learning Strategies’.  A pilot staff development session was held at the University of Stirling. 

The University of Stirling QET newsletter highlights relevant QAA activities and reports to staff.

University of Stirling Learning and Teaching Conference held a ‘Staff postcard’ event to encourage embedding into practice.   

In what ways have students been involved in Student Transitions projects and in shaping the institutional strategy for the Theme work?

Students have been involved in the transitions work from the very start. Student representation includes:

  • Three student representatives (including one Sabbatical Officer) on the Institutional Working Group
  • One Sabbatical Officer and staff member from the Students’ Union on the Management Group. 
  • Student representation on the Student Network
  • VP Education invited to speak at the Student Engagement  Event (April 2016)
  • Student Panel as a keynote session at the University Stirling Learning and Teaching conference
  • One QET project is led by the Students’ Union.

Students have also been involved in the numerous activities run by the Students’ Union, including:

  • A 4 hour graphic facilitation workshop which produced a poster based on student interviews.
  • The University Stirling 2016 Learning and Teaching conference (April 20th). Two PhD students presented, there was one undergraduate student presentation and a student panel (4 students) had a keynote slot.  Students also attended.
  • Students have been encouraged to submit proposals and attend the QAA conference (June 2016). We had one student presentation.  
  • The Students’ Union have passed union policy on support for ‘Young Adult Carers’
  • A fourth Year Business student is undertaking a dissertation  on the challenges that students face when transitioning into the workplace (School of Management)

How have your inter-institutional collaborative activities developed during 2015-16? What have you learned to date?

We had representation at the University of Edinburgh Conference (‘Gearing up for Transitions: in, through and out of University’) and staff attended the ‘Transition skills’ Developments days in Edinburgh and Dundee.

  • We offered 5 free places to TLG members at the University of Stirling, 2016 Learning and Teaching conference. Nineteen external candidates attended the University Stirling Learning and Teaching conference.
  • We have set up a shared repository of materials for institutions interested in developing a Student Experience Framework.
  • Work has taken place between the University of Stirling and Forth Valley College to design and deliver  a ‘study skills’ day for the integrated degree programme students (June 10th). 
  • VP Education invited to present at the QAA Student Engagement event (April 2016)
  • Staff participated in the Internationalisation survey and second year QET evaluation.

We have learnt that to sustain meaningful collaboration we need to:

  • Consider collaboration at the development stage of projects
  • Set common goals and outcomes to align work
  • Time is required to collaborate effectively

Did your plans for 2015-16 run as planned? What have you learned from the processes you have used? Have there been any unintended consequences/unexpected findings?

Overall yes.

  • Projects are at different stages but we are confident that they will be completed by January 2017. 
  • We have moved the structure to support QET work to a more sustainable model. ‘Transitions’ work is being embedded within policy and practice.
  • Staff engagement has been encouraging.
  • There was already a breadth of good practice and development across the university

What aspects of the Student Transitions Theme are you planning to focus on during 2016-17? To what extent have these been shaped by your work this year?


  • Finish projects
  • Final reports received from each project
  • Outputs collated

Continue to collect case studies

  • Identify good practice  and use to develop  staff CPD events

For a final overall institutional report, draw out

  • Outputs
  • Impact on students and staff  
  • Common themes on transitions from across projects
  • Recommendations for action at different levels.

Could be done through:

  • Interview staff 
  • Interview students
  • Away day

Report to go to:

  • Faculty LTC
  • ESEC?
  • Service areas
  • Induction Group
  • External??

Student report?

Digital output (to include some of materials above)

Dissemination to include:

  • QAA 14th Conference
  • Journal contribution for identified projects 
  • Web page case studies
  • Staff events
  • Induction

Looking back at your original plans for the whole Theme (www.enhancementthemes.ac.uk) what do you envisage will be the effects of the Theme for staff and students at your institution, by the end of the Theme?

  • Increased staff awareness of transitions
  • Practical  steps taken to ease and empower students through transitions