This was a really interesting and well-organised conference. These are my own perceptions (in no particular order) based on the sessions I attended.
1 Universities are providing a wide range of induction and support programmes to new students in order to bridge perceived skills gaps. Judging by today’s sessions, peer-mentoring and peer-assisted support schemes are becoming increasingly popular.
2 Many students (second and third years) become mentors for altruistic reasons because they want to help other students.
3 Being mentored by peers can help new students to feel a sense of belonging.
4 It is difficult to evaluate the impact of peer-mentoring programmes.
5 Many new students do not necessarily want a peer mentor even if their universities provide them.
6 The availability of resources to support transition needs to be made very explicit to new students. They often lack awareness of what is on offer.
7 New students particularly like discipline-specific information to support transition into their courses. Evaluation surveys indicate that they are less interested in generic information and less likely to make use of it.
8 Mentoring schemes that are initiated, designed and delivered by students themselves are good for getting students to participate and for completing the feedback loop.
9 Student expectations of university and of the transition into degree programmes are likely to rise significantly with increased fees.
10 Universities will need to work very hard to respond to student expectations in the new fees regime.
For more information on the papers and workshops, see the conference website at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/transition/transition-conference-2011