Information for staff

Making Transitions Personal

Making Transitions Personal is an approach designed by the University to assist schools in helping make students’ transitions through University more personal and have greater impact.


Research highlights the importance of engaging with students early on in their higher education transition, to help them feel part of the university, understand what is expected of them, increase their engagement and support their goals and aspirations with relevant tasks and activities (e.g. Crosling et al., 2009; Thomas, 2012).

‘…activities need to be informative, useful and relevant to students’ current interests future and aspirations; the potential benefits of engaging should be explicit to students’.

Thomas (2012)

Making Transitions Personal Framework

Making Transitions Personal is an approach designed by the University to assist schools in enhancing students’ transitions through University. This framework is designed to support staff to work with students from the outset of a student transition to consider their motivations, aspirations and expectations, and explore the actions and support that can help address these. These can then be followed-up each year to help support the student’s development and transition throughout University and make their University experience more positive, personal and productive.

The elements involved in Making Transitions Personal


Existing work and piloting has identified five elements for engaging with students to support their transition and short- and long-term success.

The elements are outlined below and can be used for new students or those entering a new year of study.  Applying these will support schools in helping their students make the most of their time here and in particular their year ahead, while also strengthening the connection between school and student.



  • Students’ motivations for studying at the University can drive their engagement with life here – both academic and non-academic.  Along with these motivations, students can sometimes bring anxieties and aspects they are excited about.  Discuss these with your students to provide a meaningful starting point to your school’s relationship with them as individuals.


  • Students often have multiple aspirations of their time at University but frequently do not articulate these, even to themselves.  Yet these aspirations (academic, career and personal development) can be short- or long-term and shape how successful they view their University experience as being. Explore students’ aspirations and how these can be supported.


  • Expectations of and on students are often not fully articulated, leading to mismatches between expectations and reality and to frustrations or difficulties.  Discuss the expectations for the coming year(s) early on, including differences with previous experiences, e.g. academic style, accessing support, and responsibility for one’s own development.


  • Many students leave actions too late. Encourage and prompt your students to start thinking about actions they can take to explore and/or progress their aspirations.


  • There is a vast range of local and central support for students – it is essential that they know what is available and are encouraged to use it, linked to their aspirations and actions.



Putting the elements into practice

Tailoring:  It is important that these elements are tailored to support local practice – please use and interpret them as suits your setting and your students. 

Timing:  However you choose to implement them, it is important to select the timing to align with other communication and initiatives and to give sufficient opportunity for students to engage. 

Method:  There are many ways to build the elements into your provision, either through a single initiative or through separate activities that address different parts of the elements. Whichever you choose, it is valuable to review your provision against the full set of elements.  Pre-Arrival or Start-of-Year Reviews are one of the most complete ways to build the five elements into local provision and to encourage a personal connection with students from the earliest stages.  For more information, please follow the link below.

Using Pre-Arrival and Start-of-Year Reviews in your school 


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