Getting ready to make Welcome Week 2022 better than ever
Preparations are already underway to make the start of the academic year 2022/23 better than ever before and create the best possible experience for students and staff.
Each year The University of Edinburgh hosts two start of term open days for new students to welcome them to the University community and ensure they have access to key services they need to get their studies started.
Delivery of the September events is overseen by the Start of Term project team and brings together staff from all areas of Information Services Group, as well as colleagues from Student Systems and Estates and student helpers.
The project has been running for several years and has gone from strength to strength concerning successful delivery, student satisfaction and the tremendous levels of teamwork and collaboration from the project team and beyond.
Last year the Start of Term team also successfully overcame additional challenges posed by changing Covid-19 restrictions and more students than ever on campus for the first time.
The project is delivered in two strands. The IT Readiness strand works to ensure all projects, services and operational activities that are required to deliver a successful experience for new and returning students are in place and functioning correctly.
The Welcome Week strand manages the delivery of a wide variety of activity including:
- Card production for new students
- Queue Management
- IT connectivity
- Bank letters
- All non-library activity in the main library
- Welcome Week specific signage
- Experiential activities and giveaways
- Recruitment and management of student helpers
- Library Tours
Among the many highlights of the 2021 Welcome week were the successful production of over 18,000 student cards and 11,000 bank letters, cutting waiting times for entry to the library events from as high as 30 minutes in previous years to as low as three minutes this year, and completion of 223 library tours undertaken by 994 students led by 14 tour guides.
Additionally, 97 percent of new students reported that their first experience of the University’s Main Library was ‘Very Good’ or ‘Good’.
September 2021 also saw the introduction of student-manned Covid-19 testing stations, as part of the TestEd programme, as well as more stands than ever before in the Main Library on services from Student Counselling to the popular uCreate Studio.
Yet, despite these achievements, the Start of Term Project team are not resting on their laurels but are working hard to make Welcome Week and the return to University in September 2022 even more successful.
Tim Gray, Senior Project Manager for the Start of Term project, said: “This project was a huge success in 2021. However, despite this success, the project team, in their strive for continuous improvement, have identified some areas that can be improved on in future years.
“As part of the project post-mortem, the team reviewed three areas, what went well, what didn't go well and crucially, what to do better next year. A lot of these points build on the changes made this year.”
Six key areas have been highlighted for improvements by the project team.
Among these are enhancements to the Library Tours on offer during Welcome Week. Use of the MS Bookings app are being considered to make the system more user friendly and flexible, and to boost capacity.
Floor plan layouts at the library will also be improved to give greater prominence to popular stalls, such as uCreate, based on experiences from the 2021 Welcome Week.
Changes to the WIFI connectivity are also being examined, with discussions taking place between the project and Networks teams to make it even easier for students to get online via the already very successful eduroam connection app.
In collaboration with the Unitemps recruitment company, student helper recruitment will begin earlier in 2022 than in previous years, to overcome one of the biggest challenges experienced last year and get ahead of the ‘summer rush’.
This will further allow helpers to start a little earlier and provide more time for training and familiarisation.
Strengthening of communications via social media and of messaging and information sharing will be carried out so that all information on University web pages is consistent to avoid confusion – especially for students whose first language is not English.
Additionally, enhancements will be made within the IS Service and Project Reporting. This will include greater use of MS Office tools to bolster the effective project Wiki page, such as setting automatic reminders and improved options according to the Red Amber Green (RAG) status system.