School of European Culture and Languages: Creating a Sense of Community

In an effort to create a sense of belonging and to encourage students to identify with the school community SECL (School of European Culture and Languages) offered all Stage 1 students a free branded hoodie during Welcome Week. This initiative was well received and over two hundred students placed an order. This initiative has given us a valuable opportunity to engage with our Stage 1 students and encourage early interpersonal communication, which we consider crucial to a positive and rewarding student experience. We have initially held focus groups with students who came through clearing and we are in the process of meeting with other target groups, such as mature students, those with caring responsibilities and students who regularly commute to university. Alongside the focus groups we have also held several student support sessions that have enabled open discussion regarding academic expectations. By bringing students together we aim to achieve the goal of social inclusion and the feedback tells us that these sessions have helped to alleviate initial anxieties and address feelings of isolation. Finally, all the students who ordered a hoodie also completed a survey that helped us to build a picture of the student experience. This contact will enable us to listen to the student narrative and understand more about the concerns and obstacles that influence academic performance, which will help us to develop new strategies and enhance the student experience.