Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Student transitions to university in Wales: A mixed-method study of the enablers and barriers of first-year engagement

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posted on 2022-12-12, 12:50 authored by Emma Rawlings Smith, Kieran Hodgkin, Nick Young

 This mixed methods study examines the transition to university and draws on questionnaire and focus group data to explore the experiences and perceptions of first-year Education students making the transition to Welsh universities. It focuses on their preparedness for and engagement with their studies. Findings identify a significant variation in students’ experiences of post-16 educational provision and the academic, social and digital competencies they acquired before joining university. Students in the study experienced significant academic and social upheaval due to the pandemic. They had to adjust to new ways of learning, felt disconnected from others and missed out on key transition activities. The move to remote learning enhanced digital competencies for those with suitable devices and digital access, yet limited opportunities to develop competencies reliant on social interactions and experiential opportunities. We reconceptualise transition as a process that occurs over a longer timeframe than currently recognised and conclude with recommendations identified by students that smooth the university transition and support engagement with learning as they develop their academic identity and sense of belonging at university. 


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International Journal of Educational Research Open




  • VoR (Version of Record)


Smith, E.R., Hodgkin, K. and Young, N. (2022) 'Student transitions to university in Wales: A mixed-method study of the enablers and barriers of first-year engagement', International Journal of Educational Research Open, 3, p.100216.

Electronic ISSN


Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Education and Social Policy

Cardiff Met Authors

Kieran Hodgkin Nick Young

Copyright Holder

  • © The Authors


  • en

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