MDX has been shortlisted for the inaugural Pearson HE Innovate awards in the Most Innovative Approach to Supporting Students category, for transition to HE programme Springboard to Success: The Many Phases of Student Transition.
Springboard to Success grew out of the recognition that MDX needed an extended transition programme for MDX's extremely diverse student body, including 40% of home and EU undergraduates having been eligible for free school meals. The programme includes a variety of activity helping students overcome challenges and develop networks.
The project began in 2017/18 and has been in continuous development. In autumn 2018, the Getting Ahead programme offered a welcome event with a motivational guest speaker, ambassadors providing peer-to-peer support and opportunity for students to get to know each other and familiarise themselves with university support services. In 2019 workshops on managing university life, financial support, academic support and wellbeing were added to the programme. The latest phase, Ready for Anything, was introduced last year to support transition during a pandemic. Student feedback has influenced MDX's 2021 offering and incorporates some campus activity.
Ready for Anything ensured students' transition was as steady and welcoming as possible in spite of Covid. Getting Ahead's one day welcome event became a six week online programme combining pastoral support with academic programme information, with 23 in-person and online events to help new students get the most of their university experience.
Alongside this, Foundation Level and first year students were invited to complete a pre-arrival survey exploring their motivations for study. Students are given an action plan signposting them to recommended support based on their responses. More than 65 students or recent graduates were appointed as digital buddies, to assist academics with the technical aspects of online teaching, and a successful student peer to peer call-up campaign further supported transition by helping students overcome any barriers they faced to learning.
"It was lovely meeting people. It has made me leave feeling positive, empowered and happy” said one student starting their course about the Getting Ahead programme. “I have learned about myself and am excited to start at MDX".
A 56 year old new student, returning to education after 38 years, said: “It was a brilliant opportunity to gradually adapt into the university community. Wonderful presentation full of life, hope and courage".
In the 2020 Welcome Survey, 92% of the respondents said they felt warmly received by the MDX community.
Springboard to Success project lead, Director of Academic Lifecycles Lia Lawson, said the nomination is "a phenomenal opportunity to reflect how far we've come and an opportunity to celebrate what we do.
"It's testament to how three very large MDX communities, the Students’ Union, Faculties and Professional Services have collaborated, creating their own community around transition".
The project will continue to evolve and grow, says Lia, to provide an inclusive programme for all MDX students facing phases of transition, from prospective student to alumnus.
The winners will be announced on Thursday 16th September.