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School of Business and Management

Students with BTEC qualifications get a Step Ahead at the School of Business and Management

The School of Business and Management has piloted a transition programme for students starting undergraduate degrees who have BTEC qualifications.

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The programme, Step Ahead, aims to help incoming students adapt to university life by participating in training workshops and connecting them with future classmates as well as academic staff and tutors. Step Ahead is hosted by current students from similar backgrounds.

Bridging the gap

According to research carried out by a student consultancy team at Queen Mary earlier this year, a higher proportion of BTEC students feel unprepared for University study and lack key academic skills. In addition many of these students are the first in their family to attend university. This years’ cohort have also experienced stressful delays receiving their results and many may feel less confident to adapt to online study. Step Ahead aims to help students settle into university life and develop their skills moving forward.

At Queen Mary University of London 42 per cent of students are the first in their families to go into higher education and over 30 per cent are from households where the household income, as assessed by Student Finance England, is less than £15,000. 

Step Ahead with Queen Mary

For the Step Ahead programme, the School of Business and Management prioritised students from key target schools and colleges including Stepney All Saints School, Tower Hamlets College and Swanlea School in Whitechapel.

Students participated in a series of training courses led by Dr Tracy Bussoli and Manesha Pieris over three weeks. Specific courses includes modules on presentations skills, e-learning and lesson planning where students were given opportunities to develop their communication and teamwork skills.

Participant feedback on the programme was very positive, with one participant saying: "The programme helped me transition in a better state because I got to meet people who was in the same position as me. I was nervous and excited to start the first big step of my life into university and hearing that there's always help on the way is really reassuring."

Another student praised the program's ability to create valuable support networks that are key to development: "This programme has showed me different exams technique and where to go if I need support. I have met a lot of people from this programme and it made me less nervous to talk to people. I'm glad I did it because I got the information that I needed and its definitely going to be much easier to transition to university."

Dr Mustafa Ozturk, Senior Lecturer in Management said: “This initiative is a reflection of our strong commitment to social justice. Research has shown that a greater proportion of students with BTEC qualifications are from BAME and underprivileged backgrounds. Through Step Ahead we are helping to open the doors of opportunity to our students.”