The School of Business and Management at Queen Mary University of London has piloted a transition programme for students starting undergraduate degrees who have BTEC qualifications.
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.
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.
For the Step Ahead programme, Queen Mary’s 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.
Student hosts participated in a series of training courses led by Dr Tracy Bussoli and Manesha Pieris over three weeks. Specific courses included modules on presentations skills, e-learning and lesson planning where students were given opportunities to develop their communication and teamwork skills.
Mohammed Shuheb Miah, a student host on the Step Ahead programme, previous BTEC student and recent Queen Mary graduate said: “I felt overwhelmed and hesitant when I first joined the School of Business and Management. The Step Ahead programme is important in my view. Step Ahead helps students to get to know their cohort, feel more comfortable and establish relationships with tutors and lecturers, all before welcome week. I’m now leaning towards a career in consultancy due to the skills I have developed hosting the programme, such as giving and listening to feedback.”
Dr Mustafa Ozturk, Senior Lecturer in Management at Queen Mary 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.”
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