The First Year Experience Project; Exploring the needs of first year students at the University of Northampton

Grace Sykes, Karin Johnston and Lauren McAllister

2016 conference

The First Year Experience (FYE) Project aims to enhance student progression to year 2; with 11.3% of year one students in 2013/14 identified as withdrawing from full time undergraduate programmes.

Historically, research identifies ‘academic problems’ as a contributory factor to students not progressing onto their second year[1]. Similarly, research conducted within the university document concerns on how ‘best’ to support our undergraduates[2].

CfAP offer a multitude of resources (both online and face to face) to provide academic support to all students. However, with retention an emerging concern within the university, two CfAP tutors are tasked with scoping the academic needs of our first year undergraduates. These needs have been identified in discussions with academic staff, first year students, and other staff members within LLS. Using this data, a new work plan will be proposed and trialled to provide CfAP with a grounded foundation to better support our first year undergraduate cohorts, and further impact retention.

Staff are therefore invited to engage in an interactive workshop discussing the identified needs of undergraduate students across the university (as identified by our academic staff and students), and further contribute to this discussion with their own experiences.

[1] Johnston, V. (1997). Why do first year students fail to progress to their second year? An academic staff perspective. In: British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, proceedings of a conference, September 11th. University of York. Available from:
[2] Lumsden, E., McBryde-Wilding, H., Rose, H. (2010) Collaborative practice in enhancing the first year student experience in Higher Education. Enhancing the Learner Experience in Higher Education. 2 (1), 12-24. Available from: