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Durham University

Learning and Teaching Handbook

Principles for Student Induction


  1. The University's approach to student induction will recognise that initial induction to the University is part of a longer process of transition from secondary to higher education or from undergraduate to postgraduate study that extends beyond the first weeks of a student's programme of study. Effective induction is a crucial first part of ensuring that students are supported throughout their time at the University.
  1. Induction for new students will cover the breadth of the student experience including an academic induction that addresses the skills required to read for a degree in the student's chosen subject area(s) and a college induction which will cover student support within colleges and access to specialist student services.
  1. Formal induction arrangements, which will be coordinated across the University, will therefore be put in place in all departments and colleges, and will apply to both undergraduate (including Foundation Centre students) and taught postgraduate students. The separate needs of undergraduate and taught postgraduate students in relation to induction will be taken into consideration.
  1. These principles do not apply to induction arrangements for research postgraduate students, which form an element of the Code of Practice on Research Degrees and will be reviewed separately by the Dean and Deputy to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) and recommendations made to Education Committee and Senate.

Responsibilities of Academic Departments

  1. Academic induction will introduce students to their new academic community of practice and identify the level of commitment and standards expected of them. The exact model of delivery of this may vary but should include an introduction to the life of the department, the roles and contributions of students (undergraduate, taught postgraduate and research postgraduate), the roles and responsibilities of academics, and subject-specific and, where appropriate, vocation-specific working practices.
  1. Academic induction will show students how their programme of study is constituted as research-led education, with a coherent and explicit progression through the stages of the programme, which allows them to develop further as independent learners and which culminates in a research project, dissertation or equivalent.
  1. Induction events and activities within academic departments will consider the needs of part-time, international and interdisciplinary (e.g. Natural Sciences, Joint Honours and Combined Honours) students.
  1. Where appropriate, academic departments will guide new students in making their module choices during induction week. This may take the form of individual guidance provided by academic advisers, introductory talks or module fairs for those choosing elective subjects.
  1. Departments are expected to offer opportunities for all new taught students to meet with their appointed Academic Adviser during Induction Week or early in the first term and students are expected to attend.
  1. Academic induction will address subject-specific study skills, introducing subject methodologies, methods of learning and teaching in the subject, the roles of formative and summative assessment, and the use of assessment feedback to improve academic performance. Where appropriate, academic departments will be supported by the English Language Centre in delivering this perspective. Academic induction will also provide students with the opportunity to become familiar with assessment criteria.
  1. Academic induction will introduce students to the transferable skills which they will develop through their programme of study and to the common graduate destinations at the end of their programme. Academic departments will be supported by the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre in delivering this perspective.
  1. Academic induction will provide initial guidance for students on the level of writing, communication and numeracy skills that they will be expected to develop in their chosen subject area(s).
  1. Academic departments will promote opportunities for students to engage in the decision making processes that impact on their academic experience including the course representative system.
  1. Academic departments will offer events and activities that provide new students with opportunities to interact with each other, and with other current students and academic staff in both formal and informal settings.
  1. Academic departments will provide induction activities that facilitate active student participation and that may also engage students with the Library, the virtual learning environment and other aspects of the University's learning infrastructure.

Responsibilities of Colleges

  1. College Officers and Common Rooms will be jointly responsible for the delivery of principles 16 to 23.
  1. Colleges will be responsible for initial welcome events and will be the first point of contact with the University for new students.
  1. College induction will foster a sense of community amongst new students and create a sense of belonging to both the college and the University as a whole, via events and extracurricular activities, and through opportunities to interact formally and informally with College Officers, Mentors, college 'parents' and other undergraduate and postgraduate students as appropriate. College Common Rooms will work in close partnership with the College Officers and liaise with the Students’ Union to deliver events and activities consistent with the values of both the colleges and the University.
  1. College induction will cover the various sources of support, guidance and information available to students from colleges, academic departments and specialist student services. Students will be provided with clear information on the types of support available and contact details for appropriate individuals and services.
  1. College induction will ensure students are aware of key safety messages and behavioural expectations, including safety at night, sexual consent and alcohol awareness. These messages are delivered in partnership with the local Police forces including the University’s Police Liaison Officer.
  1. Colleges play an important role in fostering research-led scholarly communities within the University. Therefore, as part of their induction into an academic community of practice, college induction will promote the events and the facilities offered within the college which complement their academic development.
  1. Colleges will encourage students (including Foundation Centre students) to take up opportunities with the Colleges, the Students’ Union and across the University for personal development and the acquisition of wider skills that will prepare them for their future lives and employment.
  1. College induction will address the diverse needs of specific student groups, including: undergraduate, taught postgraduate, international and part-time students.
  1. All new students will attend a matriculation ceremony during induction week at which, by college group, they will be formally admitted as members of the University.

Responsibilities of Professional Support Services

  1. The International Office will provide specific induction events for international students which will include a welcome and transfer service from local airports and train stations, practical advice and guidance.
  1. The English Language Centre’s Academic Writing Unit will assist and complement departmental orientations into academic communities of practice through the provision of both general and discipline-tailored inductions to academic writing expectations, conventions and style. New students will have further and ongoing access to academic writing enhancement opportunities centrally, via the Centre’s Academic Language and Communication courses.
  1. Working with academic departments, colleges and relevant specialist student services, the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre will introduce students to the importance of developing transferable skills, both academic and professional, through their programmes of study and through the wider range of opportunities available to them during their time at Durham University, with a view to future employment opportunities.
  1. Through the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre Skills Audit, new students have the opportunity to evaluate their skills on entry to the University against the Durham Graduate Qualities, in order to identify any skills gaps. The Careers Centre Academic Skills Programme will provide a pre-arrival Transitions to HE four-week e-learning course to support all incoming first year undergraduates, focusing on study skills and the generic skills required to make the transition into higher education.
  1. Throughout the first year (or first term in the case of 12 month taught postgraduate programmes) generic study skills sessions will be offered centrally, for example by the Academic Skills Programme, English Language Centre, CIS and the Library, which will assist students in the transition from secondary to higher education, or from undergraduate to postgraduate study. They will explore different types of learning and teaching (e.g. lectures, seminars, practicals) and develop generic study skills such as essay writing, time management and the use of IT and Library resources.
  1. The Library will introduce students to the importance of developing transferable research and digital and information literacy skills. The provision of generic and discipline specific training will enable students to fully exploit the range of resources available to support them throughout their programme of study.
  1. Experience Durham will provide new students with information on and opportunities to join sports teams and to engage in volunteering, music and drama activities, encouraging new students to develop their skills in, for example, teamwork, creativity and leadership.
  1. The Communications Office will co-ordinate the communication of planned Induction events, activities and information through the Welcome pages of the website, in order to help new students prior to arrival and during their first Induction week.

Responsibilities of the Students’ Union

  1. The Students’ Union will support the development of a sense of community and belonging amongst new students during induction week via social events and extracurricular activities, delivered in conjunction with colleges where appropriate. The Students’ Union will work in close partnership with College Officers and the Common Rooms to provide advice and guidance regarding the delivery of student-led induction activities in colleges consistent with the values of both the colleges and the University.
  1. The Students’ Union will promote opportunities for new students to become actively involved in representing the student voice across the University for example as a staff/student representative or as a Faculty representative.
  1. The Students’ Union will provide new students with information on and opportunities to join student societies, as a way of further developing a sense of communal identity among new students.