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The First Year was a two-year Enhancement Theme that ran alongside Research-Teaching Linkages from 2006 to 2008. Much has changed since The First Year finished but the focus of this Enhancement Theme remains as relevant today as it did in 2006. Chosen due to its relevant nature and the demonstrable interest within Scotland’s universities to enhance first-year student support, The First Year aimed to address one fundamental question, ‘What should students get out of their first year?’ 


Taking what was considered to be a novel approach in 2006, the Theme explored methods of closely aligning student and staff perspectives and more evenly distributing the responsibility for educational outcomes between the two groups. 


On a very basic level, the Theme was premised around the idea that the first year would be the easiest point in a student’s learner journey to shift their attitude to study. The First Year’s emphasis on the empowerment and engagement of students, rather than solely on their support, gave students an ownership of, and responsibility, for their first-year experience. Interest in the first-year student experience did not abate in 2008, leading to the introduction of a related Enhancement Theme, Student Transitions, in 2014.

Overview report

Overview of the First Year Enhancement Theme 2006-2008

Publication date: 09 Feb 2009

Commissioned reports

Curriculum Design for first year 

Publication date: 17 Jul 2008

Peer support in the first year

Publication date: 15 Aug 2008

Personalisation of the first year

Publication date: 04 Mar 2008

Transition to and during first year

Publication date: 11 Mar 2008

Introducing scholarship skills: Academic writing 

Publication date: 10 Sep 2008

Personal development planning in the first year

Publication date: 13 Aug 2008

Transforming assessment and feedback: Enhancing integration and empowerment

Publication date: 11 Feb 2009

Sector-wide reports

The nature and purposes of first year

Publication date: 08 Apr 2008

Sharing and reflecting on international experiences and initiatives

Publication date: 19 Aug 2008

Student expectations, experiences and reflections on first year

Publication date: 01 Jul 2009