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 Theme 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 Theme 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.