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Extended Induction

A low to moderate cost intervention, with limited evidence, which suggests it may have a positive impact.

An extended induction period for first year students to ease the transition to university.

Extended inductions enhance the usual short, one week induction period. Inductions can focus on either social integration or academic skills and expectations, or a combination of both. They can also encompass other interventions such as peer mentoring and attainment support.

Universities have piloted their own innovative interventions developed in response to their own perceived needs. Examples include:

  • Summer transition programmes
  • Pre-induction social networking, events and sessions
  • A subject-related task for the first week
  • subject-specific modules at the start of the programme
  • Extended induction sessions over several weeks
  • Online learning activities for the first six weeks
  • Weekly support sessions throughout the first year


Queen Margaret University: Direct Entrant Longitudinal Induction

Direct Entrants (DE), such as those who progress to Level 2 or above in higher education from college courses or other pathways, can feel under-prepared for university life and/or have difficulty adjusting to methods of teaching and learning in HE. The Longitudinal Induction at QMU has been designed to support the smooth transition and retention of DE students by introducing students to teaching staff, peers and wider support services over the course of a series of informal sessions.

In one session, students complete an online survey designed to explore their anxieties and aptitudes upon entering University. Each student then receives individually-tailored feedback via video. The data captured during these sessions informs the design of targeted interventions for DE students which are delivered alongside regularly-scheduled drop-in sessions as part of a long-term process. Direct entrants value the opportunity to take part in the extended induction. The university is currently exploring how it can refine the approach in response to student feedback, including how they can enable students to gain more practical experience of university prior to enrolment and further support to develop independent learning skills. QMU strongly believes that iniatives such as these can only truly benefit students if they are embedded long-term into standard practice, properly staffed and resourced, and as inclusive as possible. The University is continuing to explore ways in which this can be achieved.

Approximately 60 students per year benefit from the programme which is delivered by early career researchers at a cost of approximately £11,000.

For further information on the induction process see:

Target Audiences

The majority of evidence included in this review evaluate programmes aimed at all first year students rather than specific cohorts.

There are examples of this intervention being tested on the following target audiences:

  • Students with socio-economic disadvantage
  • Students with autism
  • Students judged to be ‘at risk’ of withdrawal, based on previous attainment and / or background


  • Year 1 retention rates
  • Improved attainment, specifically self-reported impact on academic skills, and mid-year / end of year attainment scores

How effective is it?

Most of the evidence reviewed suggests the intervention has a positive impact on outcomes, although some studies suggest no impacts.

The most robust evidence (a single level 3 study) found significant positive impacts on adjustment to university life and attendance but did not measure attainment and retention directly.

There is limited evidence of increased attainment as a result of extended inductions as studies rarely provide data on this. One level 2 study in Australia reported significantly better semester one grade point averages of students who had attended a 5 day pre-entry induction programme (academic and social support) compared to those who did not. A UK study found an association between attending induction and attainment. Two other level 2 studies, however, found no impact on attainment.

There is limited evidence of improved retention rates as a result of extended inductions as these are rarely directly measured. Level 2 studies from Scotland suggest higher progression into year 2 for students from low socio-economic backgrounds who attended a pre-entry preparation programme compared to other students.

Several of the studies reviewed do not measure attainment or retention directly but report a positive impact on other measures, such as improved self-advocacy, development of peer networks and reduced anxiety.


What are the costs?

No information is provided on the cost of this intervention in the studies reviewed.

However, information contained in studies reviewed suggest this is a low to moderate cost activity. As the type of extended induction varies, the cost of these programmes will be dependent on the content and intensity of the intervention. Lower cost induction programmes could include pre-induction social networking, online learning activities and a small number of extra sessions. Higher cost induction programmes could include multiple sessions of on-site support offered before the start of the academic year, particularly if this is then extended to provide further support sessions during the year.


How good is the current evidence?

The strength of evidence on the impact of this intervention is limited.

We found 17 studies – one study at level 3 and eight individual studies at level 2. The remaining eight are level 1, evaluating the programme post-intervention without a pre-intervention or group comparator.

How relevant is the evidence?

The majority of the evidence comes from the UK (ten of the sixteen studies reviewed), however the sole level 3 study was conducted in North America.

Four of the UK articles are from Scottish universities, including three of the level 2 studies.

Overall, the evidence should be considered relevant to the Scottish context.

Things to consider

Longitudinal inductions vary significantly in the type of programme that can be included under this intervention heading. There is not enough robust evidence to suggest that a particular type of longitudinal induction is more effective than another. It is assumed in a number of studies that a combination of activities, particularly those that incorporate social and academic support, will be more likely to have a positive impact. However there are no studies that robustly test this.

Two studies suggest that simply attending an induction may be a more significant predictor of retention and success than the type of induction offered.

Qualitative feedback on the perceived usefulness of longitudinal or innovative inductions is encouraging and of value, but tends to be based on small sample sizes.

A number of studies reflect on the process of implementing longitudinal induction programmes. This can provide useful direction to those wishing to implement similar activities.

Further Research Recommended

More level 3 studies in the UK that explicitly measure the impact on attainment and retention. There is clearly a great deal of innovative activity happening in UK universities in an attempt to improve the effectiveness of inductions, including extending the activity to before and after ‘Freshers Week’ to address the factors known to contribute to student withdrawal. Evaluations provide some evidence of the impact of extended inductions on factors such as anxiety and integration, but limited evidence of a resulting effect on attainment and retention. Level 3 evaluations of these programmes would considerably strengthen the current evidence base and further our understanding of what type of longitudinal induction might be most effective.

There has been minimal research conducted on the potential impact of longitudinal inductions on particular target groups. Where these programmes are targeted at specific ‘at-risk’ groups, robust evaluations should be conducted to examine their effectiveness for these groups in particular.

Evaluations are needed of induction programmes targeted at specific groups, particularly those at socio-economic disadvantage.

Further Information

See Facilitating the Transition to University by Pratt et al. (2000) for a level 3 study of an enhanced induction.

For evaluation studies that provide learning and good practice advice on designing extended inductions see Turner et al. (2017), Easing the Transition of First Year Undergraduates through an Immersive Induction Module and Examining the Impact of Pre-Induction Social Networking on the Student Transition in Higher Education by Ribchester, Ross and Rees (2013)


Level 3

Pratt, M. W., Hunsberger, B., Pancer, M., Alisat, S., Bowers, C., Mackey, K., Ostaniewicz, A.,Rog, E., Terzian, B., Thomas, N. (2000) ‘Facilitating the transition to university: evaluation of a social support discussion intervention program’. Journal of College Student Development, Vol.41(4), pp.427-41.


Level 2

Croll., N., Browitt., A. (2015). Pre-entry Widening Participation Programmes at the University of Glasgow: Preparing applicants for successful transitions to degree study. Enhancement and Innovation in Higher Education, Glasgow, UK.

Deroma, V., Bell, N., Zaremba, B. and John, A. (2005), ‘Evaluation of a college transition program for students at-risk for academic failure.’ Research & Teaching in Developmental Education Vol. 21(2), pp.20-33.

Hotez, E., Shane-Simpson, C., Obeid, R., DeNigris, D., Siller, M., Costikas, C., Pickens, J., Massa, J. Giannola, M., D’Onofrio, J., Gillespie-Lynch, K., (2018). ‘Designing a Summer Transition Program for Incoming and Current College Students on the Autism Spectrum: A Participatory Approach.’ Frontiers in Psychology.

Huxham, M. (2006) ‘Extended induction tutorials for ‘at-risk’ students’ cited in Cook, A., Macintosh, K. A. and Rushton, B. S. (ed)  The STAR (Student Transition and Retention) Project, Supporting Students: Tutorial Support. Northern Ireland: University of Ulster

McIntyre, J., Todd, N., Huijser, H. and Tehan, G. (2012). ‘Building pathways to academic success. A Practice Report.’ The International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education, Vol .3(1) pp. 109 – 118

Murtagh, S., Ridley, A., Frings, D. and Kerr – Pertic, S. (2017). ‘First-year undergraduate induction: who attends and how important is induction for first year attainment?’ Journal of Further and Higher Education Vol. 41(5), pp.597-610

Turner, R., Morrison, D., Cotton, D., Child, S., Stevens, S., Nash, P. and Kneale, P. (2017). ‘Easing the transition of first year undergraduates through an immersive induction module’. Teaching in Higher Education Vol. 22(7), pp.805-821

Walker, L., Matthew, B., and Black, F. (2004). ‘Widening access and student non‐completion: an inevitable link? Evaluating the effects of the Top‐Up Programme on student completion.’ International Journal of Lifelong Education, Vol. 23(1), pp.43-59.


Level 1

Devlin, A., Lally, V., Canavan, B. and Magill., J. (2013), ‘The role of the “Inter-Life” virtual world as a creative technology to support student transition into higher education’. Creative Education Vol. 04(07), pp.191-201.

Edward, N. and Middleton, J. (2002), ‘The challenge of induction! Introducing engineering students to higher education: A task-oriented approach.’ Innovations in Education and Teaching International Vol. 39(1), pp.46-53.

Gaskin, S. and Hall, R. (2002). ‘Exploring London: a novel induction exercise for the new undergraduate’. Journal of Geography in Higher Education Vol. 26(2), pp.197-208.

Laing, C., Robinson, A., Johnston, V. (2005) ‘Managing the transition into higher education: an on-line spiral induction programme.’ Active Learning in Higher Education: The Journal of the Institute for Learning and Teaching, Vol.6(3), pp.243-255.

Pérez-López, M. C., Ordóñez-Solana, C. and Argente-Linares, E. (2017). ‘Implementation and evaluation of a first-year university induction support programme for business students in Spain’ British Journal of Guidance & Counselling pp.1-13.

Ribchester, C., Ross, K., Rees, E. (2014). ‘Examining the impact of pre-induction social networking on the student transition into higher education.’ Innovations in Education and Teaching International, Vol.51(4), pp.355-365.

Richardson, M., Tate, S.(2013). ‘Improving the transition to university: introducing student voices into the formal induction process for new geography undergraduates.’ Journal of Geography in Higher Education, Vol.37(4), pp.611-618.

White, S., Elias, R., Capriola-Hall, N., Smith, I., Conner, C., Asselin, S., Howlin, P., Getzel, E., Mazefsky, C. (2017). ‘Development of a college transition and support program for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.’ Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Vol.47(10), pp.3072-3078.