For school and college leavers, the first day at University can seem like a blur. Classrooms are replaced with lecture theatres, terms become semesters and your teacher is now a lecturer. The library is actually a state-of-the-art learning centre, and you suddenly have a campus or two to navigate your way around. Students go from knowing everyone at school or college to being faced with a sea of names for new people from across the country and the world. It is certainly a very exciting time for students, but can also be a bit daunting.
But a scheme at the University of Wolverhampton is aiming to introduce students to the higher education environment while they are still at school or college. The Higher Education Modules in Schools (HEMiS) scheme allows sixth form students to collect credits towards degree courses in a range of subjects. They come onto campus once a week and experience lectures and practical sessions – just as they would as a full student.
The modules are open to students from across the Black Country and are run by Education Partnerships at the University. Lisa Gough co-ordinates the scheme, and believes that it is already making a difference to potential students.
“I think the modules open up the option of University to the students, and raise their aspirations. We see them change over the time they spend with us – their confidence grows and they learn so many different skills, and that makes it all worthwhile.”
Students also complete relevant individual and group assignments, to show what they have learnt at the University. For an art and design module they will produce an artefact in glass, ceramics or textiles and students on the design and technology module make a model town to get a taste of town planning. They can expand on knowledge they have gained for their A-Levels, such as in health and social care, or learn a new skill in digital media. As an associate student of the University, they are able to use the facilities including the learning centres and specialist art equipment, which Lisa says students are ‘blown away’ by.
Lisa adds that one of the main benefits is that it enables students to see that a place at university is something they can aim towards and achieve.
“The transition from primary to secondary school is big, but making the move to higher education can be huge. Students may feel there are barriers to coming into higher education, but by studying a university module for a semester they see that the students are just like them. The independent study is a change for them and they do learn a whole new set of skills when they come to university. But they enjoy being treated as an adult and learning in an adult environment,” she says.
Richard Williams is a University of Wolverhampton Business School lecturer, and teaches a HEMiS module in Customer Communication. He has seen the current students’ interest in the subject grow – and some of his group have already applied to the University of Wolverhampton.
“The modules provide students with a great insight into University life and what they can expect when they end up at University. It has certainly inspired them,” he says.
The HEMiS modules have been such a success that there are now plans to expand them to students in Herefordshire and the Wyre Forest. The mode of delivery would need to be adapted, but students would still come onto campus to be a given a real taste of University life. And there is real evidence that students benefit from the experience, as some former participants are now students at the University of Wolverhampton.
If your school or college is interested in finding out more about HEMiS, contact Lisa Gough on tel: 01902 518941 or email: L.Gough@wlv.ac.uk