To do so, they arrange a large number of events in the first few weeks of a new academic year especially targeted on the new students. The bulk of these happen in the first week in what is knows as “Freshers’ Week” pretty well everywhere. Events during Freshers’ Week are many and varied and range from sporting extravaganzas to nights out in local clubs. Some are arranged by the University administrative people while others are arranged by the Students Union and / or Union-affiliated clubs for as diverse a range of interests and activities as Tae-Kwon-Do, Chess and Badminton. But they all have one thing in common. They are organised across the university as a whole.
Yet one of the key aspects of settling into student life is getting to know the lecturers, staff and especially the fellow students on that student’s chosen degree course. Most faculties want their students to feel part of the faculty and degree course. Increasingly these days, in response to the call to provide students with skills that will be useful in industry, much of the work that they will do will be within teams of fellow students. So getting to know one another within a course is correspondingly important. Yet the reality is that it is much easier for a new student to get to know the people in his or her hall of residence or those that live near to his or her own student digs than it is with those on the same course. To counteract this, and assist in the process of making new students feel part of something, faculties employ a number of different approaches.
Nearly all, for example, will arrange a cheese and wine evening or similar to allow students to mix in a social setting. Some will also encourage students to display their loyalties with branded clothing. And those that are running degree subjects that have – or can have – a foreign connection, they will arrange trips abroad. There are obvious subjects, such as Geography-related topics, that are more likely to do this. Others have slightly more tenuous links. For example, Civil Engineering courses might offer a trip to see a particular, impressive structure, such as a bridge, in far away places as an excuse to allow time for the students to get to know one another in an unusual setting. The bridge, in my example, is an excuse – albeit a relevant one – for the group to spend time together.
But whatever it is they do and wherever it is that they do it, the intention is always to help the students settle in to their degree course and get to know their fellow students. Actually, that’s not entirely true. They usually also want to impart useful team working skills so that the students not only know one another and feel part of the course but gain some skills to enable them to work on team projects. Yet often this last objective gets lost along the way.
Progressive departments these days are turning to professional team building activities to achieve all three. And they offer two big advantages. Firstly, they do achieve all three. That is, fundamental to the activity is a comprehensive debriefing session that enable students to learn new team oriented skills that they will find useful as they progress through their careers. Secondly, they achieve more at a much reduced cost. Universities always have more than adequate facilities to host such sessions themselves and the cost of bringing in a professional team building company is considerably less than sending the same group of students to Germany or wherever for a few days. Plus, the burden of welfare for such an active group is considerably less!
The author’s company, Sandstone Limited, have a number of team building activities that are ideally suited to student groups.
Their client list is impressive and it includes a number of Universities in the UK. You can chat with them on 01158 715690 to discuss your group’s needs.