Every year, the Student Affairs team at the University of Westminster, with the University of Westminster Students’ Union, run the Great Start Project, an event to ensure that the new students have the best possible start to their new university experience.
Each new student will get a personal welcome to the University during orientation week from one of our Friends of Arriving New Students (FANS). Every year, around 200 returning students from all campuses and courses are recruited onto the project to become FANS. Throughout August and September FANS are trained to ensure they have all the right tools and knowledge to help induct new students into university life.
FANS are allocated a group of first year undergraduate students who they guide through the first two weeks of life at Westminster. The FANS help to make sure that new students don't miss any essential course-based inductions and they also run tours of the facilities, pass on useful information and plan social events.
Roshan Johnson, a current Sociology student and 2016 FAN, spoke about their experience: “I think the overall FAN role was very good as we got to meet new students that not only are in their first year studying a course that we are studying; but also current students from the University who are studying different courses to you. It was also good fun to encourage new students at the University who are going through similar, if not the same fears as us.”
The project, which has been running since 2012, is supervised by staff and current students.
First year Interior Architecture BA Honours student Caroline Dew said: “FANS were so helpful and sweet. It was nice to have students as well as lecturers welcome us and be there to answer questions from a perspective closer to ours. Appreciate the help!”
Film Student Zeynep praised the programme by saying: “Thank you (FANS) so much for all your support! You were all very welcoming; even though I've only been here for two weeks, I feel like I know this place and the people I met here for a long time. If the second-year students need any help, I would love to volunteer in their work so feel free to put me in touch with them. I hope to see you on campus.”
The Great Start Project benefits the whole university community, not just new and current students: “They created an amazing, welcoming atmosphere,” commented Professor Harry Charrington, Head of Department of Architecture.
The Project is organised and supported by Nima Takodra, the Great Start Project Manager, and Aitor Gonzalo-Alonso, Student Affairs Department Manager.