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HeadStart aims to support students with their transition into studying in higher education and is a 3 day induction before ‘Welcome Week for students who are from groups (such as mature students). HeadStart provides students with the opportunity of meeting individuals from different services around the university, giving HeadStarters a strong sense of support services they can access during their time here at Brunel. The Academic Skills team run study skills sessions that are embedded throughout and students are grouped based on their college for a more personalised outlook on what lies in store for the rest of their academic year.

HeadStart helps these students to:
  • Learn more about University life, for their personal and learning needs
  • Meet other new students who might be in similar situations to them outside of university
  • Gain a clear insight into the level of work expected at university and the study skills support available
  • Experience the social side of university through sport and other social activities.
Examples of Sessions During HeadStart
  • Assignments: How do I get Started? (Academic Skills Team)
  • Handling Pressure (Counselling Service)
  • Understanding Blackboard and Timetabling (Digital Education Team and Timetabling Team)
  • How can I Make Use of my Lectures and Reading? (Academic Skills Team)
As well as changes in the style of learning in higher education, you will be exposed to new administrative and teaching structures.

In terms of technical and administrative systems, you will use the University’s Virtual Learning Environment Blackboard Learn and to access your student record, change details or module selection, this can be accessed by the eVision portal.

Aside from teaching modules, academic staff also play vital roles in organising their School or Department by working on administrative committees or managing research institutions. They may also have more formal roles such as ‘Senior Tutor’ or ‘Head of School’ which involve a large commitment. Being a lecturer is a varied and interesting job, but it can be very demanding. Most importantly, lecturers have a passion for their subject and love working with students who share that passion.

Studying at university will require you to develop your academic skills, from learning how to be self-motivated and work independently to learning how to process complex information and write in an 'academic' style.

Throughout your time at Brunel, you will be given numerous opportunities to develop these skills through your courses, assessments and through extra-curricular activities. However, it is up to you to work hard to be the person you want to be when you leave!

Studying in higher education won't be a completely new thing as you bring with you a wealth of experience of studying from school and college. However, there are certain key things that might feel different including:

Greater Flexibility

You will have many more choices to make at university, from the modules you take to assignment titles for your coursework. This is empowering, but it can also be overwhelming, so it is important that you think carefully about the choices you make and talk them over with others – your family, friends, and tutors.

Independent Learning

You are responsible for your success at university, and much of that depends on how you use your spare time. This is often the biggest challenge students face when they look at their timetable and realise that there is a lot of space for independent study. Some people find it useful to form study groups – this makes your learning social and helps keep you accountable. It is also important to keep on top of your time management and learn to understand feedback that is given.

Wider Scope

You will be asked to delve into much greater detail with your study topics, and you will need to think in new ways and make connections across ideas and theories in your field. Tutors will expect more sophisticated academic writing, and your essays will have higher word counts. Also, you will find that you are given different types of assignments, such as group work or presentations. For the most part, the transition will be gradual and one you are more than capable of taking on.


It is called ‘reading for a degree’ for a reason, because on most courses you will be given a reading list setting out essential and recommended books and journal articles. Familiarise yourself with the Library and catalogue early so that you can easily find the information you need. You will be expected to read critically, meaning that you should question what you read and not take everything at face value.


You will encounter many new terms and abbreviations in your first weeks, and the Brunel Higher Education Glossary can help you understand words and phrases associated with university that can be confusing for new students.


Hear current Brunel students give their 'one piece of advice' for new students. For more student advice videos, see ASK Academic Skills' YouTube Channel.