UCT’s First-Year Experience is not a service or a centre; rather, it is a shared value system that prioritises the all-round wellbeing of first-years. It is a collective effort to help first-year students to adapt to university life and develop a strong sense of belonging at UCT.
Since the appointment of Dr Danielle Fontaine-Rainen as director of the First-Year Experience (FYE), with support from the Teaching Development Grant (TDG), considerable work has gone into strengthening engagement with all faculties to identify common FYE components that can be implemented across campus, while promoting certain components in particular faculties.
Supporting students throughout their first year is crucial, but in order to achieve success, first-years need to play an active role in their own development and must access the support that is available.
These values underpin the FYE programmes, including the following:
FYE spearheads the help desk and ‘tech buddy’ service during O-Week. Orientation leaders staff the help desks at various points across campus to help with queries on services and directions. The tech buddies provide digital literacy assistance in undergraduate computer labs, including help with VULA (the UCT online learning platform), PeopleSoft (the UCT online admin system), student email accounts and using Microsoft Word.
Early Assessment allows faculties to monitor students’ early academic progress. The assessment is based on grades from mid-semester tests and assignments and signals whether students should visit the student advisors in their faculty. These advisors will consult with struggling students and offer advice about the specific support services available.
Talks and workshops
Workshops provide both academic and non-academic support, covering topics like writing skills, stress and financial management, and exam preparation. Once registered, students will be able to refer to the online learning system, Vula, for more information about these workshops, and to access further electronic resources.
Students can stay in touch with the First-Year Experience on social media: