The first-year experience in higher education has been the topic of research and comment in English-language academic publications in the UK and worldwide for more than forty years. The expansion of higher education has led to an increased requirement to support the diverse student population, a possible reason for an increasing concern with the first-year experience.
This literature review aims to consider the research literature and institutional 'grey material' exploring the undergraduate and postgraduate first-year experience and to identify key emerging issues to inform university policy makers, practitioners, researchers and other interested parties.
In this review 'first year' refers to the first-year of study of an undergraduate or postgraduate student in a higher education institution. Almost all the published literature refers to students in their first year of undergraduate study. The available published literature was extensive, around 750 publications were reviewed and there are 545 different citations in the final report. Additionally over 200 institutional grey items were reviewed in an additional close-up study of the first-year material generated by four UK institutions.