Entry to University at a Time of COVID-19: How Using a Pre-arrival Academic Questionnaire Informed Support for New First-year Students at Leeds Beckett University.


  • Susan Smith
  • Janice Priestley
  • Michelle Morgan University of East London
  • Laura Ettenfield
  • Ruth Pickford



In the summer of 2020, academic and professional service managers at Leeds Beckett University (LBU), were mindful that the upcoming academic year was going to be challenging in terms of teaching and tailored support delivery, as a result of the uncertainty created by COVID-19. We knew that many of our incoming students had experienced disruption in their learning at school or college, and we wanted to support and maximise their potential for success at university in these uncertain times. Through previous work relating to the need to support student transitions, we already understood the importance of pre-arrival academic experience data in helping to create a seamless bridging of the gap between secondary and tertiary education. We knew it would become even more critical in Autumn 2020, due to the impact of the pandemic on student learning in schools and colleges. We were aware that the prior learning experience and challenges of our diverse incoming student body would need to shape our response, strategy, and policy in 2020/21 and beyond.

As a result, we decided to pilot a pre-arrival academic questionnaire across a small number of courses that included questions on the impact of COVID-19 on our incoming students’ prior learning. It offers broad headline findings from the data on two key questions:

  • How can we understand incoming students’ levels of anxiety after studying at school or college in lockdown?
  • Are students experienced in learning digitally at school or college before they come to university, and did COVID-19 affect this?
  • This case study explores our institutional response to COVID-19 and how we used the PAQ to inform our action






Reflections, Journeys and Case Studies