In this talk, Dr Julie Hulme, shared her experience when she started university and how she felt like ‘fish out of water’. During the talk the audience shared similar experiences and we also heard of ‘duck to water’ experiences. Transitions from secondary school to higher education come with a variety of challenges – and new students may be more or less prepared for them. There are things that universities can do to make the transition smoother, but individual lecturers can play a vital role during those transitions, too.

We also discussed the importance for students to see where their lecturers came from and what they were able to achieve. Many encountered hurdles along the way and being transparent about this can help students during their own transitions.

Julie also presented research she conducted that identifies different factors that contribute to challenges during transitions.

We had teachers from both primary and secondary schools in the audience, too, and some raised the importance to take a closer look into the transition between primary and secondary schools too.

All materials can be found in this post.


The session will focus on the issues that face students during the transition to university, and as they move on through their education, and will reflect on the experiences of diverse students through a psychological lens. We will explore some practical ways to help students to successfully navigate transitions, and also consider whether it is helpful to “problematise” transitions, or to consider them as a normal part of the student (and human) life experience. 

About the speaker:

Dr Julie Hulme is a Reader in Psychology at Keele University, UK. A National Teaching Fellow, and Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA), she applies psychology to learning, teaching, assessment, and inclusion in higher education. Julie’s own experiences as a mature student helped her to recognise the importance of transition to university, and of skills and confidence for successful university study. She strives to create engaging learning opportunities which help all students to achieve their aspirations. Julie’s teaching emphasises the application of psychology to everyday life (psychological literacy), facilitating students to apply psychology to their personal, professional, and societal goals.