The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has launched a First-Year Experience @ Residence (FYE) Program – a new initiative in residence halls that aims to smooth first-year students’ transition and adaptation to a new university life, and to engage freshmen in residential hall activities to foster an inclusive and caring learning environment.
This pilot program is part of the University’s continuing efforts to enhance students’ residential life experience. Some 500 first-year students, of whom about a quarter are non-local students, will be offered a full year of on-campus residence. During when they will be taken care of by senior students called SUG (senior undergraduate) mentors, who will take the lead in helping hall mates bond and help freshmen familiarized themselves with the new environment.
All first-year students are now guaranteed hall residence for one semester, upon implementation of this program, the University will eventually ensure all new undergraduates have at least a year of stay in the student hostels on campus.
HKUST Dean of Students Dr Robert Wessling said, “I believe the process of education extends beyond the classroom – residential life plays an important role in each student’s university education, it is the source of friendship, socializing, academic and emotional support. I hope our newcomers could better adapt to their new life at HKUST through our new program, and that they could build long-lasting friendships, learn to value and respect differences, and harness the richness of ideas and perspectives for the benefit of the whole community.”
The University has provided training to 69 SUG mentors, covering mental health awareness, leadership and personal development skills. Each mentor will lead six to eight freshmen, whose composition is carefully planned to ensure diversity. These mentors, who themselves come from different schools and a variety of student teams and organizations, will guide their mentees through their personal, social and academic concerns, and bridge them to residence masters – faculty members who tailor programs for each hall, or to other channels when necessary. Mentoring groups will also form different learning communities and clusters among themselves to maximize the peer support.
A study published in the Journal of College Student Development has shown that students involved in residential life community similar to FYE program have significantly higher levels of involvement in student societies and extracurricular activities (about 15% more), interaction with peers and faculty (about 5 to 10% more), as well as integration and gains in academic knowledge and intellectual development, than those who only reside in traditional residential halls without participating in such program.
The program was kick started last week with HKUST's first-ever university-led orientation camp. Participants had a great time during the two-day camp as they mingled in games, campus tour, sharing and outings including boat trip and barbecue night.
About The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) (https://hkust.edu.hk/) is a world-class research university that focuses on science, technology and business as well as humanities and social science. HKUST offers an international campus, and a holistic and interdisciplinary pedagogy to nurture well-rounded graduates with global vision, a strong entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking. HKUST attained the highest proportion of internationally excellent research work in the Research Assessment Exercise 2014 of Hong Kong’s University Grants Committee, and is the world’s second in the latest QS’ Top 50 under 50 ranking. Its graduates were ranked 13th worldwide and top in Greater China in Global Employability University Survey 2016.
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