Avoiding early dropout with the Starting@WU program
Every year, over 3,500 new students take up a bachelor’s program at WU Vienna.
Every year, over 3,500 new students take up a bachelor’s program at WU Vienna. To make it easier for them to begin their studies at one of Europe’s largest business and economics universities, WU provides special onboarding services for first-semester students as part of the Starting@WU program. More advanced students guide small groups of beginners through their first few months at WU, showing that size and quality, including individual support, are not mutually exclusive. All this helps to keep students from feeling anonymous and overwhelmed, and to avoid early dropout.
WU’s Welcome Tutors actively contact the new students directly after admission and invite them to the WU Welcome Days, the information and welcome event for new bachelor’s students on Campus WU. As Margarethe Rammerstorfer, WU Vice-Rector for Academic Programs and Student Affairs, points out, “By eliminating the need to sign up for the Welcome Days, we have reduced another barrier. This means that all new students can now familiarize themselves with WU before starting their degree program and get to know their fellow students in a small group setting. I’m very pleased that this program was so well received this year and that I was able to welcome so many first-semester students personally to our campus.”
Interest in welcome activities greater than expected
At the Welcome Days, the new students received valuable information for getting off to a good start in their studies, learned about WU’s services, and were given tips on how to achieve good and fast academic progress. At the end, all groups were invited to have breakfast together, and WU Manager of the Year Christopher Schläffer, CEO of the communications company NYOUM, gave a keynote speech on the topic of innovation. This year, WU’s welcome events attracted above-average numbers of participants. The first-year students were also informed about the other Starting@WU services available: the First Steps program, with a total of five info sessions on study-related topics held during the winter semester, and the First Year Communities (FYC), where first-year students have the opportunity to acquire project management skills together with fellow students and apply what they have learned by implementing a meaningful project in small groups.
Offering guidance to avoid dropout
Many students are worried about the high level of self-organization that studying at a university requires. As WU Rector Hanappi-Egger points out, “This is especially true for people who are the first of their family to take up a degree program at a university. To keep them from feeling overwhelmed and dropping out prematurely, we offer well-targeted, personalized support services through WU’s counselling programs.” At the end of September, WU will for example host a panel discussion entitled Wellbeing matters@WU, where experts will be discussing the importance of wellbeing and mental health at university.
Among this year’s first-semester students, there are seven people who are beginning their studies at WU with the support of WU4You scholarships. This scholarship program, which was launched at the initiative of the Rector in 2016, is aimed at high-potential students from low-income families in Austria.