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Welcome Week 2020: FAQs for staff

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What will Welcome look like this year?

The Welcome team are working together with the Reading University Students' Union (RUSU) to develop a varied programme of welcome activities over intake period from Tuesday 15 September and during Welcome Week itself from Monday 21 September. We have been planning a blended welcome with key activities hosted online and the opportunity for school social activities to be face to face. We are also keen for central activities to be available throughout the first term instead of concentrating on the initial week, these may be face-to-face or virtual depending on the situation. Students will also be able to pick up their campus cards and use the campus to meet friends and socialise using socially distanced measures. We are closely monitoring the evolving government advice and will keep you updated on changes and developing guidance. RUSU are also planning a range of events, on campus and online.

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What will campus look like this year?

With appropriate social distancing measures in place, we are planning for the following to be on campus during Welcome week:

  • Enrolment to start from Tuesday 15 September in the Palmer building. 
  • Campus Tours led by student ambassadors
  • A smaller scale food market on certain days
  • RUSU physical presence
  • Gazebos: Careers and RUSU
  • DTS support in the Library

Which Welcome Week activities will be online this year?

Key academic events including the Head of School and Head of Department talks will be hosted online. We are also recommending that Academic Tutor meetings take place online during Welcome week.  Schools will have the option to host social activities face-to-face or online and will be provided with more guidance on running activities on campus.

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Which Welcome Week activities will be face to face?

Schools have the choice and responsibility of running face-to-face social activities. We have provided further details and guidance on how this is best managed, including the need to prepare for any changes in external guidance that mean face-to-face sessions are no longer possible. 

RUSU is also planning a programme of online and face-to-face activities with further information on their website

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What will enrolment look like?

As is the case every year, students will need to complete the online enrolment task on RISIS and finish the process by showing their ID and picking up their campus card from the Palmer Building. We are working closely with UPP to ensure that collection will be staggered and developing relevant queuing systems.

Once students pick up their cards, they will have access to their IT accounts and all university systems.

This year we are developing the process to allow students to enrol at a distance, for those who cannot be on campus at the start of term.

Enrolment will take place from Tuesday 15 September to Friday 25 September (inclusive of weekends) in the Palmer building from 9:30 to 17:30. Between Monday 28 September to Friday 16 October (non-inclusive of weekends) students will be able to enrol in person by visiting Palmer G02 between 9:30 to 16:30.

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Will students who are ‘at a distance' still be able to enrol and access their email?

Yes the systems are being developed to allow for this.

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How will students who haven't enrolled yet access key information?

The Applicant Engagement Team and RISIS team will continue to send communications to personal email addresses until a student becomes ‘current' and has access to their IT accounts once they finalise enrolment. We will also be making all online events open access so students who haven't completed the process can join.

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What platform do we recommend for Head of School or Head of Department talks?

The Welcome Team recommend using Teams LIVE for events over 300 students as it has a maximum of 10,000 attendees and also provides live auto captions which is currently unavailable with Blackboard collaborate.

Teams LIVE will also be open access via an event link so students who have not yet enrolled will be able to access these sessions.

If schools want to use a Teams meeting (not Teams LIVE) they will need to ensure that there will be less than 300 attendees in total. Schools will need to set up this meeting if they decide on this approach.

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How will the central Welcome team support schools in delivering the Head of School talk?

For Teams LIVE events the Welcome team will set up the event and provide training and practice sessions. The running and management of it on the day will need to come from Schools.  

Head of School or Department virtual events should be recorded. Schools can send the link to the Welcome team and we will make sure it is uploaded on the Welcome website for students to view if they miss the live session.

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What will the Module Information Fair look like this year?

In consultation with Schools we have decided not to hold a virtual Module Open Fair this year. Instead students will be directed to information on Essentials. The Student Comms team are working on a ‘how to select your module choice' video too and we will share this with colleagues when it is ready.

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Will students be getting personalised Welcome timetables this year?

Unfortunately, we will be unable to provide personalised Welcome timetables to students this year. All social events will be on the University of Reading Events App and we will be working with Schools to host a School timetable on the Welcome website so students will know about these scheduled activities in advance.

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How will Welcome week information be communicated to students?  

The Student Comms team are developing a comprehensive Welcome website on Essentials. This will include key information for returning students as well as new students.

Students will also be encouraged to download the University of Reading events app. This will host all non-School based activities including face-to-face and virtual links, as well as RUSU events.

Each School or Department will have the opportunity to create a School based timetable which will be hosted on Essentials.  The Welcome team will input all information we are aware of and will ask schools to approve and edit accordingly.

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Can Schools contact incoming students directly?

The Applicant Engagement team manage all communications for incoming students prior to enrolment. Please contact them using,.  

Please note that the Applicant Engagement team are receiving an unusually high number of requests for additional email sends to offer-holders at this time.

If you are getting in touch to request a new email to offer-holders, please allow at least seven working days between your query being raised and the email being sent out. Please note that there may also be changes to scheduling due to further communications about COVID-19 and/or the University's plans for September.

If you are requesting a new email, please remember to include the following information in your request:

  • Subject line
  • Any imagery to include
  • Who the email should be sent 'from' (this should be both the signatory and the email address it will go from)

You can see the Applicant Engagement Team's communications plan for pre-arrival and Welcome Week 2020 in this guide.

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Will STAR mentors be available to support social activities during Welcome week?

We have had a record number of students apply to be STAR mentors. They will be shown how to use Blackboard Collaborate. Schools will receive a list of mentors in their school and will be able to contact them to support with any social activities. We will not be able to guarantee that students will be available for campus events as this will depend on their individual situation.

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Will Study Smart still be available?

Yes and improved.  New Part 1 and Foundation students coming to study at Reading will receive their invitation to take our successful online course, Study Smart, by email on 1 September. This online transition to university course, developed exclusively for Reading students by the Study Advice and Online Courses teams, is now in its fourth run. This year it is being updated to reflect the blended ways students will be studying this autumn and will include advice on: engaging in webinars, getting the most out of online lectures, using our digital tools, and managing study time.

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Will Study Smart be available for returning and PGT students?

We are also developing a resource for our returning UG students. We will explore whether the resource is suitable for PG students and will look at alternative options for this cohort if not. We recognise that all our students will require information and reassurance about the methods of teaching and studying this Autumn. We will be considering:

  • Advice on how to study effectively in the blended learning environment. This includes engaging in webinars, online lectures, group work etc.
  • Communicating and researching online
  • Developing digital literacy and capabilities
  • Offering guidance on digital tools and technologies
  • Advance study skills, such as critical note taking
  • Highlighting the support services available

I still have questions - who should I ask?

The Welcome Team regularly email their Welcome contacts within Schools with the latest information and have a comprehensive Teams channel. We are also hosting regular ‘Welcome drop ins' to discuss good practice and update schools on the latest developments.  For access to the Teams channel and the date of the next drop in please contact: Kate Booth:

For any further questions please email Kate Booth (Student Engagement Manager (Transitions & Belonging)) or Anne-Marie Henderson (Director of Student Success and Engagement):

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