Higher education transition refers to the move from one educational context to another (e.g. from school to university or one education system to another). It is a process of becoming a university learner – an independent learner.

Many students enter university without an understanding of what their role as learners in higher education is. Learning at school or a different education system is different from learning at a university in the UK because of different teaching styles. At university, students are expected to become independent learners, and study skills training can help them to achieve a learner’s identity.

What are study skills?

A skill is a learned ability rather than an outcome achieved through luck or chance and can, therefore, be relied on securely when you perform an equivalent task again. You can fine-tune skills through practice, feedback, and reflection, just as athletes improve their performance by developing underlying skills in movement, breathing, and pacing.

The term ‘study skills’ refers to a wide range of abilities that enable achievement in your studies. It includes reading and writing in an academic context, keyboarding skills (often called touch-typing), and taking a critical and analytical approach to reading, writing, and listening. Study skills are important because the skills enable you to engage in independent learning.

Independent learning/study

Independent study is a key feature of all university courses. It refers to a process, method, and philosophy of education in which students acquire knowledge through their efforts and develop the ability for inquiry and critical evaluation. Study skills such as academic reading, writing, and critical thinking skills facilitate inquiry and critical evaluation. Each student’s learning preferences are different. Independent study offers freedom of choice on how students approach their learning.

In UK higher education, independent learning accounts for two-thirds of credited study hours (66%). The responsibility for learning in higher education on students is aided by academics and defined by the limits and objectives of their study programme. Students that lack study skills are unable to engage in independent learning and subsequently unable to get the most out of their studies.

Overall, the better your study skills, the easier it is to achieve success in independent learning. Thus, it enables a smooth transition to higher education.