Running successful virtual induction events for new students

If you are running virtual induction events for your students this year, you can use the tips from Student Support and Wellbeing below to ensure you provide the best experience for your students.

Students will soon be joining for the 2020/21 academic year, and many will be new to UCL or new to university life all together. How you deliver your induction events may look different this year, butá you can still provide an informative, engaging series of events for your students even if these are hosted virtually.

If you are planning to run virtual induction events for your new students, thinking about the themes below should help you to organise and manage your events. We recognise that you may have already made significant progress in your planning for this year, but hopefully thinking about these areas even now will ensure you give your students the best possible induction experience.

Content and arrangement

You should aim to have a diverse range of events to engage as wide an audience of students as possible. Depending on the purpose of your event, how you structure it will vary. You may wish use a range of methods including presentations, quizzes, polls, virtual whiteboards and discussions.

Previous events

Think about the events that you or others in your department have run in person that were successful and how these can be adapted to take place virtually.

Find out more about a range of suggested induction events and how they can be run virtually.

Number of attendees

For events that are focused solely on providing information to students, you may wish to join together with other programmes in your department or even other departments in your wider faculty to run sessions together. Events that aim to encourage social interaction between students may be smaller to facilitate socialising. If you want to run an event with a mixture of both large and small group-based activities, you can use breakout rooms in a number of platforms. These provide individuals with a chance to form connections with whoever is in their breakout room, whether it be other students or staff members.


Consider the time limits that you impose for group-based activities and how you manage this. Taking part in small group discussions in breakout rooms gives students an opportunity to interact with their peers, but the time limits placed on these may result in students being cut off from their conversations without sufficient warning to make arrangements to follow up with others in their group. Consider how you will warn students of time limits in their breakout rooms.

A large proportion of our new students will be studying remotely this year. When planning synchronous online events, try your best to consider time zones - you may wish to repeat events more than once at different times to cover different parts of the world.

Find out more about timing considerations and other aspects of planning induction events.


Think about the platforms available for use when planning your event and consider the type of activities you will be doing and what these require. Each platform has different capabilities and you may wish to use certain functions such as a chat room, hand raising abilities and breakout rooms.

Find out more information about the main online platforms used in UCL.


Consider the accessibility needs of your students and the features of the different platforms that you can use. If you’re aware that some new students in your cohort may have specific accessibility needs, you’re welcome to contact the Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing team in Student Support and Wellbeing for advice.

Find out more about digital accessibility guidance using online platforms here.


You can record events which are highly informative for students so that they can refer back to them at a later time or so that international students can watch them at a time that is suitable for them. Ensure you request permission from attendees to record an event before doing so - recording a member of staff presenting should be fine, but recording group discussion with students may not be recommended.

Getting help

The Student Induction Forum is an open space on Microsoft Teams for any UCL staff members involved in welcoming new students. It allows you to receive the latest updates from central teams, share best practice and get your questions answered. The Forum has over 600 members - if you’re involved in student inductions in any way, then please join if you haven’t done so already.

New for this year, we’ve created a set of pages specifically for colleagues supporting student inductions , to help you optimise your virtual induction offering. Please get in touch with us if you have any feedback or suggestions on these pages.

Welcome to UCL app - Guide for New Students September 2020

When planning your induction activities, remember that the Welcome to UCL app’s ’Guide for New Students September 2020’ is available to all our new students and is a very valuable resource. It can not only help students see everything that’s going on in one place, but it can also help reduce the administrative burden on staff, since you can simply direct all your new students to the app and should not need to produce any printed induction schedules for students on campus.

We’re collecting event information for the app through the Student Induction Forum , so if you’re organising events but are not yet a member, please join to submit your event details. Please do get in touch with us should you have any questions about this and we’d be happy to help.

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