Welcoming New Students
Each year around 580,000 students begin undergraduate studies at UK universities. Around 80% move to a new city to embark on their studies. In other words, each autumn a group the size of the population of Liverpool relocates to start a uni chapter in their lives.
The priority for most is to make friends.
Most are heading to cities where they don’t know anyone. And because everyone is in the same situation, the early weeks of term are an intense time of friendship-building. Most new students will strike up and establish more long-lasting friendships during this short period than at any other time in their life.
CUs exist to give students the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel. So as new students are forming habits that set the tone for their time at uni, CUs can begin to provide a setting in which new students can engage with the gospel – especially in the context of ongoing face-to-face friendship that outlasts the busy early weeks of term. Many new students’ heads may feel too full to give spiritual things much thought in freshers’ week. But friendships formed early on can provide concrete ongoing opportunities to hear and engage with the gospel.
The start of the year is also a key time to serve newly-arriving Christian students. Moving to uni breaks old routines and prompts new students to reconsider what they truly value. Many who have grown up in church are deciding whether they want to make faith their own at uni. CUs should aim to give Christian students the best possible start to their time at uni – including finding a church, settling into the CU and building habits that will help them flourish as they live and speak for Jesus.
All new students are in transition. All are looking to make friends. Many may never be more open to Christian love and witness as students than as they transition into uni life. Your CU has the potential to transform the university experience ahead for many new students coming to your city.
Serving new students well requires thought and effort. In our brand new guide to welcoming new students, we’re exploring why and how to make the most of new student outreach as a CU.
We’d love to hear how you’re already reaching out to new students! Share your ideas on social media – and don’t forget to tag UCCF and #CUNews. And if you come across ideas that you’d like to try at your uni, take them back to your CU and Staff Worker and work out together how you can make it work for your context.
These blog posts are adapted from UCCF’s new resource for CU leaders: Welcoming new students to your university, written by Peter Dray, who has years of experience in student and CU ministry and currently serves as our Head of Creative Evangelism. Download the full guide below.
Get ready to welcome!