SHOULDERS OF GIANTS
King's College London
At the start of every academic year King's College London enrols and registers thousands of new undergraduate and post graduate students - all within the first week before the start of the new academic year. It can be a fraught time for new students, moving to London, making new friends, and getting to know where they need to be before term starts.
In addition, new students have to enrol and register. King's have to stagger the arrival of its new student intake and guide them through a welcoming process tailored to the different requirements of each student. If this is not done properly, mistakes are made that could impact on the commencement of a student's studies. The challenge for King's enrolment team is to speedily deal with the new intake without the students feeling that they are being processed.
Atelier were appointed to the task because of our extensive wayfinding experience; the students have to be guided through a building, into and out of different administration rooms, and then led out to the exit. And it shouldn't take more than an hour or a student's first impression of their new university will be tarnished from the start.
We spent quite some time understanding the enrolment process, the different types of students that had to be enrolled, and we tried to imagine what might be going through a new student's head when arriving at university for the first time, (quite a few things have changed since we were there). With only a 13% acceptance rate, our first thought was that getting into King's was in itself a special achievement. New students were about embark on an academic challenge in one of the top 25 universities in the world, walking the corridors and sitting in lecture rooms with the finest minds. Our alumni frieze (see University Alumni), will have undoubtedly set the bar for them.
So why we thought, was it that these special students have to be herded through a campus building? Surely we could make enrolment and registration a welcoming experience, perhaps even a celebratory one. King's College London is the 4th oldest university in England, founded by King George IV and the Duke of Wellington. Many pioneers of the 19th and 20th Century taught at King's; Charles Lyell (founder of modern geology), Charles Wheatstone (inventor of the electric telegraph), James Clerk Maxwell (Einstein's predecessor in electromagnetism), Florence Nightingale (instigator of training for nurses), and Joseph Lister ('father of modern medicine'), are but a few of a long list of alumni that also include 12 Nobel laureates. Evidently, King's is infused by the work of giants.
And so we developed an inspiring proposition for newly arriving students; they were about to 'climb in the shoulders of giants'. What better way of both celebrating and underlining the special achievement of gaining admission to King's?
This was the message that greeted students when they first arrived at their new campuses. Entrances were furbished with welcoming graphics, student ambassadors wore matching T shirts, banners and wall graphics guided the students around the building and through each step of the process.
Merlin Harries, Assessment & Records Centre, King's College London