Bill Johnston, coordinator for Strathclyde University's centre for academic practice, called for more research into the experience of first-year students.
Mr Johnston said North American institutions had pioneered organised induction programmes for first-years. They were concerned with retaining students as well as recruiting them and had an approach of "let's make sure this is a good deal", he said.
"They are inducting them into the ways of the university and helping them to adjust rather than simply saying 'you are young adults, get on with it'."
Mr Johnston said that similar moves in the UK had tended to be driven by teaching and learning initiatives, focusing largely on academic work, and were at a departmental or faculty level rather than institution-wide.