Initiative updates

Student and Retention Success Project - October, 2017

The Student Retention and Success Committee would like to welcome Professor Andy Smith, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) to the SRS team. The SRS Initiative and the SRS Committee now fall under the portfolio of and report to Professor Smith.

SRS Strategic Plan 2018-2020 underway. The current strategic plan is currently under review with the development of the 2018-2020 plan taking place. As with the original plan, university wide feedback will be sought prior to the plan being submitted to Council for their endorsement. The plan will focus on retention priorities, with achievable strategies and measurable outcomes.

2016 student attrition interim figures to be released. Yearly attrition is a measure of the proportion of students who have not completed their studies and do not return to the University the subsequent year. Students who enrol past census date in any semester across the academic year are included in the student count. Given the most populous 2017 semesters have now passed census dates, it is possible to calculate an interim yearly attrition figure for 2016, i.e students who studied in 2016 that did not return this year. Student Retention and Success Data Briefing #9 will soon be released to provide an early analysis of the interim yearly attrition figures for key areas. This data briefing, alongside updated analytic dashboards, will be published on the SRS data webpage.

Associate Deans promoting Student Success Plans. ADSRS are currently working across the university and within their own faculties on education, awareness and uptake of student success plans as a streamlined process for students who present as at risk. The success plan replaces the intervention strategy process and has been adapted to be more student centred, and is easier to follow, implement and monitor. The ADSRS believe that reviewing and improving processes that allow students to progress through their programs of study are key to their success.

New initiatives focus on yearly attrition. As our data indicates that we have an attrition hotspot for yearly attrition, meaning that we have students who complete a year (or two) of study with us and then fail to return to study the following year. As a result of identifying this hotspot, the team is liaising with appropriate areas to develop a range of initiatives to improve retention in this area. These include; contact with academic staff/appointments (Faculty staff), student Christmas card (PR), career advice focusing on relevant work and volunteer experience (Careers), and a possible summer series of lectures featuring staff and Alumni (marketing). If you have any ideas on how FedUni can engage students over the summer break please Initiative Coordinator, Kim Ferguson.

BOLD Showcase focuses on Student Retention and Success. The theme for this year’s CLIPP BOLD Showcase is Student Retention and Success. The theme will cover ideas around using BOLD methods to increase student retention, both in the blended and fully online environments. We will be showcasing innovative examples and case studies from colleagues within the university, plus a mixture of emerging technologies and new ideas. The showcase will take please on Thursday 9th November, 2017. To register for the showcase click here.

Enrolments encouraged for 2018. Emails and phone calls have commenced from the Admissions, Student Retention and Success team, along with SMSs sent to students to encourage early enrolment for 2018. The aim is for current students to enrol in their next year of study as soon as possible. Students who are due to return from a leave from studies, and due to return from a deferment were also contacted to let them know what they need to do in order to recommence their studies in 2018.

Collaborative call campaign offers motivational support. The Admissions, Retention and Success team, in collaboration with the Student Futures team, conducted calls to online and flexible delivery students as a check-in on their studies. Those students who indicated they were struggling, or in need of extra support were sent personalised, motivational messages from the Student Futures Team. Feedback from previous, similar motivational campaigns have shown that these students appreciate the additional encouragement, understand that we were here to support them and help them succeed and creates a stronger sense of belonging.

Student Career Development and Employment sees placement success. 2017 has seen 47 students complete their Industry Placement Program placements, with 12 students commencing placements over the coming months which will be completed in the first half of 2018. Several students from the inaugural intake of students at the Ballarat campus have been offered a role with their host organisation for 2018, a reflection of their study success. A reminder to staff and students that the Careers and Employment service is available for face to face, phone and virtual appointments during the Summer lecture break. To make an appointment log on at federation.edu.au/careerhub

HDR Research Conference held at Mt Helen Campus. Research Services held its annual conference at the end of July with 77 HDR candidates and approximately 160 attendees. HDR candidature is notorious for its ability to see candidates socially isolated.  The Annual Research Conference provides one of the few opportunities for HDR candidates from across FedUni campuses and discipline areas to come together to interact and network. The conference created a great atmosphere of inclusion, which can be vital for those studying remotely or who may be feeling alone on campus.

Research Services collecting feedback from HDR student cohort. On November the 8th, along with a free lunch, will be an opportunity for reflective discussion from FedUni HDR candidates. The lunch marks the end of the training year and gives candidates another valuable opportunity to come together and network. Research Services have also just closed the 2017 Student Evaluation of Postgraduate Program (SEPP), which should give some insight into the student experience and identify areas that require attention. The luncheon discussion will be used to further identify issues, problems and successes in the HDR space, all with the aim of improving our student experiences.

Phase two of the Unified Communication project funded. In July, the RUN Network approved funding for FedUni’s proposed project to implement a second phase to our successful Unified Communication project. The purpose of continuing work on this project is to enhance awareness of, and increase use of the Writing Style Guide as a way to improve student engagement, retention and success. To that end, Amy Barnhouse, Associate Dean SRS (FBS) and Julie Howes, Communications Officer, have begun to:

  • Develop self-paced online training modules for professional and academic staff,
  • Deliver training modules and materials (Writing Style Guide and Quick Reference Guide) across all FedUni campuses and onshore partner provider locations,
  • Provide training modules and materials to all RUN universities:
    - Pilot initial training modules and Writing Style Guide with RUN universities upon completion,

    - Enhance training modules and materials based on feedback from RUN universities after pilot.

Resources required for next year’s courses. Staff are being advised that the list of first semester courses are being finalised for the Service Now resource system. This means that teaching resources (text books, e-reading materials, software requirements) need to be identified by course coordinators. Early identification enables earlier release of book lists, which has been previously identified as an indicator to students of our preparedness to teach them. Access to textbooks allows students to prepare for their classes before the term begins, improving their overall study experience and success.

Staff encouraged to schedule review sessions. As we approach SWOTVAC, academic staff are encouraged to schedule review sessions with their students to aid in their exam preparation. If you intend to deliver review sessions, you must reserve rooms through the standard room booking portal. The weekly theme for Week 12 is “Re-read, revise, review … it’s the final countdown!” More information on weekly themes, and advice to support students at this critical time can be found here.

Attrition strategies with partner providers being discussed. Pro-Vice Chancellor (International and Partnerships) Jessie Harman is continuing to have discussions with partners around strategies to lower attrition rates. Partners feel confident that the introduction of supplementary assessment policy will have a positive impact, and International and Partnerships will monitor this to evaluate the outcomes. They will also include a focus on student attrition at the upcoming Partner Forum scheduled for 10 & 11 December 2017.

For any suggestions or ideas on generating student success, please do not hesitate to contact Initiative Coordinator, Kim Ferguson.