Initiative updates

Student and Retention Success Project - August, 2017

The university-wide Retention and Success (SRS) Initiative continues to focus, develop and coordinate a range of initiatives to support our students and arrest attrition.

Analysis of Semester 1 attrition shows improvement. At FedUni, student attrition data is analysed over two key periods: Yearly Attrition, which captures students who do not return in the following year and have not completed their program, and Semester Attrition, identifying students who drop all of their studies within a semester. FedUni Semester 1 experienced a Semester Attrition rate of 5.1%, with 412 students withdrawing from all of their courses during this period. This represents a slight reduction of 0.1% (i.e. improved retention) from the same period last year.

It is important to note that this Semester 1 analysis excludes international partner providers. The Student Retention and Success Data Briefing #6 has now been released and provides the latest analysis of our Semester 1 student attrition. The briefing is accessible via the staff only data page on the SR&S website.

FedReady Fridays pilot ready to run. To help meet the practical transition needs of commencing students, Student Futures has partnered with the Faculty of Education and Arts and the School of Business to pilot the FedReady Fridays program which commences during check in week this semester. The student centred program will take place during the non-teaching period (Friday mornings) to enable all students to attend. It contains 3 streams: writing essentials (such as essay writing and proofreading), study essentials (time management and goal setting), and digital essentials (Moodle, email, mySC, Adobe Connect, etc.). FedReady Fridays is open to all students and will be delivered by staff from across FedUni including Library, Faculty, Careers, and CLIPP. Attendance via Adobe Connect will also be available for students unable to attend in person. For more information contact Ryan Parker.

FUNS launched to offer support to nursing students. The Faculty of Health and the Associate Dean, Student Retention and Success Andrew Smith, have supported the development of FedUni Nursing Society (FUNS) which is a peer run group, engaging nursing students across all year levels at the Gippsland campus. Students had identified some gaps in students support specific for nursing and researched what other universities were doing, determining that student run peer support groups were a positive solution. The majority of FUNS members have been involved in the Student Futures mentor program and want to offer their skills and support to other students. The group will start with a casual "meet for a cuppa once a week", there will also be fundraising for charities in the future and a number of social events are in the planning. There are also plans to launch similar groups on the Berwick and Mt Helen Campuses in future.

FBS adopt Student Success Plans across the board. As of Semester 2, 2017 FBS now utilises the Student Success Plans function within fdlGrades at all campuses, online and at partner providers as part of our business as usual. Student Success Plans replace the paper-based Intervention Strategy Form, and may be created in fdlGrades at any time, but are required where a student has had an unsatisfactory semester. The Student Success Plans are saved in fdlGrades, allow program managers to put intervention strategies in place that are tailored on a student by student basis, and enable our program managers to record all follow up with students in fdlGrades. Where meetings with Student Futures Learning Skills Advisors, attendance in other Student Futures Programs or participation in the English Language Support Program have been required under a Student Success Plan, fdlGrades records student compliance with those requirements. The adoption of SSPs across the faculty support the third objective of the SRS strategic plan, regarding the development and implementation of targeted intervention and support for our students.

AskFedUni – information portal to support prospective and current students. The development of a portal containing over 750 knowledge articles (or FAQs) for the use of both prospective and current students, community members and FedUni staff is now available. Developed and maintained by the CRM Knowledge Management Officer within Student HQ, access to the AskFedUni page is possible from most pages of our website through the Contact button in the top right hand area. Using the site is as simple as typing in key words to find answers to common questions, locate useful information and links to services and support. By enabling an individual to self-service as and where they need, customer satisfaction is improved and the volume of emails, phone calls and web-based queries is reduced, releasing staff to respond to other priorities.

In addition to the FAQs accessed via the Ask FedUni Portal, internal articles have been created to assist Student HQ staff to locate information to assist customer service whether the person has walked up to counter, submitted a web enquiry, emailed or called the 1800 number. The usage data collected across all articles will inform and support the continuous improvement of the articles and the service by Student HQ. Click here to access AskFedUni and experience it yourself.

APC Review/Student Progress Working Party concludes and thanks those involved. The APC Review/Student Progress Working Party, which was formed from needs identified in the first SRS strategic plan, had its last meeting on 1 August 2017. Working party Chair, Amy Barnhouse, is happy to report that the working party achieved the goals it set out to meet which fell into the categories of correspondence, process and procedure:

  1. Review the current academic progress correspondence, including ‘at risk’, unsatisfactory progress, show cause, exclusion letters and emails as well as intervention agreements. Present recommendations for improvement.
  2. Review APC processes and redraft correspondence with students in light of legal requirements to ensure clarity and identification of support services while utilising appropriate tone.
  3. Review and update policies and procedures, adhering to ESOS and legislative requirements, designed to inform and support students identified as ‘at risk’.
  4. To establish a process to ensure consistency in the at risk communication process across Faculties and Partner providers and make recommendations for improvement.

Thank you to all of the members of this working party for their hard work and dedication to achieving these goals:

Andrew Smith, Associate Dean (Student Retention & Success) Faculty of Health
Grant Meredith, Associate Dean (Student Retention & Success) Faculty of Science and Technology
Alison Lord, Associate Dean (Student Retention & Success) Faculty of Education and Arts
Anne Kelly, Manager, Compliance, Engagement, Centre for University Partnerships
Talia Barrett, CLIPP Representative
Elizabeth Luciani, Student Advisory Services
Laura Beck, Administrative Officer Appeals and Plagiarism, Federation Business School
Leo Brunelle, Quality Assurance Coordinator, Faculty of Science and Technology
Kim Ferguson, Student Retention & Success Project Coordinator
Lauren Burney, Student Services Team Leader
Deborah Pavey, Senior Student Services Officer

A special thank you to Frank de Luca for all of his work uploading the student monitoring and academic progress correspondence, for developing the Student Success Plan, and most recently, for adding features to allow the ability to record student compliance with intervention strategies. Thank you also to Helen Sutton for collaborating with the faculties to ensure consistency in the delivery of the student correspondence.

Redesign of IT program brings world class recognition to FedUni. The Faculty of Science & Technology is a buzz that Dr Richard Dazeley has been nominated by the Australian Computer Society for the South East Asia Regional Computer Confederation (SEARCC) International ICT Educator of the Year Award. The nomination highlights the significant achievements in the redesign of our Bachelor of Information Technology program, confirming that the changes and innovative approaches to teaching have resulted in a world class standard in ICT education. Being nominated is a significant achievement and we wish Dr Dazeley, and the Faculty of Science all the best. These program changes support the fifth objective of the SRS strategic plan, being to facilitate the highest quality of learning possible for our students.

Textbooks and learning resources made available earlier for students. Thank you to our faculties who engaged in the redeveloped online process to improve student access to textbooks and other resource requirements in the lead up to semester 2. The university was able to ensure learning and teaching resources were made available to students in a timely manner. As student have previously expressed concerns regarding resource availability, this online process is a win for retention and success.

Our residential community grew by 120 students. In preparation for Semester 2, Residential Support Team (RST) members completed their mid-year formation and training before welcoming over 120 new students to the residential community. A series of welcome morning / afternoon teas were hosted by the FedUni Living team in conjunction with the RST to welcome new residents and to advise them of the support services available across the institution. It is well documented that students living on res have a lower attrition rate than others. Click here for more information on Living on campus success.

Thank you to all staff who continue to contribute, and strive to improve our student’s experiences at FedUni. For any questions or SRS additions, please contact Initiative Coordinator, Kim Ferguson.

I would like to end by saying farewell and thank you to Andrew Strachan, advocate and key leader of our SRS initiative. On behalf of the University, I would like to sincerely thank Andrew for all his work in student retention and success. Andrew has worked tirelessly to bring about major changes at the University designed to contribute to a better student experience, better service levels and student/'customer' service and better coaching and performance enhancement by staff who supervise others. He led the development of the Unified Communications working party and the development of the now widely used guide for communicating with students. Andrew has brought about major positive change by challenging the status quo, bringing fresh ideas from industry and being determined, whatever the obstacles and challenges, to persist and make things better. Andrew built strong relationships across the university and his sense of humour and genuine care for his colleagues were appreciated by all who worked with him. He and his energy will be dearly missed. Professor Marcia Devlin, DVC (Learning and Quality).