Initiative updates

Student and Retention Success Project - April, 2017

The university-wide, Council-endorsed Student Retention and Success initiative continues to develop, implement and coordinate a wide range of initiatives to arrest student attrition and maximize student success.

Council receive update on retention. SRS Initiative leader, Professor Marcia Devlin, has given FedUni Council a presentation on likely future government higher education policy directions and their possible impacts on domestic student recruitment and attrition and on our funding. Council members were pleased about progress that had been made in terms of arresting attrition in a context where it was expected to rise sharply.

Associate Dean (SRS), Grant Meredith, warmly received in China. Grant Meredith has received a letter of appreciation and thanks from Shaoguan University for the information session he delivered during his December trip to China. Describing Grant’s presentation, titled “Turning attention to student attrition”, as both informative and future changing, and the instigator of a lot of positive conversation concerning cultural differences between the two universities and student support. Well done to Grant and thank you for your positive contribution to building positive partner relationships.

Student HQ seeking input from staff. HQ are current undergoing a post implementation review on the SAT project. The following link will take you to the staff survey we’ll be using to gain thoughts and suggestions on Phase 1 of the SAT implementation.

In conjunction to this survey, our broader leadership team within URD will be engaged to evaluate each area of our responsibilities to look at the following:

  • Current level of skill/knowledge to effectively process task
  • Adequate FTE to handle task
  • System/Process Improvement opportunity available for task
  • Task assigned to appropriate team/group

Where certain tasks touch other stakeholder groups, we will then seek to include their feedback also. After gathering and collating all feedback and recommendations a report will be compiled, focusing on our successes to date, the opportunities, and proposed changes to move forward with. Our goal is to have all this completed by the end of April.

Pre- census attrition for Semester 1 2017 undertaken. Analysis of our students studying with Fed Uni for the first time in an undergraduate degree has been done. It should be noted that pre-census attrition students have withdrawn from their studies without financial penalty, which is in contrast to our Yearly Attrition measure which provides data on students who withdraw after census dates. Our pre-census attrition rate for commencing undergraduates of Semester 1 2017 (excluding partners) is 5.9%. This result is lower than forecast and represents a 0.7% improvement from Semester 1 2016.

Early analysis of Yearly Attrition for 2016 undertaken. This determines progression of our students into 2017. Our modelling shows that our 2016 commencing cohort are at a higher risk of attrition than previous years, largely due to a higher number of direct applicant students, who are often balancing work, family and study commitments. As expected, the progression of the 2016 cohort is lower than previous years.  We have identified specific hot-spot areas that are now the focus of follow up and closer analysis.

Admissions, Retention & Success team focus call campaigns on withdrawing students. Personal calls have been made to students who have submitted a Withdrawal From all Studies form for Semester 1, to finalise the process and ensure they are aware of their options such as taking leave or reducing their study loads. An SMS campaign saw all continuing FedUni students contacted on Friday 31st March (Census date) to remind them of the importance of finalising their enrolment for Semester 1. Commencing students received information via email in the lead up to Census date.

SAT staff collaborate with Faculties in early intervention initiatives. Academic progress has been a focus across all faculties this month with Admissions, Retention & Success team contacting students identified as not engaging with Moodle or their mentors. Other early intervention reporting and flagging actions in fdlGrades have been undertaken in faculties, with SAT staff following through contacting students. Faculty of Science & Technology had close to 1000 student interventions made across all of the teaching locations (excluding partner sites). Program/Undergraduate coordinators have been busy utilising the new online Student Success Plans to support and guide students.

Review of early intervention flagging of students. Faculty of Health are reviewing their practice around early flagging of students and exploring the impact of the flagged communication triggered in terms of the rates student follow up. The faculty are particularly interested to see if the communication to student prompts the student to make initial contact with their relevant coordinator. The outcomes will allow us to consider ways to improve our practice around contact with students at risk in the flagging period.

KickStart registrations on the rise. The Scholarships office has had a busy start to semester with registrations numbers over 2,200, on track to surpassing 2016 registrations at 2,500. Offers have been made for the following grants & bursaries:

  • 95 computers
  • 109 bursary offers
  • 500 book grants
  • 339 uniform grants
  • 200 nursing kits

One computer recipient claimed, “The laptop I got is absolutely fantastic. It has taken such a pressure off how I was going to manage my study load at home. I could never have afforded this on my own”.

Scholarship Awards ceremonies across the campuses in May. A scholarship awards ceremony will be held on Monday 1st May (Ballarat) and Tuesday 2nd May (Berwick & Gippsland) to present certificate to students in recognition of their awards for Yr 12 entry, FedUni wide, Foundation TAFE and Community Scholarships.  Students speaking on the day will also represent the KickStart bursaries and grants recipients.  The ceremony provides the university an opportunity to celebrate the success of students and thank our generous community sponsors.

The FedStart survey receives positive response. With 1,145 responses received, this was a very successful campaign and provided a positive experience for all students who took part, as well as providing in insight into new student needs for future students. Tailored information was given to students based on their responses to the survey, so that students received the relevant information on what they wanted to know.

Timely provision of textbooks and other resources continues as a priority. Campus Life continues to work closely with Strategic Capital, Infrastructure and Projects (SCIP), ITS, and faculties to enhance the ServiceNow platform for the timely provision of textbooks and other resource requirements for Semester 2 2017. The system has seen a number of functional enhancements which will significantly improve the user experience with the addition of auto refill resource requirements from previous semester, the ability to select ‘no resources required’ at the commencement of the process and a cleaner user interface. To ensure our students are able to have timely access to resources in semester 2, the ServiceNow tool will be open for submissions from Friday 21 April until Friday 12 May. Additional resources including a quick reference guide, demonstrational video and training sessions will be available to support faculty staff.

FedUni Living Residential Advisors on exchange in New Zealand. A group of Residential Advisors will be participating in the annual FedUni & Victoria University Wellington Residential Leadership Exchange in New Zealand from 19th to 26th April, 2017. Now in its third year, the exchange brings together students from across New Zealand and FedUni’s regions for an immersive leadership program which inspires students to succeed and contribute to the wider FedUni community.

Student Engagement implements new programs and initiatives. Designed to increase student engagement, participation and connection to the University:

  • The Learn a Sport program has been designed to allow students to experience a variety of sports, develop basic skills, increase their confidence and grow their interest in participating in sport and keeping active. Short term learn tennis and learn squash clinics have been running at Mt Helen and have seen fantastic participation and interest from students averaging 9 participants per week.
  • There has been a high level of interest in sport and recreation activities at our Berwick Campus. Student Engagement held a ‘come and try’ afternoon where students participated in a number of sports. As a result, four FedUni teams including basketball, netball and futsal have formed and entered into a local indoor competition in Berwick.
  • Student Engagement are eager to support the growth and development of student clubs and societies at the Gippsland Campus. There has been a high level of interest, with eight prospective clubs currently working towards becoming affiliated with the University.

For more information on these programs, please contact Jason Slater, Coordinator, Student Engagement.

Please do not hesitate to contact any of the Associate Deans (SRS), or Initiative Coordinator, Kim Ferguson, if you have any suggestions or feedback on the Initiative or how we might better facilitate student retention and success.