Student Transition: are we trying hard enough?

by | 13 Dec, 2016 | 0 comments

Students pay the big bucks to attend universities like UTS, but are we doing everything we can to help them transition into the big bad world of tertiary education? Deputy-Vice Chancellor Sally Kift from James Cook University (and a Transition Expert!) says that we're nailing it - and she's impressed.

I’ve recently become interested in the different aspects of student transition, and have luckily become involved with Dr Kathy Egea from the Institute of Interactive Media and Learning at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). The idea behind the First Year Experience (FYE) forum is to bring academics and professional staff together to get to know each other, through sharing practice from formal (grant presentations) and informal conversations (group activities) on curriculum, co-curriculum approaches to students transition, and building ongoing collaborations across and within disciplines.  The focus in FYE is to ensure that the students experience a successful transition in their first year of university study. And the FYE forum is definitely doing just that.

On Friday 9th November I was fortunate to attend the Final FYE Forum for 2016. One of the biggest take home points from the day was that over the last 5 years, so many academics have undertaken projects as part of small FYE grants that the impact has not only seen Low Socio-Economic Status (LSES) students significantly increase in their pass rates – but they have now surpassed the pass rates of the Domestic cohort. That is actually insane. So in short, YES, UTS is definitely doing enough – and more – thanks to the amazing work by the FYE Community.

We were lucky enough to have DVC Sally Kift present her view on the current transition climate for first year students. One of the points that really resonated with me was her opinion that we shouldn’t just be supporting students in their various entry pathways into UTS, but should also focus on developing possible exit pathways. Students who complete some of their degree, and then decide to continue their lives outside of university learning leave the university without any recognition – what a powerhouse of a woman to recognise this issue, especially in her position!

All in all, it’s been an absolute pleasure to be so warmly welcomed into the FYE community – which actually began with two FYE grants I was a part of in 2015. Ever since then, the community has been so helpful in my own career progression, and the driving force behind my own development of student resources for improving and facilitating student transition. The next step in the FYE whirlwind is to make sure we can share all of these amazing resources with other academics, professional staff and even other universities to ensure the continual improvement and progression of the projects generated as part of the small FYE grants, and their implementation into other subjects across the university.

Check out the twitter story for the forum here. To get in contact or follow updates on the FYE Community follow us on twitter @FYE_UTS and send us an email on fye.community@uts.edu.au.

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