Growth and Retention

In his January all-staff forum, the VC spoke about how the growth in student numbers, and the retention of our existing students, are among our top priorities as an institution. In particular, he spoke about this being a collective effort, and urged staff to consider what they might do to help in this endeavour. Within HASSE, we’re keen to explore possibilities for growth into new markets and our work with the Growth Team is helping to scope out such potential. We can approach the Growth Team with an idea for a new course, and they will help produce market analyses for us which can help us to refine and develop those ideas into something more robust. This often starts with an informal conversation about something we might explore, and, with that in mind, I’d encourage staff to start some conversations with a view to getting these ideas off the ground.

Balancing progression and load

With similar priorities in mind, we’re keen to ensure we strike a balance in our course structures to ensure that students can easily progress through their studies, while also ensuring that we minimise the number of units with low student loads. We’re aware that when students struggle to proceed through their course [due to limitations on unit availability], they often consider taking a leave of absence. We’re also aware that few students who take a leave of absence actually return to their studies [they often transfer their studies elsewhere, or stop their studies altogether]. Smooth course progression then, is central to our considerations around course-level retention and student success. However, we need to ensure that our offerings in support of progression are sustainable, and that the units we offer to facilitate progression support a healthy student load. With this in mind, I’d like to encourage discussions in disciplines and departments to consider sustainable ways to support course progression.

First Nations Success Program 2024

We’ve kicked off work for 2024 in the First Nations Success Program and I’m pleased to report that this year we’ll see additional staff recruitment into the program, particularly with the potential for several new academic staff in HASSE, and a new staff member joining us from SABL. Those staff will lead curriculum review and development activities and will drive First Nations community sessions. Throughout the past 16 months staff in the program have been working closely with staff in Oorala and across the faculties to identify issues that affect First Nations’ student success and retention, and to work on solutions. As I previously reported in December, they’ve increased our Indigenous students’ success rates by over 7% in 2023 compared to 2022 figures, and in HASSE they’ve worked to improve Indigenous students’ success rates by over 10%!