Helping country kids feel at home on campus

Universities can now measure how their support structure for RRR students rate

Students from the bush can struggle to settle in to studying away from home and the feds commissioned the Australian Council for Educational Research to identify how universities meet their needs. The work is one of a suite of projects following the Halsey Review of remote, rural and regional education last year (CMM April 16 ‘18)   and to inform the Napthine Advisory Group (CMM November 12 ’18). The feds quietly released Darren Matthews, Gina Milgate and Leyna Clarke’s ACER report a month back. “Student retention and completion is impacted by how well universities target and communicate about their support services. Universities that identify the support required for first-year students early, have a better chance of retaining those students,” they write.
The ACER authors worked with public universities to create a self-assessment tool. It allows individual universities to rate themselves on a four-point green-red scale against a mass of performance measures grouped in four categories; resourcing student services, support that provides RRR commencers a sense of belonging, comms so they know what is going on and where there is help and service effectiveness.

If this all sounds like it would be a bunch of work to measure, it is. But there is a big reason why universities should adopt the ACER model (apart from concern for RRR kids) and that’s another metric the government really watches – attrition.  

“If a university can retain a student through their first year, they are much less likely to leave their study from then on,” the ACER team point out.


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