Student services staff happy to help

People who think university administrations would run smoothly if it weren’t for students will have conniptions over Michelle Gillespie’s new paper. Ms Gillespie, from Swinburne U, surveyed staff on customer service for the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management. She found:

* staff in student services think their work is worthwhile, even though over a third feel unrewarded for their efforts

* workers are confident they can answer whatever students ask, although some “bounced” people with questions they couldn’t, sending them to somebody else

* while individuals think they can do better they say their colleagues are doing great jobs

* experienced student services people learn best from colleagues rather than formal training courses.  This, Ms Gillespie writes, is the “most notable conclusion.” “The way we deliver training to our staff needs to shift away from formal methods, such as training manuals and tutorials.”

Overall it’s good news; “A student-centric workforce of staff motivated by the love of their job can be achieved; the key is developing team leaders, supervisors, managers and subject matter experts to achieve this goal. Staff who have the skills to do their job well are more likely to be confident in their role.”


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