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Strengthening the first year experience at university

Stephanie Saunders

Stephanie Saunders

Aug 1, 2018

Here's how Australian universities can improve the first year experience.
Here's how Australian universities can improve the first year experience.

You only get one first impression. And for our Australian universities, their first impression on new students can have a huge impact, influencing how they feel about higher education for the entire time they are there.

If a student enjoys their first year experience, this can set them up for future success both within university and their subsequent careers. If a student becomes disengaged, however, they may struggle academically or simply drop out altogether. And, with a recent report by the Grattan Institute indicating that one in four students drop out of higher education, universities need to be doing all they can to ensure the first year experience lives up to expectations

Why can first year be difficult?

University is a huge departure from high school. Often, it is the first time young people have lived away from home, and this newfound independence in their personal and academic lives can be both a blessing and a curse.

Although it is an essential part of growing up, it also means students are often learning to do simple things like cooking and cleaning for the first time. At the same time, they have to get used to university study patterns, which normally involve much less face-to-face teaching time, much larger classes, more work done independently, and fewer chances for one-to-one discussions with teachers. 

With student numbers and class sizes growing every year, independent study and fewer hours spent with teachers is becoming an even more engrained feature of Australian university life. 

A report by the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education clearly indicates the problem:

  • 30 per cent of respondents admitted to never asking questions in class.
  • Just under two thirds (59 per cent) believed staff were able to discuss their work

If students feel that they are not receiving adequate attention from lecturers, many end up skipping class altogether, with one in 10 respondents to the University of Melbourne study saying they frequently chose not to attend classes.

One reason for this is that many are working part-time alongside study. 18 per cent of those surveyed by the University of Melbourne said they worked over 21 hours per week, and 9 per cent said they worked over 31 hours. With university fees rising (and many courses costing $30,000 or more), this is only a trend set to continue. And, as more and more students work alongside study, their chances of gaining everything they can from their academic studies is diminishing.

Finding the time to study can become more difficult when students have to take up part-time work. With university fees rising, many students are taking up part-time work, which can make studying difficult.

How can we improve the first year experience?

Many of the barriers to a strong first year experience are related to different study patterns from high school and the need to fit study in alongside other commitments. This is where online, on-demand study help platforms will make a huge difference.

Being able to access learning online, from anywhere and at any time, means that even those who work frequently or struggle with large class sizes will be able to get the teaching they require. Learning and feedback is also much more personalised, mitigating the effects of large class sizes and constraints on lecturers' time. 

Online, on-demand study help with Studiosity

One such platform that is seeing significant success is Studiosity. Our online, on-demand study help platform comprises a 24-hour writing feedback service as well as our Connect Live service, which offers one-to-one personal help in real time on a range of subjects. 

With 95 per cent of students at Macquerie University rating the service as being both relevant and useful, and those who use the service for 100 minutes or more gaining 0.99 GPA points higher than those who don't, Studiosity has the ability to significantly help students and improve the first year experience.

For more information about our services, reach out to the team today. 

About Studiosity

Studiosity is personalised study help, anytime, anywhere. We partner with institutions to extend their core academic skills support online with timely, after-hours help for all their students, at scale - regardless of their background, study mode or location. 

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