ANZSSA Conference recap: Authentic partnerships for quality outcomes

The ANZSSA (Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association Inc.) Conference this year brought together staff including counsellors, career advisors, student wellbeing advisors, academic advisors, admissions officers and student guild advocates. The theme for the conference, ‘Authentic partnerships for quality outcomes’, aimed to explore new ways for enabling students to achieve their educational and life goals.

Key conference takeaways

Student lifecycle program pilot: Connecting with students on the academic progression register
Presenter: Lakia Turner, Student Support Services, University of Sydney

  • Developed by the University of Sydney Student Transition and Retention Team, in partnership with Faculties and student support services, The Student Lifecycle program is a three-step program which aims to improve the academic progress of international students.
  • Students complete an online self-reflection tool, participate in a phone session and meet with the Student Lifecycle Officer (SLO) to understand and address the types of issues international students face, and what can be done to support them.
  • It was recognised from the pilot project that students face academic progression difficulties due to issues relating to work & finances (65%), living & social (21%), study skills & experience (14%).

What’s in a name: partners, customers or students?
Presenter: Dr Meegan Hall, Senior Lecturer, Victoria University of Wellington

  • Dr Meegan Hall involved first-year indigenous students in research to find a different way to get them involved in academic learning.
  • The project involved the creation of a booklet where students had to take on various roles; writing, graphics, photos, statistics, binding, publishing and distribution. They were assessed on this task. The research revealed better results using this kind of assessment, where students work collaborative on a project, as opposed to individual separate assignments.
  • Another idea discussed was how students are often overwhelmed with online surveys asking for feedback, but the results or findings are rarely reported back to them. It’s important to share the results of the feedback with students to make them feel their opinion is valued.

Does student-staff co-creation have a place in higher education?
Presenter: Mollie Dollinger, Associate Lecturer of Student Success, La Trobe University

  • There is growing discussion of the possible benefits of student-staff co-creation in higher education.
  • Co-creation enables students to contribute to the resources into learning and teaching spaces and university services.
  • Benefits include student engagement, enhanced services and student success.
  • Academics’ advice and expertise can enable a better student experience; assist students with future career planning, course choices, CV building and understanding what they want out of university.

When striving for perfection gets in the way of progress: a group-based program for perfectionism
Presenter: Dr Emma Keer, Clinical Psychologist/Student Counsellor, Student Care & Equity, University of Newcastle

  • Perfectionism involves having high or inflexible standards, self-worth dependency on meeting these high standards and continuing to strive for standards, despite negative consequences.
  • Understanding perfectionism can help recognise how it can have a negative impact on students, e.g., perfectionism can lead to avoidance behaviours, overcompensation behaviours and can even contribute to depression.
  • Workshops developed at the University of Newcastle aim to address understanding perfectionism, adjusting unreasonable standards, perfectionistic behaviour and developing self-compassion.

Co-curricular programs for student success at UNSW
Presenter: Jessica Luquin, Student Development Officer, University of New South Wales

  • Co-curricular student support aims to develop the whole student through all stages of the student experience; from transition into higher education through to graduation.
  • At UNSW Student Life, students are supported through online chat, phone support, peer mentoring, volunteering opportunities and unpaid internships with community organisations.
  • The program offers professional development, community engagement, education and disability support. These opportunities are designed to complement academic study.

ANZSSA is a professional association for people working in/have an interest in the role of support services in post-secondary education. Visit their website to find out more.