First Year Experience and Retention Policy

Policy Learning and Teaching First Year Experience and Retention Policy

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Intent

Students are at the heart of our University. JCU is committed to a whole-of-university approach in the provision of structured orientation and transition to help all commencing students adjust to study. The University recognises the significant challenges facing first year students and acknowledges their diversity and varying social and educational needs and aspirations.

Through this policy JCU will provide a comprehensive, integrated and coordinated approach to the First Year Experience that:

  • Is part of a coordinated, evidence-led University-wide strategy that enables and enhances participation and success and improves the student experience.

  • Develops quality first year experiences through intentional curricular and co-curricular design and enactment.

  • Is facilitated by high quality learning and teaching environments, as outlined in the Learning, Teaching and Assessment Policy.

  • Provides equity of access to teachers, teaching resources, library resources, student support and enrolment services and information channels.

  • Is consistent across Colleges, Divisions and all campuses and study centres.

  • Fosters easy and timely access to services and programs that aid academic and social orientation, integration and support.

  • Identifies, promulgates and recognises good practices that enhance the First Year Experience and improve student retention.

Scope

  • All campuses and study centres, all divisions, all undergraduate courses, and JCU foundation, pathway, preparatory and bridging programs, where students are enrolled as JCU students.

  • Students in their first year of study, both on and off-campus, commencing international students who are new to JCU, and students new to JCU who have advanced standing into second or third year (and therefore may miss specific and targeted transitional curriculum support).

Definitions

First Year Experience - the First Year Experience is a student’s experience of JCU from the moment of offer to the end of their first year of study, or when a student has achieved 24 credit points in their currently enrolled undergraduate course.

First Year Experience Coordinator - a First Year Experience Coordinator is an academic staff member who has expertise and strong interest in supporting student transition and success, as outlined in the Charter of Responsibilities for Academic Quality (Learning and Teaching)

Orientation Week - is known as O Week. It is a collection of academic and social events and activities that are generally held the week before each teaching period begins. It marks the official start of a student’s university experience.

Retention - is a measure of the proportion of students at an institution who continue their studies from the previous year.  At James Cook University student retention is measured at three levels – course retention, Faculty retention and University retention.  Each measure of retention is defined below:

Course retention – the retention rate for the reference year (x) is the ratio of continuing students (enrolled in the reference year (x) and who re-enrol and attract EFTSL load in the same Course in the following year (x + 1)) to the available students (enrolments in the reference year (x) minus completions in the reference year(x)).  Students who (i) defer their study or (ii) who transfer to another course of study are not identified as retained. Students who transfer between majors (within the same course code) are considered retained.  This statistic is calculated for undergraduate bachelor and postgraduate coursework masters courses only.

Faculty retention – the retention rate for the reference year (x) is the ratio of continuing students (enrolled in the reference year (x) and who re-enrol and attract EFTSL load in the same Faculty in the following year (x + 1)) to the available students (enrolments in the reference year (x) minus completions in the reference year(x)).  Those students who (i) defer their study or (ii) transfer to another course in a different Faculty are not identified as retained. Students who transfer courses within the Faculty are considered retained. This statistic is calculated for undergraduate bachelor and postgraduate coursework masters courses only.

University retention – the retention rate for the reference year (x) is the ratio of continuing students (enrolled in the reference year (x) and who re-enrol and attract EFTSL load in the University in the following year (x + 1)) to the available students (enrolments in the reference year (x) minus completions in the reference year(x)).  Those students who (i) defer their study or (ii) transfer to another higher education institution are not identified as retained. Students who transfer course or Faculty within the University are considered retained. This statistic is calculated for undergraduate bachelor and postgraduate coursework masters courses only.

Policy

  1. Orientation and Transition:

A successful transition to university increases a student’s overall satisfaction with their undergraduate experience as well as increasing the likelihood of their retention and degree completion. In recognition of this, JCU ensures that:

  • All commencing students have the opportunity to participate in activities and events that clarify university expectations and course choice, and engage, inspire and support academic success, social engagement and career development, in a manner inclusive of student diversity, regardless of location or mode of study.

  • International students commencing study are additionally informed of relevant legislative requirements and are offered extra orientation activities, including integration into the culture of their host country (for example Australia, Singapore).

  • Student support units offer information, advice and specialist services so students can ask for assistance, consider options and prevent, alleviate or resolve difficulties.

  • Students are made aware of their rights and responsibilities, including access to fair, transparent and efficient complaints and appeals procedures.

  • There is a coordinated approach to O Week, as detailed in the O Week Framework.

  • Student support services staff work with academic staff to provide group workshops, individual support and online resources specifically designed to aid first year transition. Workshops are offered in a timely manner, responding to student needs and transition periods.

  • The JCU Transition Framework initiatives and the associated roles and responsibilities of staff and Student Mentors in relation to student transition are embedded in operational plans and budgets.

  • There is ongoing evaluation of student transition needs and expectations in the first year of study at JCU.

  • Strategies and policy development are designed to support students as they transition to their second year of study and beyond.

  1. Retention:

Student retention is a shared responsibility that is “everybody’s business”.  Within the university-wide approach, retention initiatives will be coordinated by the Retention Project Officer, in collaboration with academic and general staff.  JCU ensures that:

  • Student enrolment, progress, retention, and achievement data are monitored, analysed, disseminated and acted upon, so that student progress is tracked during the first year of study and student progress data are used effectively to improve retention rates.

  • Each support service has a statement outlining the nature of the service, access to the       service and clear contact details. Students are offered multiple ways of obtaining information, advice and specialist services: including take-away information, appointment, drop-in, websites, group sessions, written applications, sign-posting, referral and email.

  • International Student Intervention Guidelines are enacted for students at risk of not satisfactorily meeting academic progress requirements.

Roles and Responsibilities

Related policy instruments

Related documents and legislation

Administration

Approval Details

Policy Sponsor:

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic

Approval Authority:

Academic Board

Approval date:

28/05/2014

Version no:

V1.1

Date for next review:

01/03/2015

Revision History

Version

Revision date

Description of changes

Author

1.1

28/05/2014

Roles amended to reflect organisation re-structure

Policy Officer

1.0

 

Policy established Approved: 30/09/2013

DVCA

Keywords

Keywords:

Student experience, retention, orientation, transition