Thanks to SSAF funding, the following support services have been made available to students over the years.
The Student Life Team were able to develop resources for Off-Campus Students including a dedicated website and Off-Campus Information Guide.
SSAF is one of the key funding sources for supporting professional development and social networking for higher degree research (HDR) students and delivers supportive group activities, such as seminar days, research student conferences, cohort activities for off campus research candidates, disciplinary-relevant career workshops and social events.
In June 2022 the College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Science (CPHMVS) hosted a dinner in Cairns with 16 Cairns-based CPHMVS HDRs sponsored by the JCU SSAF. It was a relaxing evening for everyone after a week of hard work, with opportunities to connect with other HDRs and A/Professor Zhanming Liang, CPHMVS Associate Dean of Research Education. Connecting with other fellow HDRs and researchers is important to reduce isolation and develop a sense of being part of a supportive academic and research community. Great thanks to Katrina Kaposi, PhD candidate and CPHMVS HDR representative for assisting with organising the event.
The Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Ambassador Program at JCU provides peer-to-peer welcome support that aims to make commencing students’ transition to a HDR degree, to JCU and town (Townsville or Cairns) as smooth as possible. This program is coordinated by the Graduate Research School (GRS) and run by 10 casually employed HDR candidates. The Ambassadors also benefit as the Program offers casual employment opportunities to enhance their skills in leadership, communication, problem-solving and connection with like-minded potential students.
In 2021, COVID-19 restrictions presented challenges, however the HDR Ambassadors adapted the Program for remote candidates, enthusiastically meeting them and sharing their positive university experience. There were 165 new candidates, 57 of whom used the Ambassador service.
Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students
SSAF funding contributed to a range of activities being delivered or supported by the Indigenous Education and Research Centre (IERC) in 2021, including Welcome and Orientation events, Health and Wellbeing Program and workshops.
SSAF funds were used to purchase healthy snacks, kitchen supplies, study resources and small items of furniture.
The activities supported by SSAF built connections between students, staff and community, provided a welcoming and supportive environment for Indigenous students, healthy food choices and a sense of inclusion for external students.
The International Student Support Team continued to hold Free Lunch Fridays three times every semester on both Cairns and Townsville campuses in 2021, and additional SSAF funding was allocated to support International students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At each event the Team provided activities (traditional music and dancing, traditional arts and crafts) that encouraged student interaction and thus provided opportunity for students to develop friendships and make connections. Other Student Groups/Associations (Latin America SA, South Asia SA, Indonesian SA, Chinese SA, African Student Group, PNG SA) were engaged to help deliver activities and provide food.
Although attendance was reduced in 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions, each event attracted approximately 100 students. Student feedback, both verbal and via the International Students Townsville/Cairns Facebook groups, was very positive with many students sharing photos and commentary about their experience.
Students located at Mackay and Mount Isa
SSAF funding was used to deliver the 2022 Student Centre Academic Skills Boot Camps at the Centre for Rural and Remote Health, Murtupuni campus in Mount Isa (O Week SP1 & SP2) and JCU Mater Clinical Training Centre campus in Mackay (Week 1, SP1 & SP2). Delivered by JCU Library staff, the Boot Camps are a great way for students to meet each other and professional and academic staff, and provide friendly, interactive settings where students can learn and share practical study skills and tips.
Staff who deliver the Boot Camps always return from the sessions feeling more connected with the students, and student feedback tells us they feel more confident in their abilities to be successful in their studies. For example:
- I feel more confident in my abilities to work efficiently on assessment and with the study load
- the sessions helped me with finding resources
- it was great to learn about knowing how to manage time effectively and the importance of note taking, time management, note taking skills, essay structure and paragraph structure
- helpful information that allows detailed preparation for uni life
- everything about the session was great