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September 13, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Survey paints picture of ‘First Year Experience’

“The hostel feeds me well but I’m always hungry by 8:30 at night.”

The results of Victoria University’s Student Academic Services ‘First Year Experience’ survey are back, with the majority of responses showing students asking ‘more’ of student services.

The survey is part of a project researching the experiences of first-year students at Victoria, with the aim of maximising the positive aspects of the experience.
Interest in the experiences of first-year students is founded on Victoria statistics which show that first-year course fail-rates are often far higher than in subsequent years. The survey is conducted midway through trimester one, as research shows that students that do badly after the first period of assessment have a higher risk of dropping out.
Student Academic Services (Counselling) Manager Gerard Hoffman points to evidence that those students who engage early with their studies and use the support services available to them “are much more likely to stay and succeed academically”.

Results from VUWSA’s Student Services and Amenities Levy Advisory Committee (SSALAC) Consultation showed that many students were not fully aware of the services that they could make use of. While the survey is particularly interested in how first-years are finding the transition to university, one of its main purposes is to make students more aware of the services that are provided to them by Student Academic Services.

“We’d like to encourage help-seeking at an early time,” Hoffman says.

The restructuring of Student Services, who have run the survey for the last five years, has seen the introduction of the title Student Academic Services and a focus on ‘Retention, Achievement and Equity’ and ‘Transition and Orientation’.

Hoffman says that although the work the service does hasn’t changed, specific portfolios have give them more focused titles and services.

The survey asked students to comment on a range of services that the university operates, with the most common concerns of students revolving around accommodation issues, orientation, and course specific problems.

Students left suggestions for improvements in Orientation Week, such as an “evening of music and dance in the quad during O week”, while course-specific comments included those targeting the “…impolite woman on the phone whenever the Faculty is contacted”.

Simply asking for “more” was the most common response of students; whether in relation to accommodation, activities for first years not in halls, introductory exercises, clubs, indoor cricket, advertising or career advice.

Hoffman hopes the release of the survey results will provide some feedback for those who took part, and reassure students who feel ‘over-surveyed’ that their efforts have not been in vain.

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