Making The University Experience More Than Just a Certificate by Professor Anne Cummins

///Making The University Experience More Than Just a Certificate by Professor Anne Cummins

Students planning to go to university look for more than just the courses offered; they are seeking a whole experience as they continue their studies and work towards a career.

Australian Catholic University (ACU) has invested significant time, thinking and funds into the improvement of the overall student experience. A whole range of strategic projects, including the Learning for Life framework, have been specifically targeted at responding to the demands of our students for a better learning experience at ACU. Our student engagement programs provide a co-curricular experience building social contacts, skills and employability. For the University it was validation of the significant commitment to this program to achieve such outstanding results in the Quality Indicators in Learning and Teaching 2015 Student Engagement Survey (SES).

We saw the Overall Experience Satisfaction of ACU students increase to 83.4% – well above the industry average of 80%. Within the survey we saw how the University’s focus on quality teaching in a modern learning environment had resonated with our students, with satisfaction rates reaching:

  • 86% for Skills Development compared to the national average of 81%
  • 67% for Learner Engagement compared to the national average of 60%
  • 84% for Teaching Quality compared to the national average of 82%
  • 75% for Student Support compared to the national average of 72%
  • 88% for Learning Resources compared to the national average of 86%

The faculties, through Learning for Life, provide input into the key learning and teaching areas of curriculum design, the increased use of technology to enhance learning, and the provision of significantly improved physical learning and teaching spaces. The aim is always to ensure that our students receive the most engaged and engaging learning and teaching experience, irrespective of the mode of delivery and that our graduates are job-ready to further develop in their professional lives. Programs such as Learning for Life are driven by, and centred on, students. As a university, we pride ourselves on building strong relationships with our students, extending to their aspirations for a university that provides them with the best opportunity to cause change in the world. We look to develop and empower our students’ entrepreneurial skills, with many putting these skills into practice to create their own NGOs and community organisations, becoming job creators with a focus on the community around them.

This is what excites us and motivates the University to continue to focus on delivering our teaching for the modern university student in ways that engage and grow their appetite to learn. To do this, we need teachers with a passion to innovate. This was solidified at the Australian Awards for University Teaching (AAUT) Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, with Faculty of Education and Arts academics Dr Catherine Bell and Dr Cathie Harrison, along with Mr Anthony Whitty from the Faculty of Health Sciences, recognised for their creativity and innovation in learning and teaching.

For ACU these results are recognition of what we have been able to achieve in a short time, but like our students, we are not settling for the status quo.

The University will continue to listen to our students to make sure our courses and programs engage and enable their aspirations.

Anne CumminsAnne has a longstanding commitment to equity and access in education for young people. Forging her career as a secondary college Principal and senior executive in Catholic education, Anne became a successful consultant in the education sector before joining ACU.

As Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students, Learning and Teaching), Anne has developed programs that empower students beyond the classroom. She continues to be a major influence in Catholic education.