The Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) has recently welcomed the new Student Academic and Career Success team which incorporates Careers and Employment and The Learning Centre as part of the portfolio.
We’ve invited the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) Professor Geoffrey Crisp, alongside Head of Careers and Employment, Margo Baas, and Acting Director of The Learning Centre, Pamela Mort, to share their reflections on this exciting merger and to explore its benefits for education and student outcomes at UNSW.
Improving our student services and the student experience
“I was very excited when the possibility for Careers and Employment and The Learning Centre joining the PVC (Education) Portfolio was proposed. These two student-facing areas are providing core enhancement services for our students and we saw the opportunity to integrate their work with the more staff-facing activities of our other PVC(E) areas,” said Professor Geoff Crisp.
“Learning Centre staff come from a range of backgrounds and bring many skills and experience to the art of academic support,” said Pamela Mort. “Since 1996, The Learning Centre has enabled a diverse range of students to access university study though our pre-entry / preparation programs. Our staff bring a unique and critical understanding of students' needs and the student experience due to our focus on academic literacy and communication skills development in both generic and discipline-specific contexts.”
“We currently engage with 50% of students (combination of Gen Ed course, events, and appointments). Careers education shouldn’t be a deficit model (only engage if you need it) but core business. Being part of the PVC (Education) Portfolio will increase our reach, assist educators to deliver these skills as part of the curriculum and not only improve our graduate outcomes but the whole student experience,” said Margo Baas.
Benefits to UNSW education
“Being able to offer career development learning into all programs is a priority for UNSW and bringing the expertise of Careers and Employment together with the academic development and curriculum design and delivery expertise of the PVC(E) seemed like an ideal match that would significantly benefit our students,” said Geoff. “Likewise, the excellent work of the Learning Centre in providing English language support and academic skills programs was seen as being well matched with our priority work on scaling support for our international students, both within and outside of their courses.”
“Students are used to following a structured course outline across their student lifecycle. If we include careers education or the development of employability skills side by side to their academic course work, it will prepare the students not only for their first job after University but also for managing their career in the long term,” said Margo. “There already is a lot of great work happening in relation to Work Integrated Learning, experimental learning and authentic assessments at UNSW. Instead of bolting on career development learning, Careers and Employment can provide advice, support and resources to deliver this alongside the curriculum and therefore improve the whole student experience during and after their time at UNSW. We often hear graduates say, 'I wish I had known about Careers a lot earlier'. If we can deliver it from first year and scaffold it across the student lifecycle, tailored to their field of study, it will improve their experience and make our work more efficient and effective.”
“It is exciting to have the opportunity to be exposed to new people, resources, and technologies so we can explore new possibilities in how we design and deliver our programs, courses and learning resources. The challenge will be identifying and developing sustainable and scalable approaches to achieve our goals,” said Pam.
Strength of integration and collaboration
“Positioning Careers and Employment in the PVC(E) Portfolio is important because Career Development Learning (CDL) needs to be integrated into programs, as most students will not voluntarily seek it out. By utilising the Digital Uplift strategy and utilising online learning at the program level, the merger addresses the current issues of trying to embed career development in over-crowded course curriculums, provides greater flexibility for students and programs, and saves staff time from repeat presentations,” said Margo.
“Learning Centre is traditionally student focused. We also have extensive experience collaborating with academic staff. However, we are a small unit in a very large organisation. We are hoping as part of PVC(E) we can find synergies and new approaches, so we can support even more staff and more students in order to meet our goals,” said Pam. “The Learning Centre has collaborated extensively with academic staff to develop courses, programs, resources and lessons which our students value and find helpful.”
“The staff from all areas have welcomed each other and look forward to further promoting the PVC(E) Portfolio mantra of working in partnership with all areas of UNSW.
We have an exciting 2019 ahead as we work together to enhance the student experience and the academic and life outcomes,” concluded Geoff Crisp.
To contact the PVC(E) teams, head to the Staff Page on Teaching Gateway.