Australian universities are committed to delivering a high quality academic experience to all students within a stimulating and nurturing environment in the knowledge that this will lead to better outcomes for their graduates and communities. Recognising that well-supported and well-engaged students achieve the best possible academic outcomes, Australian universities are increasingly investing in improving all aspects of the student experience from safety on campus to transport concessions, from suicide prevention to information about drug and alcohol abuse.
Ensuring students receive a complete and positive experience is fundamental to the educational purpose and responsibility of Australia's universities. The importance of ensuring a positive experience is evidenced by the number of programs and services developed by universities specifically to enhance the student experience, and in particular by the creation of senior roles within universities with specific responsibility for the student experience and student engagement. Many major projects within universities are being undertaken in close consultation with the student body; students are increasingly being viewed as a partner in delivering high a quality experience. Further to this, it is imperative that universities are able to identify the specific needs of different cohorts of students and create pathways to connect these students while supporting their individual needs, for instance international and domestic students; students relocating from rural and regional areas; students learning by distance or online; indigenous students; students from disadvantaged backgrounds; student with disabilities; and students studying at offshore campuses or at international partner institutions.
Students are seeking an intellectually and socially stimulating environment, embedded in a research culture with a wealth of extracurricular experiences available to them. They require access to efficient and effective support services and innovative and flexible learning spaces. In that regard, there are numerous factors that can impact on the student experience including the digital and physical infrastructure, teaching and learning spaces, the availability effectiveness of support services and opportunities for engagement - with other students, staff, researchers and the local community. Students are also seeking an assurance that their time at university will lead to a career and often graduate outcomes are seen as a proxy for the quality of an institution. Universities are in the business of producing highly educated, well rounded and qualified graduates that will make up our future workforce but universities also have a responsibility to ensure their graduates are globally competitive and that means graduates are culturally aware and connected.
Student safety and student well-being
Student safety and student well-being are preconditions for achieving that goal and universities are constantly striving to improve student support services on and, where appropriate, off campus. Providing this complete and positive experience contributes to the quality agenda that allows Australia to maintain its competitive edge. Australian universities have implemented an array of different programs and services to ensure students are safe and well equipped to deal with university life. In 2009 Universities Australia developed the Ten Point Action Plan for Student Safety. Universities Australia is in the process of developing a good practice guide for improving students services.