First Year Advisor Network
At 15 per cent, Murdoch has the largest number of LSES students in the population of the Western Australian universities
Murdoch University introduced the First Year Advisor Network (FYAN) in January 2011, after an internal university review highlighted the need to develop a formal approach to the first year experience. At 15 per cent, Murdoch has the largest number of LSES students in the population of the Western Australian universities. Additionally Murdoch University has a significant proportion of part-time, external, mature age, and regional students, indicating that the student population of Murdoch is diverse and may require additional support.
The FYAN acts as a generalised support to Murdoch’s diverse first year student cohort and as a hub to accessing specialised support at the university. It provides a range of community building activities and outreach ‘just-in-time’ interventions to all undergraduate first year students at Murdoch University. This university-wide approach has facilitated open channels of communication between the student, the FYAN, and all relevant academic and non-academic support personnel to ensure students receive up-to-date and individualised assistance when required.
The FYAN’s key objectives are:
- assisting first year undergraduate students at Murdoch in their transition to university, through both individual and cohort-based initiatives
- providing individualised support and promoting student access to a wide range of university services, and
- facilitating deeper engagement of first year students.
Fifteen full-time positions within the FYAN have been fully funded by the HEPPP since January 2011.
The FYAN can be measured in a number of ways, which are directly linked to the objectives of the program.
There is a large amount of student contact through the FYAN. Student engagement is generally viewed as a two-way process, which involves both the student and the institution. This active participation by the FYAN and the student demonstrates student engagement.
Support offered and promoted through student interactions with their FYAs has reached 29,927 incidents.
The FYAN recognises the need to be flexible to accommodate the changing needs of the student and staff population. Systematic and data-driven evaluations of FYAN initiatives occur on a regular basis and take into account student and staff feedback, outcomes of student contact, new research in the field, and data surrounding student retention and engagement. This process ensures effective initiatives are sustained or adapted to reflect the changing needs of the student and staff population.
The FYAN intends to use the systems, structures and initiatives already established to develop a suite of retention strategies and retention measurements at Murdoch.
This case study is one of a series of 39 presented in our case study publication, Access and Participation in Higher Education: Outreach – Access – Support.