Student Success Team
Since 2011 the SST has provided both proactive and reactive support to students from LSES backgrounds
The Student Success Team (SST) supports students in their first semester at Charles Sturt University (CSU) through proactive contact campaigns.
The SST runs five campaigns each semester including:
- Welcome to CSU
- CSU Check-Up
- Failed Subject
- Risk of Exclusion
- Exit Interview.
The SST is staffed by specially trained (and paid) students from a purpose-built call centre on the Bathurst campus. These students are selected for their communication skills and are representative of the CSU cohort, spanning a variety of disciplines, ages and study modes, including distance education. In each campaign the SST phones students to discuss their situation, provide advice from their unique student perspective, and recommend specific CSU support services that are appropriate for their individual circumstances. Students receive a customised follow-up email with links to the support services discussed. Students who cannot be reached by phone receive a similar email and an SMS message. SST feedback from campaigns is provided to the broader CSU community for further action where appropriate.
The SST’s main objectives are to:
- assist students from LSES backgrounds make a successful transition into university, and
- provide support to students who show signs of disengaging from their studies.
The SST has been HEPPP funded since its inception in 2011. Based on the success of the pilot, the SST has also secured Student Services Amenities Fee funding expanding its scope to include enhanced orientation for Distance Education students.
The SST has experienced considerable growth since its inception. The number of students it has supported each year is represented below.
CSU recognises that LSES students enter university with diverse socio-cultural capital. Targeted support during the critical transition period assists students to master the role of student and bridge this socio-cultural incongruence.
In each campaign the group of students contacted via phone has a reduced rate of withdrawal in the vicinity of 2–9 per cent, compared with the group that the SST could not contact.
Students contacted by the SST by phone exhibit a lower rate of withdrawal and finish the session with a higher average Grade Point Average (GPA) than those students unable to be contacted (on average 3.5 per cent fewer withdrawals and an increase of 0.5 points GPA on a 7-point scale).
Based on the initial results from the SST, CSU are working towards integrating this project into the CSU learning analytics strategy and ensuring that the work of the SST becomes embedded into organisational practice.
“I was very grateful for the call. Really appreciated, and feel much more comfortable about my upcoming studies. The follow up email was fantastic too. Great information, very helpful and exceptionally welcoming. Thank you.” – CSU student.
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.