July 7, 2017

Student Success: a call for authentic measures and support for collaboration.

The Innovative Research Universities (IRU) welcomes the informed perspectives this discussion paper adds to the discussions on student success in higher education and current metrics. IRU members echo statements that the reported “crisis of attrition” is an exaggerated response, yet acknowledge there is more the sector can and should do to support students to complete their studies.
The discussion paper provides commentary on a broad range of approaches to support students to make informed decisions about degree choice, explore their interests and opt out of higher education if it is not for them, or the timing is not right. The key concern moving forward is how universities create a supportive student experience, that enables success while also facilitating those that leave higher education to transition back when and if the time arises.
Redressing attrition remains a strong focus across the IRU, as members work to widen participation and support an above average number of students from diverse backgrounds. However the IRU is considering student success beyond the first year, to effectively respond to the completion gap for Indigenous, mature age and online students that persist across the sector. This focus was a key driver in the creation of the IRU Vice Chancellors’ Fellowship, a position that facilitates cross-institutional collaboration and the scaling of best practice across the IRU network to support student and graduate success. It is our view that the average Australian completion of 70% is just that, average, and we should be aspiring for much more.
The IRU has been clear in its opposition to the Government’s proposed budget and performance funding, (Students should not pay more for less). However our members welcome the opportunity to work constructively in reconsidering the ways in which the sector measures success and provides transparent information to students.