Ready, set, go! The lifecycle of successful student transition

Ms Cheryl Burgess1, Ms Karen Newson2

1The University of Newcastle, University Drive, CALLAGHAN, NSW, 2308,
2The University of Newcastle, University Drive, CALLAGHAN, NSW, 2308,, 

Changes to the Higher Education landscape in Australia has seen a once docile competitive arena turn into a sector where institutions play hard ball to grab students into their admission pool (Robinson, 2014). We know that student engagement is an important factor to student success and our comprehensive range of activities throughout the transition to university have been planned to address students questions early into their journey and provide them with the answers and support mechanisms needed for their success (Krause & Coates, 2008, p.485). Hence, the University of Newcastle’s approach to transition begins prior to the Offer period and tracks throughout first semester studies. UON follows three campaigns, Outreach to Offer (OtO), Offer to Census Date (OCD) and Census Date to Exams (CDX).  Outreach to Offers commences prior to and during offers period focusing on school and non-school leavers and offers programs such as  ‘Friends on Campus’  which is  a High School outreach program that combines Uni staff and students and  ‘Start Smart’  which is designed to engage non-school leavers.  Meanwhile includes Offers to Census Date involves student mentor programs and other targeted welcoming programs while   the Census Date to Exams includes coping strategies for stress such as ;stress less activities.  All the campaigns have multi layered and detailed targeted communications delivered alongside all activities. Student participation data is collected at each activity and analyse to show comparisons between those that participated compared to those that did not. To date students who participated have shown increased retention compared to those that have not.


Cheryl Burgess has over 25 years experience working in Higher Education in Australia.  Her experience covers managing the areas of international admissions, student outreach, and transition and retention programs at the University of Newcastle.  Cheryl is passionate about helping all students achieve success while studying. Cheryl has developed High School outreach programs and has presented at conferences nationally and internationally on student transition and retention strategies. Cheryl is the Senior Manager of Access and Transition at the University of Newcastle.

Karen Newson has over 14 years experience within Higher Education employed in numerous positions supporting the Student Life Cycle. Her experience covers Program Advice, Governance & Policy, Student and Academic Business, Credit & Articulation. Previously Karen worked collaboratively with TAFE and VET providers by developing pathways to University for non-school leavers. Currently Karen is responsible for coordinating High School Partnerships and Outreach Programs and is heavily involved with new student progression from offer to Orientation and first year transition support and advice.


The Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association Inc. (ANZSSA) is a professional association for people with an interest in the role of support services in post secondary education.

For more information, please visit ANZSSA website by


ISANA International Education Association is the representative body for professionals in Australia and New Zealand who work in international student services, advocacy, teaching and policy development in international education.

For more information, please visit the ISANA website at

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