Out of the ashes

Dayne Ngatuere1

Team Leader:Māori And Pasifika Student Support Advisors, Ara Institute of Canterbury

Widening access to and success in higher education is at the heart of the Ara Institute of Canterbury’s mission. We aim to support students, whatever their backgrounds, to reach their potential and fulfil their ambitions. Māori achieving academic success as Māori. As Māori means being able to have access to te ao Māori, the Māori world – access to language, culture, marae, tikanga and resources.
Earl (2007) suggests that the key intervention point for a successful transition to tertiary education appears to be in the first semester of the first year of study. The literature identifies that this hinges on the extent to which students are socially and academically connected and supported to feel welcome and confident engaging in the new tertiary environment.
The key transition barrier is Māori and Pasifika students being unprepared academically and unfamiliar with tertiary academic requirements and environment.
This leads to the students’ sense of isolation (Curtis et al. 2012). The barriers are easy to identify the issues arise around the enablers and opportunities. Enablers identified in the literature were often simply things that work against barriers; we focus on four enablers for Māori and Pasifika students: soft skill career preparation; space and time to establish relationships; culturally appropriate academic and pastoral support; and quality teaching practice. This led to the creation of He Toki ki te Rika, born out of the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake; a partnership was founded between Ara Institute of Canterbury, Industry and Ngāi Tahu (the principal Māori tribe of the Southern region of New Zealand).


He ao te rangi ka uhia, mā te huruhuru te manu ka rere. The sky needs clouds to clothe it. Birds need feathers to fly.
Ko Tararua ngā paemaunga
Ko Ruamāhanga te awa
Ko Ngāti Kahungunu te iwi
Ko Tākitimu te waka
Ko Kahungunu te tangata
Ko Dayne Ngatuere toku ingoa.

Dayne Ngatuere
Ara Institute of Canterbury
Team Leader: Māori and Pasifika Student Support Advisors

Dayne is the team Leader: Māori and Pasifika Student Support Advisors. He has a Bachelor in Political Science, from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and has been at Ara Institute of Canterbury since 2014.

Understanding well-being and mental health amongst higher degree research students – a framework for change

Dr Heidi Ellemor1

1La Trobe University Student Union, Upper Agora West, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia

Increasing evidence points to the extent and impact of well-being and mental health problems amongst higher degree research students, both internationally and within Australia. This research paints an alarming picture about the potential impact of current academic conditions on mental health and more broadly, student well-being (for example Levecque et al 2017). As staff providing support services to research students in the higher education sector, we see the way in which student well-being and more serious mental health issues effect and are affected by the research student experience. We know enough to tell us that the well-being of research students and their mental health is a significant problem requiring further attention, that our current organisational context is not helping (and indeed is a key contributor to the problem) and that our current support structures are not sufficient to mitigate the impact and provide the level of support that is required. It is in this context that we have begun work at La Trobe University to try to better understand how these problems are manifesting themselves within the higher degree research student population, how this intersects with the organisational context, and what we can do to change this. These are big challenges and we are only beginning to address them. In this paper we will report on the initial steps La Trobe University and the La Trobe University Student Union are taking to tackle this problem. This presentation will also explore ways in which universities and student unions can work together to improve support services, the student experience and educational outcomes for research students.


Heidi is a postgraduate student advocate at the La Trobe University Student Union. Her current role includes providing advice and support to postgraduate coursework and research students, developing students’ understanding of their rights and responsibilities and working collaboratively with the university to help address key issues. She is particularly interested in the challenges faced by higher degree research students and in working collaboratively with the University to improve support for research students. Prior to joining the LTSU advocacy team in 2012, Heidi worked as an academic, researching and teaching in Australia and New Zealand.

StudyAdelaide Employer Portal Campaign to connect international graduates with export-ready businesses

Ms Sarah Parrington1, Mrs Karyn Kent1, Mrs Tamara Bjordal1

1StudyAdelaide, Adelaide, Australia

With employability one of the key considerations when choosing an international study destination, StudyAdelaide has developed a campaign to promote the value that international students can deliver to businesses in South Australia, highlighting the existence of the temporary graduate (485) visa. A key component of the campaign is the development of a website (www.employerportal.com.au) that connects South Australian businesses with eleven of the State’s Universities and higher education providers. These institutions then assist the businesses to find the right international student or graduate.  The campaign focuses on connecting with industry sectors and organisations that are keen to enter export markets, or grow their exports, and highlight the unique skills and knowledge that international students can offer them. Three video case studies featuring Wines by Geoff Hardy, Hahndorf Inn and FCT Flames, have been developed to date. They highlight the great impact of international graduates or student interns have made in their organisations.  Beyond engaging with employers, StudyAdelaide, through the student engagement program, has run a dedicated employer ready initiatives for international students throughout 2017.  The key takeaway of this session will be to share the objectives and learnings that StudyAdelaide has gained through the implementation of this campaign. We will also discuss feedback from industry sectors and feedback from the participating institutions in terms of their successes and challenges in ‘matching’ international students with businesses. By December 2017, the campaign would have been in place for 12 months and thusenable us to track the interest and take-up by businesses and share this nationally.


Sarah Parrington joined StudyAdelaide in March 2015 as the Student Engagement Manager. This role includes events and activities for international students to get them involved in the local community.  This includes Australian Football skills and games, beach safety, Rundle Mall Pop Up.  Other key events include the Airport Welcome Desk, Lord Mayor’s Welcome, Governor’s Farewell and International Student Awards employment courses and more. Outside of work Sarah enjoys walking her dog Django and travelling.  She is looking forward to visiting many of the student she works with in their home countries over the next few years.

L1 scaffolding for international students learning in L2

Mr Titus Ng1

1Monash College, Ringwood North, Australia

Learning challenges faced by international students is widely recognised to be linked to their command of language. Learners with a different first language (L1) encounter additional cognitive burden when required to comprehend and apply new knowledge delivered in their second language (L2). While educators have started introducing the use of L1 in teaching English, which is by far the most common L2, to international students, there has been little extant research on the use of L1 in teaching other subjects delivered in L2. This study focuses on the development of L1 related scaffolds with the aim of lightening the cognitive load of tasks by reducing the demands on learners’ working memory and facilitating cognitive processing. Taking the constructivist approach to learning, which builds on prior knowledge of learners, in this case tapping into their first language and culture, four L1 related in-class scaffolds have been designed to move the students through their zone of proximal development.  Feedback from students have been collected through a survey, and the four scaffolds have been tested in the classrooms that used English (L2) in teaching management to international students at the diploma level. The presentation aims to discuss findings from the survey, lessons from the in-class testing of the scaffolds, and ideas on how institutions and educators can support students through providing L1 scaffolding.


Titus is a management teacher with Monash College in Melbourne. He has previously taught with the University of Melbourne, RMIT, Swinburne Online, and the National University of Singapore. He has an MBA from the University of Melbourne and is currently completing his PhD with RMIT. Prior to academia, he worked as a management consultant in Singapore, and has consulted for many organisations across Asia. He has worked in China for several years, is effectively bilingual, having taught in both in English and Mandarin Chinese, and is passionate in developing learning strategies for international learners.

Disconnections with the host nation and the significance of international student communities: Asian international students in Australia

Dr Catherine Gomes1

1Rmit, Melbourne, Australia

This paper look at Asian international students in Australia and their disconnectedness with local students. Here I suggest that these students create parallel societies for themselves in the host nation based on their identities as international students or as diasporic nationals. These parallel societies while impermanent exist for the benefit and support of their members throughout their transience. Through extensive interviews with 46 international students from Asia, my research reveals that these students hold aspirations for cosmopolitan mobility with ambitions to live and work in the big cities of Europe, North America and Asia with a view to return to the home nation eventually or possibly in the future. Moreover my study reveals that the respondents’ cosmopolitan mobility is encouraged by their lived experiences in Australia. Here I highlight their ability to form friendship networks with fellow international students from their home nation and from elsewhere in Asia. This they do, for a range of reasons, in lieu of friendships with locals. I also refer to their capacity to find a sense of belonging to their home nation through rapid developments in communication and media technologies.


Catherine Gomes is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Media and Communication where she teaches Asian Studies.  She was also an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow (2013-2016) and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Singapore Management University.  Catherine has worked extensively on the themes of of identity, migration, ethnicity, memory, multiculturalism and transnationalism in Australia and Singapore as well as on the information-seeking behaviour of international students in Australia.  Catherine is founding editor of Transitions: Journal of Transient Migration. She is author and editor of 5 books.

A decade of mentoring at Griffith: Reflections on the achievements and limitations of a model of central support for local peer mentoring solutions

Ms Laura Chandler1, Nathan Seng2

1Acting Program Manager, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Learning, West Moreton Hospital and Health Service; 2Senior Mentoring Coordinator, Griffith University

For the past decade, peer mentoring initiatives at Griffith University have been supported through a centralised program known as Mentoring at Griffith. Mentoring at Griffith has sought to expand and enhance mentoring through a series of strategies and activities focussed on training, development and recognition for student peer mentors combined with networking, consultation and resource provision for mentoring program coordinators. With around forty locally coordinated and funded peer mentoring programs operating in central elements, student organisations and Schools around Griffith, programs have relied on the available supports to differing extents over the years.

A recent review of the framework has highlighted the achievements and limitations of this model. A strong commitment to maintaining local ownership and coordination of mentoring programs has led to widespread use of peer mentoring to support transition and retention in the first year, but has also contributed to difficulties ensuring universal and equitable access to peer mentoring for commencing students across all campuses, including those studying online. For students, peer mentoring has been effective in supporting orientation, transition, social connection and academic success in the first year, but has not, as yet, been significantly expanded to support students during the challenging transitions experienced later in the student lifecycle.

This presentation will provide an overview of the review findings, outlining the most successful strategies and greatest challenges of this approach to the organisation of peer mentoring in a large, multi-campus university.


Laura Chandler has worked in student support and development roles in higher education over the past 20 years, including equity and widening participation projects, personal counselling, disability support, international student support and welfare related work. Over the course of her career, Laura has developed a passion for proactive peer support approaches, including peer learning and peer mentoring. She has coordinated and established many peer support programs over the years, including transitional and intercultural peer mentoring and peer learning programs, such as PASS. Laura served as the Coordinator of Mentoring at Griffith at Griffith University for eight years, where she supported the establishment and development of peer mentoring programs across the five campuses. She has been recognised for her work supporting student learning with a USQ Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning and induction into the USQ Teaching Academy. Recently Laura took up a position as the Acting Program manager at the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Learning and continues to find working with learners of all types energising, inspiring and hopeful.

Nathan is the Senior Mentoring Coordinator at Griffith University.  Mentoring at Griffith is a core component of the Student Transition and Leadership team and supports student development, retention and success through the coordination of peer mentoring, peer learning and student leadership initiatives across the University.  Prior to this role Nathan managed The Learning Space, a community partnership between Westfield and Griffith University.  Nathan’s experience includes almost 20 years of involvement with community mental health organisations, working with ex-prisoners, implementing the National Disability Employment Services Quality Assurance Framework and project management.

Training and developing first year experience mentors and building a community

Ms Nina Riikonen1

1University of Auckland, Faculty Of Arts, Auckland, Auckland CBD University Area, New Zealand


First Year Experience (FYE) mentors provide helpful assistance to new students transitioning into the faculty. Training, developing and engaging quality mentors is paramount to long term success. Students who volunteer as mentors not only develop skills and confidence, but gain many benefits from being part of the FYE community.

Research has shown that positive interactions with their mentees increases mentor satisfaction. In our FYE programme mentors mainly have email contact with their first-year mentees. While mentees can ask their mentors questions at any time, contact is centred on a weekly email which contains advice and tips the mentors write themselves. Contact is very high at the start of the year and drops substantially halfway into the first semester. Mentors regularly share that it can be hard to stay motivated when they receive few replies to their emails.

Mentors help the programme in various ways. We need them to regularly engage with events and student outreach. Over the course of two years we worked to increase mentor engagement and strengthen team cohesion. We did this through clear expectations, regular contact, face-to-face meetings and training days, requirements to report back, and community building. This presentation will outline how we created our mentor development structure, analyse which aspects were most successful, and show that by investing more time and resources in our mentors we not only improved our own programme, but also helped facilitate a strong mentor community which greatly benefits the students who volunteer for us and the students that they mentor.


Nina Riikonen is a Student Experience Adviser in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Auckland. She coordinates the faculty First Year Experience Programme, and also works with undergraduate orientation and student events.

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

Ms Cheryl Burgess1, Ms Karen Newson2

1The University of Newcastle, University Drive, CALLAGHAN, NSW, 2308, Cheryl.Burgess@newcastle.edu.au
2The University of Newcastle, University Drive, CALLAGHAN, NSW, 2308, Karen.Newson@newcastle.edu.au, 

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 anzssa.com.


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 www.isana.org.au.

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.