NavigateMe: A gateway to students’ greatest potential

Mr. Jeffrey Meesterman, Ms. Rita Kusevkis-Hayes, Dr. Colin Clark, Ms. Jessie Lui, Ms. Jessica Luquin,

University of New South Wales, Student Life

Online interactivity, late night accessibility and anonymity are key to encouraging students to reflect upon their academic achievements. At UNSW, NavigateMe is an online self-help tool that provides immediate and personalised information based on students’ responses. The tool refers users to university services and suggests ways in which they can change their lifestyles or personal habits to improve their university experience. NavigateMe engages students with university services, encourages them to reflect on personal goals, and assists them to achieve their greatest potential during their studies. Students use the tool for various reasons at different times throughout the academic year, and some students use the tool on a frequent basis. The tool was developed and is continually enhanced through a collaborative and iterative process in consultation with staff, students and faculties. Continual enhancements are made to assist students to improve their university experience.


Mr Jeffrey Meesterman has a bachelor’s degree in International Marketing from the University of Utrecht. He has experience in the digital space, marketing, graphic design, designing surveys and recruiting participants for focus groups,managing/supporting student groups and fostering collaboration across departments.

Ms. Rita Kusevskis-Hayes is the Senior Project Equity Manager for Student Life (DVCE) at UNSW and has previously been employed in a number of organisations, such as the NSW Department of Education, Vision Australia, University of Sydney, University of New South Wales and TAFE NSW. Her current position presents a broad range of challenges such as managing HEPPP funded projects and a national grant on Disclosure across universities in Australia. Rita is currently involved as a co-researcher with the Global study on Disability and eLearning.  She manages various support services for students including the Disability Services Unit. Rita has been actively involved in Equity & education for more than 20 years in a range of contexts.

Rita has introduced digital innovations such as (NavigateMe) assisting students to boost their performance and access support across faculties as well as an online self-assessment tool for academic language proficiency.  Rita has taken a systemic approach to interventions and data analysis in equity and student support—using quantitative and qualitative methods to assess the impact of interventions. She has provided information for the Federal Government Higher Education Partnerships and Participation Program (HEPPP), the Academic Board and the UNSW Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Board.

Enhancing student disclosure: Australia’s invisible equity students and reasons for non-disclosure in Australia’s tertiary sector

Dr Colin Clark1, Ms Rita Kusevskis-Hayes1, Mr Matthew Wilkiinson1

1University Of New South Wales, Kensington NSW

Many students in tertiary institutions who are eligible for equity consideration and accommodations decide not to disclose their equity status. Discussions of equity disclosure concern fears of stigma, questions of purpose, and the relationship between visibility of equity status and disclosure. This paper reports on the concept of self-disclosure of equity group membership at university. This study is the result of a HEPPP-commissioned project to investigate the factors that encourage domestic students from identified equity groups to self-disclose this information to higher education providers.

The project considers three key equity groups:

  • Students with disabilities
  • Indigenous students
  • Domestic students from non-English speaking backgrounds (NESB)

An understanding of nondisclosure would inform future policy and program design to encourage disclosure of hidden subpopulations with specific needs. In this article, we review the literature on disclosure, considering common themes and discussions around these three equity groups. We report on preliminary findings from a survey of university equity service staff on their perceptions of reasons for nondisclosure. When the study is complete, with student surveys and interview/focus group data, the information will be used to generate guidelines to help universities plan equity support measures, allocate appropriate resources and train staff.


Dr. Colin Clark has been involved in tertiary education in academic and support roles for over 20 years. He has published research using multimethod qualitative and quantitative methods in the Journal of Business and Technical Communication, Journal of Asian Business and has a paper currently in second stage of review in Academy of Management Discoveries. His doctoral thesis won the 2012 Association of Business Communication Outstanding Dissertation award.

Ms. Rita Kusevskis-Hayes has previously been employed in a number of organisations, such as the NSW Department of Education, Vision Australia, University of Sydney, University of New South Wales and TAFE NSW. Her current position is Senior Engagement Coordinator of various support services for HEPPP-funded students offered at UNSW. Rita has been actively involved in education for more than 20 years in a range of educational contexts.

‘Just what the doctor ordered’: Promoting wellbeing with medical students

Dr Hannah Sloan1, Ms Danielle Clayman1

1 The University Of Melbourne, Melbourne VIC

The tertiary student experience is not the same for all. Some students navigate the challenges of student life and flourish amidst stresses, whilst others experience considerable distress and disengage (Stallman, 2010; Larcombe et al., 2015). Much research has sought to identify what factors contribute to students thriving at university and what constitutes a successful student. Medical students have long been thought of as ‘successful’ students with high academic attainments and abilities, however recent research suggests medical students experience higher rates of mental health distress and suicidal ideation compared to the broader student population (Rotenstein et al., 2016). In recognition of the challenges faced by medical students, the Melbourne Medical School developed a new proactive approach to student support through the appointment of two Health and Wellbeing Practitioners. The Health and Wellbeing Practitioners have adopted a ‘Health Promoting University’ strategic model (Okanagan Charter, 2015) that focuses on the implementation of proactive individual interventions and group based programs. These programs have been designed in close consultation with medical students, and seek to broaden the scope of what constitutes a successful medical student to include mental wellbeing. This innovative approach to medical student health and wellbeing demonstrates a school wide, preventative-based approach to promoting student mental health. The authors detail the design, delivery and evaluation of this evidence based model to student wellbeing.


Hannah is the rural based Health and Wellbeing Practitioner, supporting medical students across their long term rural clinical placements. Hannah is a clinical psychologist and has practiced in both public and private sectors. Hannah’s research interests are in the area of student mental health, coping styles and adjustments to student life.

Danielle is the metropolitan based Health and Wellbeing Practitioner, supporting metro and outer-metro based medical students. Danielle is a Social Worker with extensive experience in community based settings, as well as the tertiary sector. Danielle has a particular interest in mental health promotion and addictions, as well as student equity issues

Better pathways to success? – A study of foundation studies alumni

Ian Teo1, Shanton Chang2

1Trinity College Foundation Studies, Trinity College; Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education, The University of Melbourne; 2Melbourne School of Engineer, The University of Melbourne

Foundation studies (or pathways) programmes (FSPs) seek to prepare international students for their transition into university by providing bridging courses to meet their academic, sociocultural and personal needs. According to StudyPortals and Cambridge English (2016), the growth of such programmes over the previous decade has boomed to over 1,000 English-medium providers worldwide and has been valued at $1.4 billion with no indication of slowing down. While these programmes serve an instrumental purpose in terms of providing international students with a pathway into university, it has become clear that these students seek more than just a qualification by the end of their sojourn, and value also the quality of their broader relationships, preparation, and participation at university (Teo, 2016). For more than 25-years, Trinity College Foundation Studies (TCFS) in Melbourne has served to prepare international students for their higher education studies. The present study will report on quantitative and qualitative data derived from TCFS alumni who were surveyed at the start of 2017. In particular, two branches of alumni-related expectations and experiences will be addressed. First, the types of extra-curricula activities respondents reflected upon as being important for their broader welfare or well-being while enrolled as foundation students will be discussed. Second, findings involving the types of supports they sought during and after university, and the ways in which they wished to reconnect with TCFS will be described. Implications and recommendations relating to the aforementioned data will subsequently be presented.


Ian has been working within the Trinity College Foundation Studies since 2004. For much of this time he taught as a Psychology lecturer within this program while pursuing postgraduate qualifications in Higher Education. His PhD thesis, “Transitioning from a Chinese education to an Australia education – A study of FSP students”, emphasised the critical role that the social dimension has in shaping international students’ university experiences. Since 2016, Ian has transitioned into the role of Research Coordinator: Foundation Studies Program to further investigate issues relating to international education and provide research support for Trinity College staff.

Seeking academic help: A case study of peer brokering interactions

Sherrie Lee1

1University of Waikato

The literature often depicts international students as deficient due to poor English language skills and limited participation in class, thus positioning them as lacking in agency or habitually weak (Marginson 2013). This paper reframes international students as resourceful learners by focusing on their academic learning through brokering, that is, help-seeking social interactions. Understood as part of informal learning practices, brokering interactions take place when students seek assistance with unfamiliar academic texts and practices from brokers, that is, those who are able to bridge cultural and knowledge gaps.

The paper reports on research which investigated brokering practices among ten international EAL (English as an Additional Language) students in their initial semester of study at a New Zealand university. In particular, the paper examines the brokering interactions between two participants, Linda, a first-year student, and her broker Emily, a fellow Mainland Chinese student who provided information and advice about various academic tasks and situations. A conversation-analytic approach that views brokering as asymmetrical knowledge positions is used to analyse twelve episodes of brokering interactions in Chinese which took place through WeChat, a mobile phone application. Initial analysis reveals that the dynamics of brokering interactions between Linda and Emily were characterised by a display of social solidarity, even as seeker and broker negotiated their knowledge positions over information or advice offered by the broker.

The paper concludes that peer brokering between same language speakers provides a collegial space in which students exercise agency by utilising sociolinguistic resources. Thus educational institutions should recognise the importance of international students’ informal academic learning and increase opportunities for EAL students build and enhance their social connections with peers as part of a holistic approach towards academic support.

Keywords: Academic learning, brokering, conversation analysis, informal learning, international students, peers


Sherrie Lee is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Education at the University of Waikato. Her doctoral research examines informal academic learning, in particular, brokering practices, among international students at a New Zealand university. She is an executive committee member of ISANA International Education Association New Zealand, and the past president of the Postgraduate Students’ Association at the University of Waikato. Prior to doctoral studies, Sherrie was a business communications lecturer at a polytechnic in Singapore. She writes about her research interests on her personal blog

Contact: University of Waikato, Faculty of Education, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand.  E-mail:

Challenges of Saudi international students studying in Australia

Naif Daifullah Alsulami1

1Umm Al-Qura University, Mecca, Saudi Arabia

This paper reports on the analysis of a narrative discussion group facilitated by the author as a part of a large study. The participants of this study are six male Saudi Arabian international students who are enrolled at different universities in Victoria in Australia. This paper aims to answer this question: What are some challenges that male Saudis experience as international students in Australia? Participants announced some challenges that they have experienced as international students in Australia. These challenges include academic challenges, cultural challenges, personal challenges and challenges with the Saudi Cultural Mission (SACM). Recommendations for future researchers and implications for practitioners are provided.


Niaf Daifullah Z Alsulami has a Master of Education specialising in international education from Monash University in 2014. He has started his PhD candidature from 2014 at Monash. Between 2010 -2012 he worked at Umm Al-Qura University in Mecca as a teaching assistant and researcher. Naif is an experienced teacher and researcher. He has experience as a qualitative researcher


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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