The first international conference on tularemia: Ume

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Supporting and enhancing the diversity of our students' first year experience (FYE) requires that all of our institutional aspects – our philosophies, strategies and structures, our polices, processes and practices, and particularly our first year learning and teaching approaches and related support delivery – are integrated, coordinated and intentional in aid of early student learning, engagement and success. While this might seem trite, as observed in 2005 when reviewing a decade of Australian research into our students' FYE, " first year support efforts have tended to be piecemeal in the main, developed and sustained by individuals or small groups who champion the cause of first year transition. We have now reached the stage where universities must recognise the need for institution-wide approaches to enhancing the first year experience " (Krause et al, 2005, at 8.8.6). This keynote seeks to address this substantial challenge. How might all the institutional players integrate and coordinate their various excellent, but quite disparate, first year initiatives and work together towards more holistic and sustainable, institution-wide, approaches that transcend the silos of academic, administrative and support areas? How do we enact a whole, systematically-managed, vision for the FYE that is truly student-focussed and is indeed greater than the sum of its many parts? This paper will discuss how my institution, leveraging a strong base of existing work by the appointment of a senior academic as FYE Director, has sought to enact an institutional priority around undergraduate first year and to promote an organisation-wide ethos of the FYE as " everybody's business " . The five project areas identified and progressed will be presented, and the strengths and weaknesses of such an initiative will be discussed. Though it is understood and accepted that embedded institutional change of this nature may take as long as ten years to effect (Swing, 2003), the organisation partnerships nurtured and policy gains realised, even over one year, suggest that much can be achieved when an institution commits itself to coherency and seamlessness in delivering on the promise of a positive FYE for all of its commencing students.

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  • Gunnar Sandstr

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