Case Study I International student experience I Southern Cross University

The Southern Cross University ran the Enhancing the International Student Experience Project, which was funded by the Australian Government through Australian Education International (AEI), part of the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education and was conducted in collaboration with Universities Australia.

Aim of the Project

The aim of this project was to transfer important information about student support services effectively using an activity based approach and by using new and existing technology for the purpose of empowering students and enhancing their student experience, while simultaneously fostering social engagement. The project proposed a series of YouTube like videos that will be developed to present a documentary style case study scenario of student friends (domestic and international) in their first year of study.

Project Implementation:

  1. Incorporating videos at the beginning of info sessions to tell real student stories about issues and challenges that they have faced at university and how processed these challenges.
  2. Making information sessions more interactive by incorporating case study scenarios at the end of information sessions for students to discuss in small groups to decide on a suitable solution to overcome the issues or challenges presented in the scenario.
  3. Implementing a Pathfinder Boarding Pass Challenge that requires students to engage with the university’s support services and online facilities in practical and meaningful ways, while also providing opportunities to connect with other students, staff and community group members in order to complete a series of challenges.
  4. Incorporating Blackboard online learning facilities, which include Wikis, Blogs, Camtasia Videos, Elluminate Live! and Online Quizzes & Surveys in the Boarding Pass Challenges and elsewhere in Orientation Week activities in an attempt to familiarise students with the day to day functions of the University and build their confidence in using them before commencing their studies.
  5. Incorporating social activities for International students with local students or staff. Activities include informal Eat, Meet and Greet events where students have the opportunity to chat to various local community group members in a casual and non-threatening environment. Aussie Sunday Lunches are organised where students are invited to have lunch with a local Australian family and a variety of Student Association initiated social events.
  6. Incorporating a Pathway to Success board game into the Boarding Pass Challenge, to be played as one of the final challenges and which is designed to reinforce vital information in a fun and entertaining manner, while also giving students the opportunity to socialise with domestic students and staff.

Outcomes of the project:

The University observed that the students were eager to utilise the online learning facilities, but comments from the student surveys and feedback from the staff about the Boarding Pass Challenges indicated that in Orientation Week it was critical that the complexity of tasks that require students to utilise these facilities are kept to a minimum and some of the tasks should be undertaken in computer labs with staff support so that it is a more guided process for the students.

A number of students who did not complete the Boarding Pass Challenge informed the University’s project staff that they gave up because they experienced problems with the online tasks and so decided not to continue. This was a significant key finding from the student feedback and so the online tasks were critically evaluated for their complexity and altered accordingly.


Nan Bahr, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students) Southern Cross University shared her insights about the student experience processes in place at the University.

Here is what she had to say:

How do you drive a multi-faceted approach to student support?

There needs to be an overriding vision of the institutional values, and strategic leadership for general governance, and coordination of the support resources.

Tips & Tricks on creating a cohesive and connected context for strong student support?

Collaborative leadership team working direct to the University Executive

What are the strategies you use at Southern Cross University to enhance student experience?

Many and varied. But the most vital is the importance to attend to the diversity of student needs and expectations. This requires constant thoughtful evaluation of evidence of engagement, and experience, and incorporating within that forums to capture student voice.