When Dr Sebastian Krook arrived in Sydney from his homeland of Sweden in 2007 to study an MBA at ACU he thought perhaps a career in business awaited him. Nine years later however the Student Experience Coordinator for the School of Law and Business is still at our North Sydney Campus and hasn’t looked back.
“After my MBA, I was given a scholarship to do my PhD here, and I probably wouldn’t have got that if I was somewhere else. At ACU I was given a full-time position, I was given a 457 visa … the university has open its doors to me,” he said.
Dr Krook finished his PhD in organisation studies at ACU in 2012, and since then has been focused on learning and teaching, mostly lecturing to undergraduates. He is also course coordinator for the all the undergraduate degrees.
In his role as Student Experience Coordinator for the School of Law and Business, at the North Sydney Campus, Dr Krook has become the go-to-guy for students who are experiencing difficulties. In fact, first-year students are given a flyer with his picture and are encouraged to “Ask Sebastian”.
He answers questions about course work, helps struggling students, provides guidance on ACU services and collects feedback about the University experience.
“I’m someone students can turn to, especially in first year, if they are unsure of something or if they are struggling with their course in any way,” he said.
Dr Krook said the new PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) program is also helping students to overcome academic obstacles. If a student is struggling with a challenging subject, such as statistics, they join an additional class led by a second or third year student who received a high distinction in that unit.
“Sometimes it is easier for students to relate to a peer,” he said.
Dr Krook said in the competitive environment of business and law degrees, ACU will always maintain its place as university that opens its doors to many different types of people.
“The school will carry on the ACU tradition of being open to people, who wouldn’t normally go to university. First-in-family students, those who are the first member of their family to go to university, are from disadvantaged families in many different ways.
“A low ATAR doesn’t necessarily mean that students won’t be able to perform well at a university level, although there is widespread prejudice against these students in higher education.
“The task of the school is to open its doors to these students, and when they come in try to give them an experience that is supportive and empowering.”
Dr Krook said students at ACU are more than a number and get extra support in many different ways.
“It is a big step for students who have come from high school and go to uni, especially if you are someone coming from a first-in-family background,” he said.
“You don’t have the support from home, like a dad or mum or older brother or sister who will tell you what it’s like. Then you step into a lecture theatre at a big university campus like Macquarie where there are hundreds of other students and you feel that there is no one to take your questions.
“ACU is a place where the transition is smoother and that’s important.”
Dr Krook said a current student, who is doing a dual degree in law and business, was originally at Sydney University but she joined ACU because she felt like she was just a number there and was left to her own devices.
If she didn’t perform well that was not the university’s problem.
“We take a different approach here. If students don’t perform well in their studies, we look for ways to improve our support and get students the help they need. We can’t change the academic standard that we need to adhere to as a university, but we can always make sure we have a supportive learning environment that empowers all students.
“We really do care a lot about our students.
“The student who left Sydney University and came to ACU said maybe it had something to do with the Catholic heritage of ACU where it does feel like a more caring environment.
“If a student has picked up on it – maybe there is something there.”