The first semester of 2016 is now in full swing as we welcome record numbers of students after a successful Orientation Week across all campuses. You can see how successful it was by visiting the University’s Facebook page.
University can be daunting experience for first-year students so Orientation Week provided them with the opportunity to meet new people who are going through the same transition period. And it brought ACU to life for thousands.
Our campuses were thriving with fun activities. There was live music, free food, fresh smoothies made by bicycle powered blenders, and even martial arts displays. The stalls set up by student clubs and societies were teaming with visitors.
This year there are more students at ACU than ever before.
Growing student enrolments
Student enrolment reached 32,385 in 2015 representing a 75 per cent increase in enrolments since 2009. This is our eighth consecutive year of growth making us one of Australia’s fastest growing universities.
One of our targets under the Strategic Plan 2015-2020 is to become “an established university with over 30,000 students.”
This was not just a random number, or about growth for growth’s sake, but was based on a view on what a Catholic university is supposed to do.
We have obligation to extend the provision of education to more people and we have been successful in providing opportunities for students from a variety of different backgrounds. At ACU we open our doors wider and offer opportunity for transformation through education.
Greater student diversity
ACU continues to build on our commitment to inclusiveness through sustainable collaborative programs to recruit and support students from a range of different backgrounds.
We attract many students who are the first members of their families to ever go to university, and these people face unique challenges. They may feel alone, and don’t know what to expect or who to ask.
ACU is a place where the transition from high school to university is smoother – and that’s important. We have a tradition of being an inclusive and nurturing university, and we look after our new students.
ACU opens its doors to all students, and provides a university experience that is supportive and empowering.
Partnerships in low socio-economic areas
Our Equity Pathways program develops and builds partnerships in low socio-economic areas with connections to more than 200 schools, as well as educational providers and communities across the country.
Working with students from grades 4 to 12 and their parents, our aim is to raise student and parent awareness of higher education, raise higher education aspirations and provide pathways to university.
Approximately 12.8 per cent of all current ACU students, a total of 4,057 students, are from low socio-economic backgrounds, and we support the federal government’s aim to have 20 per cent of all Australian undergraduate students from low socio-economic areas by 2020.
Special consideration schemes
ACU has a number of special consideration schemes that are designed to identify students’ capacity to succeed at university and to identify the barriers that may have reduced their performance throughout high school.
In other cases a student may have had post-school experience that may be a better predictor of university success than their original ATAR.
ACU students admitted under special consideration schemes would include capable students recommended by their principals whose studies may have been interrupted by health, family or other reasons and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
We also focus on students from rural and remote areas, students with a good study record who have contributed to the common good at their school or in the community and a small number from refugee backgrounds.
Elite Athletes and Performers
We also support top sports people and artists through our Elite Athletes and Performers Program (EAPP), which includes Olympians and the very best football players from all codes. This year we have more than 300 students in this program.
And we attract a growing number of people from all over the world.
Last year we had 3,421 international students, representing a 14 per cent increase in international enrolments since 2013. Nepal provides the highest number of enrolments with 747 students in 2015 making up 22 percent of our international student body.
Most of our international students come from our Asian neighbours and after Nepal, China (455 students), the Philippines (342), Vietnam (256) and India (224) make up the top five countries.
Growing student satisfaction
Keeping pace with ACU’s impressive growth is a trend in student satisfaction.
The latest Student Experience Survey (SES) 2015 results show that ACU’s student satisfaction rates being above the sector average and up on 2014 results.
Regarding skills development, student satisfaction was 86 per cent last year compared to 83 per cent in 2014, and 5 percentage points above the sector average.
Satisfaction with the overall educational experience was 83 per cent for ACU in 2015. Three percentage points higher than the sector.
The survey results also showed:
Learner engagement was 67 per cent last year up from 66 per cent in 2014 and above sector average of 66 per cent
teaching quality scored 84 per cent
student support 75 per cent
learning resources was rated 88 per cent
workplace relevance was 93 per cent, up from 90 per cent in 2014.
Of the sample of ACU’s first year and final year undergraduate students invited to participate, over 46 per cent responded – among the highest sector response rates.
The feedback provided to us by students through major surveys such as the SES is highly valued by the University.
It not only provides encouragement to continue with what we do well but also gives focus to areas in which we can provide an even better experience for our students.