Students rate their experience at Avondale as #1 in Australia

Avondale University students Taine Stevens, Ellie Penman, Sela Uilou and Tyler Peterson.

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Study isn’t the only big thing in Sela Uilou’s life. She works. A lot. She serves in a leadership role on campus. And she ministers through music in her local church. So, having someone who understands these sometimes competing priorities makes a big impression. That someone is one of Sela’s lecturers, counselling strand convenor Paul Bogacs. His influence and that of a community of what are likely to become lifelong connections has created a safe place in which to grow. The message Sela’s received: “I’m going to be OK.”

The final-year chaplaincy major is one of about 500 students whose responses to a government-endorsed national survey rank Australia’s newest university as number one for satisfaction with quality of the overall educational experience. What stands out about Avondale is its people, says Sela. “The classes are a bit smaller, so you really get to know your classmates and lecturers. They can help not only with your education but also with your wellbeing.”

Sela and other undergraduates who completed the 2021 Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching Student Experience Survey also rank Avondale as number one for satisfaction with quality of teaching practices and skills development. Satisfaction against each indicator improved in 2021, with the biggest improvement being with quality of the overall educational experience (up seven per cent).

The results of the survey, released on August 29, “are an indication of the commitment our staff make to our students,” says vice-chancellor and president Professor Kevin Petrie. “Their desire to transform lives through Christ-centred higher education runs deep. They consistently go the extra mile to engage our students in authentic, faith-based learning and discovery.”

Avondale has a history of high rankings in the survey, but the most recent survey is significant for two reasons.

One, it is the first time Avondale has been benchmarked with other universities. “So, to achieve the highest overall student satisfaction ratings of any Australian university is a remarkable achievement,” says provost and senior deputy vice-chancellor Professor Kerri-Lee Krause. Two, the survey was conducted during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, “so the ratings are also a testament to the resilience of our students.” And to the care of staff members. “They take a personal interest in the wellbeing of their students,” says Kerri-Lee. “I’ve seen the effort they put in to get to know students by name. My own research confirms the importance of these practices in enhancing student learning.”

In course-specific results, the Bachelor of Nursing has maintained its number one ranking across all student satisfaction indicators and the teaching courses are ranked number one for learner engagement. These rankings compare Avondale will all the Australian universities and higher education providers offering the courses.

While success is worth celebrating, the survey also gives data to inform ongoing improvement in areas such as preparing students with a range of employability skills and investing in digitally-enhanced learning resources.

“It matters a great deal to know our students are having a positive learning experience,” says Professor Krause. “Their voice is key to shaping our student-centred strategy.”

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