Forum reinforces links with regional schools

Published 26 June 2008

careers_forum.jpgPrincipals and/or Career Advisers from 19 secondary schools in northern NSW visited the University of New England yesterday for a half-day meeting with UNE staff members who provide key academic and support services for new students.

Some of the participants in yesterday’s Principals’ and Career Advisers’ Forum travelled to UNE from as far away as Grafton, Toormina, Bellingen, Gunnedah and Moree, while others came from schools in Tamworth and Armidale and throughout the New England region.

The UNE staff members presented information about new courses, pathways to UNE,  the residential college system, scholarships, and support services. Ed Campbell, UNE’s Student Experience Liaison Officer, explained his role in helping students have the most rewarding experience possible in their first year at university.

The Principals and Career Advisers heard about UNExtra, a new social networking Web site that allows potential students and Career Advisers to connect with each other and get news from the University. They also heard about UNE courses providing professional development for teachers – including several new postgraduate courses due to begin next year.

In welcoming the visitors, UNE’s Chief Development Officer, Mr Chris Patton, and Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Services), Ms Eve Woodberry, emphasised the University’s commitment to providing support services for  its students. Ms Woodberry mentioned in particular the highly successful work of UNE’s Oorala Centre (the venue for yesterday’s Forum) in providing educational resources, advice, and academic support for Aboriginal students.

Rhonda Leece, UNE’s Assistant Director of Student Administration and Services, led an open discussion that focused on – among other things – opportunities for students to gain early entry to UNE through the recommendation of their schools, and support services – particularly for students arriving at UNE from small regional schools. Ms Leece outlined the range of programs available – many of them through UNE’s Student Assist office – for students experiencing difficulties in academic, social, or personal aspects of their lives.

Appreciative comments from the Principals and Career Advisers confirmed that the high quality of students’ overall educational experience at UNE (regularly receiving a “five star” rating in The Good Universities Guide), and the high level of pastoral care provided in the University’s residential colleges, are among the most important factors attracting students to UNE.

John Kocek, a Career Adviser from Bellingen High School, said he had wanted to come to the forum to show his appreciation of the well-established links between his school and UNE. “The early entry scheme – the fact that UNE is flexible enough to admit students on the school’s recommendation rather than a Universities Admission Index score – is really important for our students,” Mr Kocek said.

UNE’s Marketing Manager, Sarah Wilson, who was one of the organisers of the event, said the Forum had been “well attended – and well received – by Principals and Career Advisers from around the region and beyond”.

“It’s vitally important for UNE to engage with its regional stakeholders in maintaining and developing communication and services into the future,” Ms Wilson said.

After lunch at UNE’s Mary White College, the visitors were conducted on a tour of the University’s new School of Rural Medicine.