In August 2019, the Student Learning Hub launched with the opening of UTS Central – a one-stop-shop for students to have their questions answered. The past year has taught us some key lessons on how to best provide students with support services.
1. The right information in the right place
Students look for support information when they have an immediate need, and finding multiple pages that contradict each other is a significant source of stress. A single, trusted source of information that is up-to-date, easy to locate and from a credible and relevant source makes our students lives much easier.
You have to check all of these places and you just don’t want to do it.UTS Student
I feel like dropping out because I can’t access information easy and have to search for it.UTS Student
2. The right help at the right time
Providing all the information to students at once may seem helpful but it is often overwhelming. Building on work from LX Transformation (LXT) and MCU, the Hub uses data from enquiry and service points, and student feedback to build a sessional student journey of services, engagements and the most relevant information (from a single source) to students as they need it during session.
We compared our data to feedback from the FFYE Forum in September, and we noticed a significant gap between students asking for advice from academics and accessing support services. Our next step is working with faculty to bridge that gap so students get the help they need sooner.
3. Students are looking for support based on their needs (not our organisational units)
If I didn’t know what that service was, I’d never click on it. But this is much easier.UTS Student
When students go looking for information or help, they seek it based on their most immediate pain-point, not how our units are organised. In 2019, LXT co designed a support framework through a human centred design process with students that recontextualises what we do, to how a student sees us. This framework has been implemented on the Supporting Online Study page to assist students in the transition to remote learning.
All the clear headings made it easy to go to the relevant page/ information you’re looking for.UTS Student
4. Belonging and the student identity matters
When students are asked to articulate what a better UTS experience looks like, it always involves a sense of belonging: a shared identity as students and being part of a broader UTS community. For newer students, that sense of belonging is tied to learning how to be a uni student: what a uni student does and how this is different to their previous experiences of study.
We’ve been working closely with various projects around campus, including the 2020 Student Forum, to see how we can build belonging and support the development of a student identity.
5. Quality engagement comes when we talk with students, not to them
The tone changes when they realise I’m a student too. They are more likely to open up.Student Learning Hub Guide
We’ve observed some interesting behaviours in students that have changed the way we operate our enquiry services:
Casual activities such as games, craft, or food break down barriers in communication between Hub Guides and students. A service enquiry is instead a conversation where students can feel heard and understood – assisting us to provide the most relevant advice.
We have also found that students will ask each other or approach us in small groups to have common questions answered. Striking the balance between being approachable but not always approaching students has been key here. Students may shy away from us when they see brochures or if we seem too keen on the hard sell.
The Student Learning Hub is located on level 4 of UTS Central or on the UTS website.