A new year ahead
The arrival of new and returning students around Orientation week is one of the most joyous moments of the year, invigorating our community with the aspirations of a generation. Several thousand students join us for the first time this year, navigating the novelties of campus and online life to begin their UTAS experience.
Their more experienced colleagues, returning to familiar environments, may notice some changes. Embracing the challenges articulated in our draft strategic plan, 'Open to Talent', we have been examining the UTAS learning environment, interrogating the ways in which we deliver teaching and learning, and extend and support those students who choose to study with us. From introduction to university life during O-week, through access to online resources, to the range of on-campus facilities and opportunities, UTAS has been paying close attention to the essence of the "student experience".
Close collaboration between UTAS and the Tasmanian University Union has brought many benefits including an improved model for student representation and engagement, and transfer of campus catering and student accommodation to the University. A consequence of this is increased TUU investment in student activities including concerts, movie marathons, comedy galas and market days as well as long term support for clubs and activities that underpin the social face of university life.
Refurbished outlets and an expanded range of food and drink offerings, guided by student input, should enhance the attractiveness of campus life and restore the social context that will be a memory for some alumni. New technology creates opportunity – in the future smartphones will be used to order designer hamburgers as lectures finish, to be collected en route to the next class.
There are new ways to enrol, new ways of keeping in touch before students arrive, and depending on pre-university experience, a choice of preparatory or foundation programs to assist transition to the university environment.
Significant investments in the online learning management system enable students to access this resource day and night, and there is a revised timetable to maximise the use of lecture spaces and other resources. 24 hour, seven day a week access to the Morris Miller Library on the Sandy Bay campus has been embraced enthusiastically by students in Hobart and is being considered for the library at Newnham in Launceston. Some nights security report nearly 100 students at work in the Morris Miller at 2am while the rest of us sleep.
Construction will commence shortly on the $90m National Rental Affordable Scheme student housing project, which will deliver 770 low-rent housing units for students across the three regions of the State. New locations, and new models of accommodation will expand our ability to cater for students from diverse backgrounds, and to bring the vitality of student life to Tasmanian cities. All this is part of the emerging UTAS student experience. We will continue to build on these initiatives: - but in the meantime, welcome back for 2012.