First Year ExperienZzz…

Last Week on Friday, Dr. Ruth Bridgstock, a lecturer for the Creative Industries Faculty at the Queensland University of Technology, attended our lecturer and replaced our usual lecturer Jaz (Jaz Choi) as the usual lecturer. Dr. Bridgstock explained to us the First Year Experience and defined it, as defined by the University’s Student Success and Retention policy as a

“…generic term used to describe students’ experiences in their first year at university. A good FYE is critical to all students irrespective of their discipline, course, type (research or coursework), level of study, or mode of engagement”.

If I were to recap Dr. Bridgstock’s lecture: Your First Year Experience is crucial to the rest of your University life. Don’t let all of the Universities flaws defeat your FYE. Flaws that if not revealed to us, probably would’ve stayed unknown to us. Bridgstock’s lecture was a crack at assuring us that the University and the CIF were working toward fixing all of the stuff wrong with the FYE, stuff that I didn’t even know existed or was need for concern. I think this lecture, instead of portraying the University in a constructive way as intended, portrayed it in a bad way…

We kicked off the lecture with the definition of the FYE and why Dr. Bridgstock was talking to us today — followed by an activity of evaluating our First Year Experience so far utilizing a live Q and A website. Our answers were a combination of hysterical, relatable and utterly serious: like losing fifty dollars on a GoCard terminal, complaining that parking is too expensive, and the ludicrous two-week delay to get your questions answered by faculty staff. Bridgstock then dug a bit deeper. We firstly and briefly looked at what the Australian Government is doing to improve University Education and the ‘policy agendas’ it is putting in place to do so. The Australian Government is looking at measuring and improving the:

· Quality of Education

· Graduate Outcomes and Employability

· Widening access and participation

· Impending fee deregulation and the market-driven system.

(Australian Government, 2015). I’ve started to notice that the Government is holding true to its word, particularly on the third point — the Gardens Point campus is covered in Government funded posters urging people to enrol in University, explicitly in the Information Technology (inclusive of Interactive and Visual Design) industry, an industry that I believe will be very prevalent in the future as new jobs to develop technology that will automate today’s jobs transpire. I see that as the Government doing their best to assure us that we’ve picked a desirable path to follow and assuring us that First Year Experience will be a worthwhile one. We then focused on our University, starting with the Creative Industries Faculty. Dr. Bridgstock wasn’t shy to reveal to us a couple of worrying facts regarding CIF, like the fact that at least half of the students enrolled in CIF were commencing their degrees in all three areas of study and consequently in the overall faculty.

Queensland University of Technology, 2016

We also learnt that the University has high attrition rates:

Queensland University of Technology, 2016

Dr. Bridgstock assured us that the University is aware of the ‘challenges’ facing First Year’s in their FYE. One of those being the attrition rates, the others being:

· Poor engagement and community, especially within the Caboolture and Kelvin Grove Campus’.

· Class-attendance rates dropping toward the third and fourth weeks

· A ‘problematic’ provision of student information and support.

Queensland University of Technology, 2016

Dr. Bridgstock continued her lecture talking about the steps and initiatives the University is undertaking to resolve these issues, plus others like a lack of parking. It was nice to hear that the University was working on fixing these flaws, however I couldn’t shake the thought that I could’ve chosen the wrong University to study at. I knew that I wanted to go to the Queensland University of Technology before I even knew what I wanted to study, but I began to doubt the decision to enrol at the Queensland University of Technology and not even give the other Universities a chance. I started to think about what life would be like at the University of Queensland or Griffith University — probably not a lot different but then again no one had personally pointed out all of the flaws with those Universities. It was at this point I realised that Dr. Bridgstock’s speech was doing a lot more harm than good.

Dr. Bridgstock was able to turn the lecture around toward the end when she started talking about the initiatives the University already takes to tackle previous issues — a lot to do with student support and ‘direction’. Including activities like Orientation Day and programs like QUT Services, Creative Industries Student Support, Student Success Program and other learning services.

Overall, I cannot help but feel I wasted those two hours of my life. I don’t blame anyone and I certainly don’t believe that Dr. Bridgstock delivered a bad lecture — even if I think that it was delivered in an unintended way that instead of portraying the University in a constructive way as intended, portrayed it in a bad way. I understand that the University feels the need to tell us all about their existing student services because without telling us, students will no doubt complain that they didn’t know QUT had a medical centre or a Student Services Desk. But I would rather they did all of this in Orientation (which I admittedly didn’t attend) because realistically I didn’t enrol in Interactive and Visual Design to learn about the Student Success Program, I enrolled to learn about Design and that is what I would like to do.

What I think about now when I heard the words First Year Experience.

References:

Higher Education. (2015). Department of Education and Training. Retrieved 7 May 2016, from https://www.education.gov.au/higher-education-0

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