A collaborative investigation:ALTC logo

Adelaide University logo

Flinders University logo

UniSA logo


Student & SSEE Presentation and Networking Event
Register here for the Presentation and Networking Event

Student and Staff Expectations and Experiences Project

This project is a collaborative investigation between three universities in South Australia, The University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the University of South Australia. It has been funded by The Australian Learning and Teaching Council.


Statistics show that of all students entering Australian universities one-third fail to graduate and of those students who withdraw from their programs over half withdraw in their first year.

Students preparing for tertiary study may do so individually or via school, government and university initiatives. Many students, however, still experience an early 'reality shock' during their first semester rather than a smooth transition to university.

The mismatch between students' expectations and experiences has ramifications for their learning, satisfaction, retention and ultimately, their wellbeing.

The Student and Staff Expectations and Experiences project aims to explore what creates this gap and address how it can be minimised.

By gathering the opinions of students, school teachers and lecturers of first year students, we are aiming to explore all points of view to ensure a comprehensive investigation.

The importance of the first year student experience has been highlighted by Professor Pascale Quester, Deputy Vice-Chancellor & Vice-President (Academic), The University of Adelaide.

" Universities are very different to schools or other environments our students may have come from. As education providers, it is our responsibility to ensure that the transition to university is as smooth as possible, enabling each student to adapt to his or her new learning environment. A positive experience is the best foundation for a productive period of study and we are aware of the critical importance of the first few months at uni in providing a foundation for what we hope will be lifelong learning. To this end, early diagnostic and intervention is the best approach and we strive to assist each and every one of our students so they can achieve the learning outcomes and develop the graduate attributes associated with their program of choice."


Project Progress 2010/11

We surveyed over 6000 commencing first year students in S.A. during the Orientation period 2010/11. These results form the basis of what we know about student expectations.

We surveyed continuing students during second semester 2010 to determine their actual experiences of their first year.

We surveyed senior secondary-school teachers to gain an understanding of both their expectations of students and what students will face at university.

We surveyed University lecturers, tutors and practical demonstrators of new university students to obtain their expectations of students.
These surveys provide a rich source of data and anecdotal information that help us to understand where the gaps are and what can be done to make the transition to university smoother. The data will be used in presentations at conferences and in journal articles published this year.

Want to know more?

Read more about this research project online, read our blog or contact us to join our mailing list and stay up-to-date with the progress of this research. Also, please feel free to let us know if you have any further questions and one of the project staff will get back to you.

Support for this project website has been provided by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council Ltd, an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

The views expressed on this project website do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Learning and Teaching Council.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.