April 2016

From the Director; Staffing News; UON Prep; International Women's Day; Campus Cuppa Event; Art Exhibition; Staff Forum Lunch; Enabling Support Staff Group Meeting; Student Feedback on Courses (SFC) 2015; Workplace Health & Safety

Research Newsletter

For all the latest news on research in the centre please read the Research Newsletter

From the Director

ELICOS Intakes

The ELICOS program in Newcastle had 84 commence their courses in March, which is a slight increase on the same time last year. Our Centre in Sydney had 23 new students, which is also up compared to the same time last year.

International Activities

Our Marketing Manager, Tim Hyde, visited our partners in Vietnam and Mongolia (there were great variations in the temperatures with Mongolia been very cold) last month.  In our Sydney Centre our third largest cohort comes from Mongolia, and so Mongolia has become an important market for our ELICOS programs.

The Director visited the University of Tadulako, Palu, Indonesia, where he presented a paper to a conference hosted by a consortium of 29 Eastern Indonesian universities (CEISU).

The consortium  hopes  to send annually 20-40 postgraduate students to Newcastle, but they require English language training in country and they were considering the Language Centre to deliver this training.

Staffing News

Helen Fitzgerald retirement function

On the 4th of March the Centre bade farewell to our ELICOS Convenor, Helen Fitzgerald, who has worked at the Language Centre in various roles for the past 26 years.  Speakers at the well-attended and emotional farewell held in the Language Centre spoke of Helen’s great leadership skills, how well she supported her staff, her great skill in dealing with student issues, and her cool head when dealing with the many challenging situations that occur on ELICOS programs.

In her thank you speech Helen regaled us with stories of the early days of the ELICOS program; the varied locations ELICOS was offered at, both on and off campus, and the colourful staff and students she engaged with over the years.

We wish Helen well in her retirement.

Message from Helen:

Thank you everyone for your good wishes on my retirement. Despite being someone who doesn't like a fuss - I thoroughly enjoyed my farewell last Friday afternoon.  Thanks everyone who had a part in making it the special event that it was.  The event managing, catering, bubbly (my shout next time), decorations, slideshow, cards, speeches, wonderful gifts and fantastic company - I felt/ feel thoroughly spoilt.  The genuine warmth I felt was fantastic.  Thank you all so much for being part of it - and those of you who couldn't make it, you missed a great afternoon but I loved the cards and calls.  I really appreciated your friendship and support leading up to last Friday. It's been an emotional time - definitely time to make way for the next convenor but a time of massive change for me.

Today feels like Day 1 of Project "R" - after Body Balance at the gym with Sue, she went to the Language Centre to do exams and I headed off to Merewether Baths for a swim - and I ran into Julianne and then Elaine Perry, who used to teach at the Centre ... now home to finish reading my bookclub book.

Helen Fitzgerald Farewell

The plaque is on the piano, in the tradition started by Anne-Marie, flowers, balloons and cards are in the lounge room and the Fitbit is on my wrist - and I can see from yesterday's effort that I'm going to have to move a bit more to reach those 10,000 steps a day.  I'm looking forward to getting more zen and flexible at the Yoga Loft and choosing something from the lovely Studio Melt to remember you all by.

Thank you all so much.

Helen xx


Associate Professor Mahsood Shah left his role as Associate Professor Research in ELFSC on 31 March.  During his three years at the Centre, Mahsood played a leading role in leading the research effort in the Centre.

He played a key role in the establishment of the University’s  international journal “International Studies in Widening Participation” .

Recently he co-edited the book Widening Higher Education Participation : A Global Perspective with colleagues Dr Anna Bennett and Dr Erica Southgate which was launched last month by Professor Richard James from Melbourne University.

The Centre wishes him well in the next phase of his career.


Leah Hill will be starting 12 months parental leave in early May, as she, Calum and Seanna prepare for the arrival of a new family member.  Maureen Jones will be relieving in Leah’s substantive role during this period, whilst we welcome Alexandra Fowler back to the Foundation Studies Office (back-filling for Maureen).

We wish Leah and family all the best.

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UON Prep

The UON Prep summer term attracted 2715 registrations:

  • A total of 62 courses were completed over the period from 27 January through to 19 February. Both day and night classes as well as Saturday classes were held at Callaghan and Ourimbah.
  • 4 courses were offered at the Port Macquarie Campus.
  • 36 Academic staff and two administrative staff were involved with the program. The administrative staff and SPP are currently working on collating data and survey responses.

The 2016 registrations were higher than 2015 with a 65% increase in the number of online registrations.

UON Prep Data Table

The mathematics and the sciences had the highest number of registrations and the computer classes recorded the lowest number of registrations.

The Individual student cohort consisted of 86% undergraduates and it is interesting to note that there were 7 PHD and 4 postgraduate students.

UON Prep Table 2

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International Women's Day - Ourimbah Events

 International Womens Day Ourimbah

The International Women’s Day Expo 2016 was held at the UON Central Coast campus on Saturday 5 March. This annual family friendly event celebrates the achievements of women on the Central Coast, highlighting their participation in social, economic, cultural and political areas of the community including local, national and international women’s issues.

Holly Dillon and Mel Archer held a stall at the event promoting Open Foundation by showcasing inspirational women who have changed their lives through completing the program. It was a very successful day with over 1,500 in attendance, many of whom enjoyed the ice cream give-aways in such hot weather!

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Campus Cuppa Event

Campus Cuppa Event

Rosalie Bunn was also the guest speaker at the International Women’s Day ‘Campus Cuppa’ event, which was held at the Central Coast campus on Friday 11 March.

Rosalie’s well-received talk addressed the link between the “Pledge for Parity” and research on the impacts of the UON Open Foundation program on our community.

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Art Exhibition

Our two Visual Arts lecturers, Prue Sailer and Susan Ryman, have an exhibition at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra from 20 April to 8 May.

Further details can be found in the below invitation or by clicking here

Forbidden Fruit Exhibition Invitation

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ELFSC Staff Forum Lunch

The ELFSC Staff Forum lunch is no longer being held on Tuesday 5 April. The Date and venue will be announced shortly.

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Enabling Support Staff Group Meeting

The Enabling Staff Support Group met on 10 March.  The following points are items of interest from that meeting:

  • A Report Template will be developed for the members of the group to ensure a universal approach to the information provided for the meeting along with appropriate statistical data and also to assist with HEPP reporting.
  • A report on Orientation was provided by Jenny Williams along with a number of suggestions that will be explored for the mid-year orientation.
  • Elizabeth Bridges, Student Communications Manager, outlined her role and discussed the ‘Just-In-Time' Communications’ project.
  • The new Acting Yapug Convenor (Sharlene Leroy-Dyer) and Indigenous Engagement Officer (Adelle Grogan) attended the meeting and outlined their roles.  Both Sharlene and Adelle will be working from the McMullin building on varying days each week as a means to further support all Enabling Indigenous students.  A range of workshops will be held over the mid-semester break for Indigenous students to provide learning and development support. Students can register for these workshop via the Career Hub system.
  • Bronwyn Relf, SACO discussed her new role and the changes that have been made to the Student Conduct Rule.  At the suggestion of the Group Bronwyn has sent an email to all ELFSC staff outlining her role and has posted this information on the Foundation Studies Staff Blackboard site along with a copy of the ‘Rule’ along with the policy for easy access.

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Student Feedback on Courses (2015)

All enabling courses were surveyed in Semester 1 and Semester 2 2015 with ELFSC overall achieving higher mean scores than the UON mean for all 14 questions in both semesters.

2015 SFC Graph 1

2015 SFC Graph 2

Of the 64 enabling courses surveyed in Semester 1 2015, six courses (9.4%) achieved an Overall Satisfaction Score (OSS) of 5.00.  These courses are EPBIOL140 CCC, EPHLTH160 CAL, EPHUMA131 CAL, EPHUMA147 CCC, EPHUMA149 CAL and EPMATH135 CCC.  A further 11 courses (17.2%) received an OSS above 4.50, 29 (45.3%) scored between 4.0 and 4.5, 17 (26.6%) scored between 3.5 and 4.0 and only one course scored below 3.5. The overall ELFSC mean scores exceeded the University mean scores for all questions.

Of the 57 enabling courses surveyed in Semester 2 2015, four courses (7.0%) achieved an Overall Satisfaction Score (OSS) of 5.00.  These courses are EPARTS256 CAL, EPHUMA249 CCC, EPHUMA148 CCC and EPHUMA113 CAL.  A further 19 courses (33.3%) received an OSS above 4.50, 19 (33.3%) scored between 4.0 and 4.5, 11 (19.3%) scored between 3.5 and 4.0 and four (7.0%) courses scored below 3.5. The overall ELFSC mean scores exceeded the University mean scores for all questions.

SFC/ SFT Update

The University has implemented several changes to the Student Feedback on Courses (SFC) and Student Feedback on Teaching (SFT) surveys for this year.  Two of the changes are simply that all courses will now be surveyed each time they are taught, rather than on a rotating two year cycle, and copies of the SFC Comments will be automatically distributed to Course Coordinators for courses that have 10 or more enrolments and receive 5 or more responses.  Copies of the SFC quantitative and qualitative data for all courses will still be available to the Executive and senior management in the usual manner.

One significant change commencing in Semester 2 is that any course receiving an SFC score below 3.5 for Question 4: Teaching will trigger an automatic Student Feedback on Teaching (SFT) survey for all staff teaching into that course at that time when the course is next offered.  Only 7 courses in 2015 (3 in Semester 2) had a Teaching score below 3.5, so this will have a minimal impact on ELFSC.

These courses will be followed up along with courses achieving an Overall Satisfaction Score < 4.0 in line with the usual ELFSC process.

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Workplace Health & Safety

Free Confidential Counselling for Staff
Do you know about the Free Confidential Counselling via the Employee Assistance Program?

The University offers six free confidential counselling sessions a year for staff and their families to discuss personal and work related issues. You can either select face to face sessions during work hours or the 24 hour telephone counselling service.

To make an appointment simply call Life Matters Psychologists on Phone 4965 3530 or email contactus@lifematters.com.au

For further information please refer to the Employee Assistance Program

Please check the Work Health and Safety web page for current safety alerts.

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Items for the ELFSC Link newsletter are always welcome. The Newsletter is published early each month, with items due 2 weeks prior to publication. Please forward any items or queries to Jenny Williams, Leah Hill or Maureen Jones.