ELFSC 2015 Overview

Student numbers in the Centre

Across all our programs it can be quite challenging to meet our target numbers.  The duration of ELICOS stays range from 2 weeks to 50 plus weeks so there is a constant "churn" of students, and with enabling we have one semester and 2 semester programs.  This year we met our targets for our three enabling programs and our numbers in ELICOS in Callaghan increased by 9.7% and Sydney by a marked 73%.

Research Achievements

2015  been an enormously successful  year for the Centre in obtaining external grants for its research activities, with the Centre receiving over $700,000 in external funding from the OLT, HEPP NPP,  and NCSEHE.

Seamus Fagan (Project Leader), Sally Baker, Evonne Irwin and Helen Cameron were awarded an OLT grant: Title: (Re) claiming social capital: improving language and cultural pathways for refugee students into Australian higher education Lead institution: The University of Newcastle and partner institutions Curtin University, Macquarie University $347 000

HEPP National Priority Project Success- Dr Anna Bennett led the Critical Interventions Framework Part 2 HEPP National Priority Project in partnership with Ryan Naylor, Richard James and Chi Baik from the University of Melbourne, and Andrew Harvey and Matt Brett from La Trobe University.   $205,262

2015 National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) Grant success - Co-investigators Anna Bennett, Seamus Fagan and Cathy Burgess. $29,600

Educational Aspirations and participation of Indigenous Women of Reproductive Age in Regional, Rural and Remote Communities The Leslie Family Foundation - Professor Penny Jane Birke, Dr Kym Rae, Professor Peter Radoll, Associate Professor Maree Grupetta, Associate Professor Seamus Fagan, and Sher Campbell  $55,600

There are 2 other grants that staff at ELFS have been awarded but they are currently embargoed and they are to the value of $49,997 and $39,000 respectively

Other Achievements

It has been a very successful year for Associate Professor Kathleen Butler, the Yapug Convenor and senior staff member at the Wollotuka institute, who in March she was named the Diversity Champion at the Hunter Diversity Awards, launched at the International Women's Day breakfast in Newcastle and in July she was awarded a National OLT Teaching Fellowship on "Sociology technology and Indigenous issues".

The ELFSC Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in enabling programs was awarded to Kristen Allen from Newstep and Deputy Convenor Foundation Studies at Ourimbah and the ELFSC Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award for International Programs was awarded to Sue Hodgson from the Language Centre at Callaghan. 

In early 2015 3 staff received staff recognition awards; Helen Fitzgerald (25 years) and
Maureen Jones (15 years) and Barry Hodges (15 years). Later on in the year the following staff also received 15 year awards; Michelle Challinor, Paula Sherry, Maureen Townley Jones, Antonia Vujeva, and Susan Wright

Jenny Williams, AnChi Baxter, and Lynette Dennis won the Academic Division Award for Health and Safety Excellence for the great work they have done to make the Centre a safer and healthier place to work in.

On February 2 this year our Academic Survival Skills Online (ASSO) was launched as a MOOC, a free, open, online course. By the end of the moderated period 941 people enrolled in ASSO, 792 were commencers in the UONPrep Summer Program, an 86% increase from 2014.  The rest of the commencers came from other institutions around Australia. 

Brian Smith Widening Participation Public Lecture

For our Brian Smith Widening Participation Public Lecture we were fortunate to have Mr. Craig Ritchie who is an alumnus of the University and was formerly the Branch Manager, Access and Participation Branch in the Australian Government Department of Education, and is currently the Branch Manager, International Mobility Branch of the Department of Education. Craig spoke to an engaged audience of close to eighty people on the topic "Margins to the Mainstream" 

Our Recognition of Attainment Ceremonies     

The Attainment Ceremony for our enabling students from the Callaghan Campus was held on the 16 April at the Civic Theatre, as part of the University's 50th year Celebrations.  Attainment Certificates were presented to our students completing the Open Foundation, Yapug and Newstep programs.

We were treated to inspiring speeches by our 3 student speakers who outlined how enabling education transformed their lives. We were pleased to have as our Occasional Speaker, Professor Penny Jane Burke who is the newly appointed Global Innovation Chair of Equity & Co-Director Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education at our University.  Professor Burke began her academic journey through an enabling program in the UK.

The Recognition of Attainment Ceremony (ROAC) for our 2014 completing Ourimbah students was held on the 2nd of July on the Ourimbah Campus. The Occasional Address was given by Ginny (Virginia) Gallego who is a former student of the University, having completed the Intensive Open Foundation program at Ourimbah in 2005, and subsequently completing a Bachelor of Management with a major in Marketing in 2009. We also had inspirational speech from our student representative.


In June staff at the Language Centre were devastated at the passing of their colleague Lynne Wilson after a battle with cancer.  Lynne was a highly regarded teacher by both her colleagues and her students and will always be remembered for her smile and her love and care to staff and students. As a memorial to Lynne the Language Centre has inaugurated the annual Lynne Wilson Student Achievement Award.

In early December Associate Professor Jo May retired after serving for 3 years as Associate Professor Teaching and Learning and Deputy Director of the Centre. Jo has had a long association with enabling programs and ELFS, starting as a tutor in the Newstep Program in 1991. In 2002 Jo was appointed Newstep Convenor and in 2004 played a key role as Convenor of the first National Enabling Educators of Australia Conference held in Newcastle.  Jo has played a major role in the enhancement of the learning and teaching in the Centre.  Jo's work in the Faculty proved invaluable to us as we moved to bring our courses more in line, where possible, to those in other areas of the University. We wish Jo all the best in her retirement.

In April our Student Experience Co-ordinator Robyn Gentemann left the Centre to live in Northern New South Wales. Robyn started teaching with the Language Centre in 2007 but for the last few years has been the Co-ordinator of the successful Student Experience Program. This program is recognised nationally as an exemplar of best practice in meaningful student engagement and culminated in Robyn and the Centre winning the 2014 English Australia Award for Innovation.

At the end of month, 2 Open Foundation Staff will leave their positions

Dr Susan West has decided to retire from the University she has coordinated and taught the Australian History courses in the Open Foundation since August 2004. Susan has offered the courses at Callaghan, Ourimbah and by Distance. When the Centre decided to turn the Open Foundation by Distance into a fully online program, Susan was part of the team that created a fully online version of Australian History and she has taught in it ever since. In her time in ELFSC, Susan has also been an active researcher publishing her fabulous book on bushranging in 2009 and having published research articles in some of Australia's premier history journals, as well as writing and presenting her research on enabling education. The Centre has been fortunate to have Susan perform the vital role of SACO over many years with sensitivity and great wisdom. We wish her the very best for the next exciting chapter of her life.

Marina Penglase – Marina will be leaving her position in ELFSC at the end of 2015 to embrace a new life in northern New South Wales. Marina has been a fulltime member of the academic staff in ELFSC since January 2013.  Since then Marina has coordinated and taught into the Open Foundation Mathematics courses in both the Part Time and Intensive modes. Marina has encouraged her students to be confident mathematicians, often against their prior discouraging experience with Maths education. As part of her PhD research Marina is theorising a new way of teaching mathematics that has benefitted her Open Foundation students. Marina has been an enthusiastic and collegial member of the ELFSC staff and we wish Marina her every happiness and success in her new life.

In October Liz Goode left the Centre after a long association with ELFS. Liz started with ELFS in February 2005 when she started working in our main Office while still a student at the University. A few years ago when we decided to move our Open Foundation Course from what was then a distance program to an online program, Liz along with Keryl Kavanagh and Jan Mayhuddin helped to make it happen.  Liz also led out on the development of an online orientation program, Week Zero, which has received institutional and national Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning and she was a key player in the creation of the Academic Survival Skills Online MOOC, the first of its kind in Australia. Liz has special skills in project management and has been involved with other colleagues in the creation of audio-visual and online resources for the Centre which have greatly enhanced the learning experience of our students. She was part of a team which inaugurated the NAEEA Community of Interest Group in online enabling education and she has led and published some ground-breaking research into online performance of enabling students. We wish Liz well on her new career journey and the successful completion of her PhD.

Because of the growing size of our programs, this year we introduced the new role of Deputy Convenor the following staff have been appointed to the roles of Convenor and Deputy Convenor for the next 2 years.

  • Janielle Wilson is the Deputy Convenor ELICOS Programs Callaghan;
  • Michelle Mansfield is the Deputy Convenor Open Foundation Callaghan;
  • David Thompson is the Deputy Convenor Newstep Callaghan;
  • Joyleen Christensen is the Deputy Convenor Foundation Studies Ourimbah.

With the growth of our English Centre in Sydney, Barbara Mansfield was appointed the Convenor of our ELICOS program in Sydney and Keely McCauley is the Deputy Convenor.  In 2016 Dr Dave Powter, after 8 years as Convenor of Foundations Studies at Ourimbah, will stand down as Convenor, and Dr Joyleen Christensen will be new Convenor of Foundation Studies with Kristen Allen as Deputy Convenor.  I would like to take the opportunity to thank David for his great leadership during his time as Convenor but Dave will still play a key role in our curriculum renewal activities and will be acting Deputy Director while we look for a new Deputy Director.

Enabling Programs

It has been a successful year for our enabling programs.  At the recently held National Association of Enabling Educators Conference in Sydney, representatives of many enabling providers held up our enabling programs as their benchmark. 

At the beginning of 2015 ELFSC has produced a suite of 34 online videos for students commencing the Open Foundation, Newstep, Yapug and UoNPrep programs. These videos provide an overview of each program and describe the courses available in Open Foundation, Newstep and Yapug. The videos are designed to streamline and widen access to important program and course-related information, and manage expectations around the skills and content covered in each course offering.  The videos will assist commencing students, and particularly those who are unable to attend on-campus orientation sessions, with selecting courses that match their interests, abilities and career aspirations. The videos are currently available on each program website.

In the first week of September the Centre once again hosted the Moving on to your Degree sessions, a reinvention of the Faculty Forums run in previous years at both the Callaghan and Ourimbah Campuses. These sessions are an important component of our "transition from enabling" program for our students. The aim of the sessions remains the same; to prepare our enabling students for a seamless transition into undergraduate study. During these faculty-specific sessions, students received presentations on the new UON Direct Application process from the Student Liaison Officers as well as some valuable Faculty content from presenting Academics and Program Advisors.

As requested via student feedback, each session had a dedicated to Q&A time, allowing students to ask questions of Faculty and Student Central staff. This element added a great deal of value to the sessions, as students had the chance to ask questions and interact with their potential lecturers in 2016. The Q&A session was well received. Major topics of discussion were the practical components of the course, the industry placements required and how UON connected with local employers. Attendance at the Moving on to your Degree sessions was significantly improved when compared to last year's numbers.
We thank our Faculty and Student Central colleagues who so willingly contributed to these important sessions.

The numbers in Yapug were slightly down on previous years but there was a review of the Yapug and we are looking forward in co-operation with the Wollotuka Institute to implementing the recommendations of the review panel in the 2016.  We are very proud as I would imagine the Wollotuka Institute, is, that a former Yapug student Nicole Chaffey provided the artwork for the NEW Futures booklet.

Engagement by enabling and undergraduate students in the Centre's UONPrep programs was very pleasing as was data from SPP indicating that students who undertook these programs performed better in their programs than students who had not undertaken these important courses. The Centre greatly appreciates the work of the UONPrep Co-ordinator, Cathy Burgess of the program and the hardworking staff.

Over the years the Centre has greatly enhanced the support that is provided to our enabling students and this is due to our Student Support Staff who are both professional staff (some of whom are located in units outside the Centre) and our academic and teaching staff.  This group has 3-4 meetings a chair and this year the group was ably chaired by Amanda Valent.

There were 1353 domestic enabling students who received undergraduate offers via UAC in 2015: 1181 students were offered an undergraduate place at UoN (87.3%) and 172 prior-enabling students received offers to other Universities (12.7%).

A big thank you to Jo May, the Deputy Director, the Convenors Beverley Wilson, Dave Powter, Kathleen Butler, and Anna Bennett , the Deputy Convenors, Dave Thompson, Joyleen Christensen and Michelle Mansfield.  Jenny Williams had provided great leadership t our professional staff ably assisted by Sally Curzi and Lynette Dennis.  Our research profile has been enhanced by the work of A/Professor Mahsood Shah and Helen Cameron

ELICOS Programs

As mentioned above there has been some growth in our ELICOS programs both in Newcastle and Sydney.  Staff have attended and presented at Conferences hosted by NEAS, English Australia and UECA. Our ELICOS Student Experience program continues to grow from strength to strength on the Callaghan Campus led by Anne Burnett who replaced Robyn Gentemann midyear.  Doris Dayla has adopted the SEP to suit a more international campus and has come up with some innovations which have greatly enhanced the student experience at UON Sydney. On 26th -27th of June UON Sydney relocated from Bathurst St to a new location at 55 Elizabeth Street.  As well as having 10 spacious and technology enabled classrooms, it also has excellent student learning spaces. Great credit is due to the staff for conducting the move while ELICOS classes were still being offered. 

As part of the University's application for renewal of registration with TEQSA, the University was asked to provide one of its ELICOS courses, the EAP course for assessment.  Because of our accreditation with NEAS we believed that this was sufficient, but TEQSA after initially saying it was sufficient, in early January this year asked the Language Centre to provide TEQSA with our EAP program and the assessment would focus on evidence of the University's program development and quality assurance processes.  There was limited time to get the documentation for TEQSA so I would like to give special thanks to AnChi Baxter, Angela Henderson and especially Helen Fitzgerald for all their hard work to provide the documentation to TEQSA.  The University has been commended by TEQSA for its QA processes and has been granted registration for 7 years and CRICOS registration for 5 more years.

I would like to extend my gratitude to the ELICOS Convenor, Helen Fitzgerald and Deputy Convenor, Janielle Wilson (Newcastle) who did a marvellous job this year especially in the last 10 weeks with the exponential growth and also thanks to the professional staff led by AnChi Baxter. I would also like to thank the ELICOS Convenor, Sydney, Barbara Mansfield, and the Deputy Convenor, Keely McCauley for their great work in challenging situations where they had to cope with amazing growth and a move in the middle of the year.

I would like to say a special thank you to the DVC (Academic) Professor Andrew Parfitt for all the support he gave me and the programs throughout the year we are fortunate to have a leader who is supportive of our programs.

I hope all staff have a well-deserved break at Christmas and come back refreshed to continue with the important work that we do. 

Associate Professor Seamus Fagan


English Language and Foundation Studies Centre

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