ELFSC Board Report

Research Achievements

2016 has been another enormously successful year for the Centre in obtaining internal and external grants for its research activities. The Centre received over $361,929 in external funding from the OLT, HEPP NPP, CEEHE, and NCSEHE.

Research Table

Other Achievements

  • The ELFSC Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in enabling programs was awarded to Rosalie Bunn. Dr Mirella Atherton also received a citation for her Excellence in Teaching and Learning and the ELFSC Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for International Programs was awarded to Louise Pavey from the Language Centre at Callaghan.
  • It has been a successful year for Louise Pavey. In May she won the best presentation at the University English Centres of Australia (UECA) PD Fest in Sydney and as a reward Louise won $1000 towards flights and accommodation to attend the UECA PD Fest at the University of Adelaide.
  • Anne Burnett from the Language Centre, with staff from the library, won a team Academic Division Award for International Engagement for their Conversational English Program.

Service Awards

Seven staff recently received staff recognition awards; Mandy Finch received an award for 25 years of service and the following staff; Teresa Balfour Brown, Catherine Burgess, Sharon Cooper, Sally‐Anne Curzi, Troy Duncan and Anthony Morison received 15‐year service awards.

Brian Smith Widening Participation Public Lecture

This year's well attended Brian Smith Public Lecture was delivered by Professor Jacqueline Stevenson the Head of Research in the Sheffield Institute of Education at Sheffield Hallam University (UK). Her key area of interest is around the social and academic experiences of religious and refugee students. The title of her lecture was Reconceptualising Student Resilience in Higher Education: Countering Deficit Discourses.

UON Prep

UON Prep had another successful year; the 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. Staff are currently working with SPP to collate data and survey responses.

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

This July there were 350 on campus course registrations and 245 online course registrations for the Winter UON PREP program for a total of 595 overall registrations. A total of 24 courses were held from Mon 4th July until Friday 22nd July across three campuses.


Cathy Burgess, the UON Prep Coordinator, deserves enormous credit for ensuring the courses run so smoothly and for preparing undergraduate and enabling students for their courses.

For the past 10 years or more UON PREP (Bridging) has had several different registration and enrolment processes one of which was an external Career Hub site. This situation created difficulties for students, new to the university systems, in enrolling in the UON PREP classes and then self‐enrolling into the relevant Blackboard course site. This situation also made it difficult to gather data on students’ performance as they move from UON PREP into either enabling or undergraduate programs. There was also an extra administrative load for staff at an already busy times of the year.

To overcome these problems UON PREP has now been incorporated into the NUSTAR system. Students now enrol and choose their courses in MYHUB they will see the link to the UON PREP webpage and enrol directly in these preparation classes. This will lay the groundwork for students to make “academic preparation” part of the enrolment process.

Our Recognition of Attainment Ceremonies

The Callaghan Recognition of Attainment Ceremony (ROAC) for students who completed Open Foundation, Yapug or Newstep in 2015 was held on 7 April at the University Great Hall.

Family members, partners, friends and staff watched as students were presented with their Certificate by the Chancellor. Our three student speakers were Dean Turner‐Mann (Newstep), Taylah Gray (Yapug) and Siobhan Davidson (Open Foundation). Each spoke of the challenges and rewards of their journey through their respective enabling program. The occasional address was delivered by Frank van de Mortel, a former Open Foundation graduate and now practising psychologist.

The Ourimbah Recognition of Attainment Ceremony (ROAC) was held on Friday 8 July. Students completing Newstep and Open Foundation at Ourimbah in 2015 were presented with their certificates in a ceremony shared with graduates from the Faculty of Science and IT and TAFE. The Occasional Speaker was Kathryn Ashby, who lives on the Central Coast and completed the Part‐time Open Foundation Program at Ourimbah in 2001. She is now a lawyer, running her own law firm on the Central Coast. Our two inspiring student speakers were Caroline Mosey (Newstep) and Jason Finn (Open Foundation).

Campus Conversations

Campus Conversations was the Centre’s response to the University’s Curious, Collaborative, Courageous, campaign which is about supporting and building a culture for New Futures. With Campus Conversations with Coffee, all staff of the Centre were encouraged to embrace the elements of Curious, Collaborative, Courageous, during the months of August and September by meeting with a colleague from another Unit/Office/School at UON. Coffee vouchers were on offer as an incentive for these meetings. The outcomes of the meetings will be taken up in the PRD process. Staff who participated in these activities thoroughly enjoyed their experiences and some important linkages were developed. Staff at UON Sydney ELICOS are to be commended for being the most engaged in this activity. Campus Conversations was the brainchild of Jenny Williams and Tim Hyde.


During the course of 2016 we have had a number of staff leaving or retiring; and a number or new staff joining the Centre.

In July we welcomed our new Deputy Director of the Centre A/Professor Michelle Picard, who joined us from the University of Adelaide. Michelle has brought with her a wealth of experience across a number of sectors and is making a valuable and enriching contribution to the Centre in the area of teaching and learning.

Also in July Dr Sharlene Leroy‐Dyer was appointed to the role of Yapug Convenor and Indigenous Enabling Academic Advisor for our Centre. Sharlene has made a significant contribution to the implementation of the Yapug Review and ensuring that indigenous students in our other enabling programs are engaging with her and the Wollotuka Institute. It has been an eventful year for Sharlene with the recent awarding of her well‐deserved PhD.

With the resignation of our Associate Professor Research, Dr Anna Bennett has been appointed Head of Research Development for the Centre and she commences in this role in January 2017.

Ben Doran, the new ELICOS Convenor, will join us on 21 November from Monash China. We look forward to the experience he will bring to our ELICOS programs.

We also appointed five lecturers to fill vacancies in our OF program. In January the following academic staff commenced with us: Dr Emma Hamilton commenced in History (Callaghan); Dr Heath Jones in Physics (Callaghan); and Dr Annika Westrenius in Business (Ourimbah). In July, Dr Jennifer Irwin commenced in Nursing and Midwifery (Ourimbah), and Dr Murray Sciffer in Mathematics (Callaghan).

On the 4th of March the Centre bade farewell to our ELICOS Convenor, Helen Fitzgerald, who worked at the Language Centre in various roles for the past 26 years. Helen provided great leadership to the Language Centre through exciting and challenging times. We will miss her great skills in dealing with student issues, and her cool head when dealing with the many challenging situations that occur on ELICOS programs.

Helen Cameron, our first Research Manager is leaving the centre on the 18th of November. We are grateful for the great work Helen did in establishing our research profile and facilitating with others, over $1.5 million in external and internal grants.

On September 1st Dr Barry Hodges after 19 years of service to the Centre retired from the Centre. Barry taught on our Open Foundation program, had been the Open Foundation Convenor and CI on a major OLT Grant on Enabling Retention.

In January Michelle Challinor resigned after 15 years in ELFS, teaching in our on campus and online Open Foundation programs, and UON Prep. Michelle was recognised for her strong discipline knowledge, teaching quality and focus on the student experience.

Enabling Programs

It has been a successful year for our enabling programs. We had overall growth in student numbers of 10% across all our programs and campuses. As part of the University’s Central Coast Strategy, enabling programs had a target of 7% growth in enabling student numbers for 2016 and that was achieved.


Utilising HEPP funding, the Centre introduced a pilot Just in Time Communication Strategy for our staff and students in our Intensive Open Foundation Program in Semester 2. It was based on the premise that significant amounts of information are “front ended” in the early weeks of the program. However, when they really need the information there is an assumption that they already are familiar with it, but the reality is often different. Prior to designing the pilot the student life cycle was mapped out over a semester and that determined the communication to send to students based on triggers for students at risk of attrition e.g., first assignment, exams etc.

Below is an example of the extremely positive outcomes of the strategy:

Multiple communications were made and multiple channels of communication were used. For example, in the Offer Communication Series, the following were used:

* 7328 communications to personal emails

* 4307 communications via SMS

* 6546 communications to student emails

* Students engaged with the material in 9022 sessions on the webpage

* 98% of students viewed their offer

* Students spent on average 8.11 minutes on the site.

Orientation Communication Series:

The course videos:

175% increase in watching part of the video, 166% in watching the whole video, 106% in percentage of video watched. 57% of watching on computer and 323% increase in watching on mobile devices.

Student Load:

By start of week 1, 10% increase in students with load compared to same period in 2015.

Based on these positive outcomes we plan to roll out the strategy to all our programs in 2017. Special thanks to Jenny Williams, Tim Hyde, Elizabeth Bridges, Jess Burden and all the support staff for making it happen.

In 2016 there were 1643 domestic enabling students who received undergraduate offers via UAC or direct to UON: 1424 students were offered an undergraduate place at UON (86.7%) and 219 prior enabling students received offers to other Universities (13.3%).

Our “Next Move” sessions, which aim to prepare our enabling students for a seamless transition into undergraduate study, were held in early Semester 2. 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. ELFS Centre staff were happy with the numbers of enabling students attending these sessions which were up on the previous year.

The student numbers in Yapug were higher than in previous years and having a full‐time Convenor is making a real difference. Sharlene has been organising extra support sessions during University breaks to ensure the Yapug students are supported in their program and are also actively engaged in their program. The Convenor also provided academic support to the more than one hundred Indigenous students enrolled in our other enabling programs and this included a well‐attended meet and greet barbecue.

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 year, and this year the group was ably chaired by Sharon Boyd.

Sub Bachelor Degree Programs

With the Federal Government likely to make a decision on Higher Education Reform sometime in 2017 which is also likely to include changes to the offering of sub bachelor degree program, the Centre is well placed to offer such programs. In March we completed a business plan for a Diploma in Business, and we are currently working on a similar business plan for a Diploma in Engineering and Science. In 2017 ELFS will teach three modified Newstep courses into FHEAM’s new Associate Degree of Integrated Care in Ageing.

A big thank you to David Powter who was Deputy Director for the first half of 2016 and Michelle Picard who was Deputy Director for the latter half of 2016, the Convenors, Beverley Wilson, Anna Bennett, Michelle Mansfield, Joyleen Christensen, and Sharlene Leroy‐Dyer the Deputy Convenors, Dave Thompson, Emma Hamilton and Kristen Allen as well as our Online Co‐ordinator Scott Sciffer. Jenny Williams had provided great leadership to our professional staff ably assisted by Sally Curzi/Elizabeth Bridges and Lynette Dennis. Our research profile has been enhanced by the work of Helen Cameron.

ELICOS Programs

Over all there was a drop in ELICOS enrolments on both campuses in 2016. There are two main reasons for this:

  • 1. The new visa policy introduced by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIPB) whereby UON was classified as Type 2 country has meant that for students from some countries it is more difficult to obtain a visa to study at UON.
  • 2. UON Global is still in the process of restructuring and as more than 80% of our students are pathway students this is having an impact on our numbers.

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 recently won an Academic Divion award for her work on the Conversational English program, she developed in collaboration with staff in the Library. There are plans to extend the program into Student Central. In Sydney Doris Ayala 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. These include the Wrap me in Love Project which is a knitting community group who sew blankets for people in need and are distributed in many parts of the world. Our UON Sydney students attend this weekly event at Potts Point where they are taught how to knit, sew and crochet by experienced knitters. It has been running for 5 weeks our students seem to really enjoy it.

The Language Centre’s inaugural Student Achievement Award was held on 24th June. This Centre wide award was set up to acknowledge students who have demonstrated areas of academic excellence as well as extended their language learning by being involved in community engagement activities. The award, the first of two to be held in a year, will enable students who are enrolled until July a chance to receive such recognition. The winner, Yan Xue (Jolly) received $500 and a certificate.

In May, NEAS (National English Language Teaching Accreditation Scheme) conducted their biennial onsite Quality Assurance Framework audit of the ELICOS Centre at Callaghan The all‐day audit involved meetings with key staff, meetings with focus groups of students, as well as teaching and administrative staff where they followed up on information gathered from online surveys administered to these groups prior to the audit. The feedback from the audit was extremely positive. Survey responses are benchmarked against other quality assured providers and our results were above average against these providers. In September a similar audit was conducted at UON Sydney with similar positive outcomes with strong affirmation Courses are structured around clear syllabus documentation and learning outcomes to ensure consistent delivery. Teachers are given a lot of guidance from the course documents that are further supported by level meetings and encouraged communication with co-teachers.

Students overall are happy with their courses and their study experience at both campuses. In April, students in Sydney and Newcastle took part in the English Language Barometer online survey that benchmarked our centres, against public and private providers, nationally and internationally. Combined campus (Sydney and Newcastle) ranking results showed that we were consistently on par or above average for the sector.

I would like to extend my gratitude to the acting ELICOS Convenor Janielle Wilson (Newcastle) who did a marvellous job this year especially with the NEAS Quality Assurance Visit, to Sue Hodgson who was both acting Convenor/Deputy Convenor and Stuart McDonald who at various times during the year was acting Deputy Convenor. 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 2016 including a NEAS Quality Assurance Visit.


The Language Centre administers in excess of 2000 IELTS tests per year. This is much appreciated by our local community who would otherwise have to go to Sydney to undertake the test. For a significant number of years IELTS had a monopoly on testing of both international students and potential migrants but over the last year or so the Federal Government has broken this monopoly. For the first time in years we have seen a slight drop in our numbers taking IELTS so we are currently in negotiations with a number of other providers of international English language tests to explore the possibility of offering other tests. A big thank you to AnChi Baxter and Allison Delaney who ensure we deliver a safe and secure testing environment for this important test.


In 2016 Homestay had 170 families registered with their program and has accommodated 450 students, which is made up of:

36 under 18‐year‐old students (with 8 guardians)

210 students ‐ Japanese study groups/tours

42 students ‐ Chinese study group

4 students ‐ Korea study group

158 individual students that were not U18 or part of a study group program.

Homestay holds 2 annual functions – a Thank You Dinner which was held in July, and our Christmas party due to be held in November. Fatima Shipton and her team ensure we run a quality programs for our partner institutions and our students.

I would like to say a special thank you to the DVC (Academic) Professor Andrew Parfitt for all the support he has given to me and to the programs throughout the years he has had responsibility for ELFS. I have gone to him many times with special and unique requests and I have always had a fair hearing. We have been fortunate to have a leader who is supportive of our enabling and international programs and on behalf the Centre we wish him well in his new role as Provost at UTS.

It is a bit early but I do 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