September 2015 Newsletter

Staffing News;Sydney Campus OpeningELFSC Research Awards; ELFSC Staff Forum & Lunch; Moving on to your DegreeWork Health & Safety; Enabling Commencing Student Survey; EPHLTH370 goes blended

Elfsc Research Newsletter

For all the latest news on research in the centre go to the Research Newsletter

From the Director

Language Centre Intake

This 5 week intake saw over 100 students commence their English language studies with the Centre and they came from a diverse range of countries including China, India, Pakistan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Iran, and Cambodia. Forty eight of these students have come from our many partners in Japan; Ube NCT, Gumna NCT, Kitakyushu University, Toyo Eiwa, University of Electro Communications, Kyorin University, and Musashino University

The Centre also hosted a study tour group of 35 students from our sister institutions Shohoku College and Matsumoto University. This week 16 students from Kanto Gakuin University ( a new partner) arrived for a 4 day study tour.

Fifteen students joined our program in Sydney and they came mainly from China, Vietnam, India and Mongolia.

UON Sydney Campus Opening

On the 26-27 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. ELICOS staff now share an open plan staff room with Business School academics and visitors from Newcastle.

The Language Centre at UON Sydney continues to grow with student numbers ranging from 130 -150 students at any one time. UON Sydney's Official Opening occurred just prior to a Council Meeting on 14th of August and was performed by the Chancellor Paul Jeans and the Vice-Chancellor Professor Caroline McMillen.

The Centre was represented at the opening by the Director , the Convenor and Deputy Convenor Sydney and the ELICOS Convenor Newcastle. The Opening was attended by the CEO of the National ELT Accreditation Scheme (NEAS) which accredits our centres in Newcastle and Sydney and this is what he had to say about UON Sydney in the NEAS national newsletter:

University of Newcastle launches Sydney-based ELICOS centre

'NEAS congratulates University of Newcastle Associate Professor Seamus Fagan and his team on the opening of a world-class multi-purpose ELICOS and Business School in the heart of Sydney this month.

Marking the University's 50th year in the delivery of graduate programmes, the new facility was officially opened by the Chancellor Mr Paul Jeans and Vice Chancellor Professor Caroline McMillen.

The University of Newcastle's Sydney-based Language Centre allows students to balance the benefits of studying English with a high-ranking, long-established institution with easy access to the conveniences of Sydney's CBD and surrounding areas.
Cutting edge technology and resources combine with world-class teaching methods and the latest classroom designs, to support best practice in language teaching pedagogy'.

Sydney Campus UON Opening Cake and Caroline Pic Sydney Campus Large Group


Welcome Tim -  We are pleased to welcome Tim Hyde as the Marketing Officer until the end of the year.  Tim commenced on 31 August.

Tim was previously Marketing and Communications Co-ordinator in the Faculty of Health and Medicine.  Tim has a double degree from UON, and has worked at the University for more than 8 years in a variety of roles in Marketing and Public Relations, Student Central, and Equity and Diversity.  Tim has also served as a Student Ambassador.  Tim is very familiar with our programs and has been involved in international activities with the Faculty of Health and Medicine.

Tim is located in the McMullin Building (MCLG60) at Callaghan.

Tim Hyde

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2015 ELFSC Research Awards

I am pleased to announce the recipients of the 2015 ELFSC Research Awards. The ELFSC Research award was introduced in 2014. The research awards have been established to acknowledge the outstanding contribution to research that is made by academic and professional staff within the Centre.

The awards also provide incentive for staff to undertake research activity and strive for research excellence.

The three categories of awards included: Research Excellence, Best Paper, and RHD. The recipients of the 2015 award are as follows:

Research Excellence Award- Dr Joyleen Christensen

Best Paper Award - Dr Mirella Atherton and Dr Jamie Hunt

RHD Award - Roslaie Bunn

I wish to congratulate the recipients and I hope the funds awarded will be used to improve research outcomes. The recipients are kindly asked to contact Helen Cameron ext 18603 or for further details on how to access the funds.

Associate Professor Mahsood Shah

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The second ELFSC Staff Forum and lunch for 2015 was held on 12 August at the Treehouse.  This forum is a chance for staff of the Centre to come together and to hear firsthand about matters of interest from the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) (Chair of the ELFSC Board) and our Director Seamus Fagan.

Unfortunately the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) was an apology on this occasion.

Topics raised by the Director Seamus included:

  • Vale Lynne Wilson –  The Director is exploring the establishment of an ongoing memorial to our dearly missed colleague Lynne Wilson.
  • Congratulations to Ryan O'Neill and Annika Westrenius  on the confirmation of their respective doctorates
  • Congratulations to Kristen Allen who was presented with the 2015 Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the Ourimbah Attainment Ceremony
  • Kathleen (Kathy) Butler received an OLT National Teaching Fellowship for "Sociology Teaching and Indigenous Issues"
  • The Centre was successful in obtaining an OLT grant of $347 000. The team includes the Director, (Project Leader), Evonne Irwin and Helen Cameron of ELFS and Sally Baker late of ELFS but now working for CEEHE.
  • Sydney Language centre – Sydney official opening on 14 August
  • Student numbers –ELFSC eventually reached the mid-year enabling enrolments target with the help of some extra marketing and by extending the closing date for applications.  For the first five intakes of the ELICOS intake in Callaghan this year we were up on the same time last year but with the last intake and the next intake it looks like our commencing enrolments will be down on last year. The Sydney ELICOS enrolments are significantly higher than the same time last year.
  • Higher education sector – the University and the Centre are watching for any movement with the Minister's higher education reforms.Development of a Diploma is being explored in response to the proposed reforms

Staff Forum Lunch August 2015

ELFSC Staff Forum Lunch August 2015August 2015 ELFSC Staff Forum Lunch

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Moving on to Your Degree Sessions

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.

Moving onto Your Degree 1

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Work Health and Safety

Staff are reminded that workplace health and safety is everyone's responsibility.  All hazards, incidents and near misses need to be reported.

Please refer to the WH&S information here.  A recent safety alert has been published about reporting staff injuries or illness.

Healthy UON - Free Health Checks

Healthy UON is proud to support the Get Healthy at Work Program

They need 500 staff participants (across all campuses) to participate in a free face to face Health Check with a medical professional.

Further information can be found at:


Mindfulness Meditation

Regular practice of mindfulness has been proven to help reduce stress, improve your attention, and can help you manage your thoughts and emotions more effectively. It can even help you experience more joy and peace in your life!

The Introduction to Mindfulness course is designed to provide an introduction to the practice of mindfulness, assisting you to develop the skills and to experience the benefits in your day to day life.

Sessions involve mindfulness meditation exercises and group discussions. In order to maximise benefit from the course, participants should plan to attend all sessions and be willing to do some mindfulness practice at home. Whilst this course is aimed at beginners, everyone is welcome and experienced meditators are also likely to benefit.

Bookings can be made on HR Online.

We encourage staff to take part in these training sessions.

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Enabling Commencing Students Survey

Top Marks for Refreshed Orientations

In August, ELFSC received the report on our Commencing Student Survey for 2015. 245 enabling students undertook the comprehensive survey about their experience of starting and studying in our enabling programs. Several aspects of the survey are especially interesting for us. For example, most of these students had made the decision to engage with their enabling studies within six months prior to starting their program. Further while many categories of relationships (parents/relatives [over 16%], current students [12%] and teachers [7%]) promoted engagement with the programs, most people gained their information for their decision from digital sources [17+%], with the UON website the most important of them [45+%]. Indeed 90% of those who responded to the question 'Did you enrol in your courses before attending the Orientation session?' answered in the affirmative.

Orientations were judged very favourably indeed with an improvement on 2012. Over 98% of respondents rated them 'helpful, moderately helpful or very helpful'. Course information sessions were far and away the 'best thing' about Orientation, followed by meeting former students and teachers, and campus familiarisation, as the other most significant aspects.

Once in our courses, the students reported that the best aspect of the first few weeks was 'meeting new people/making new friends', an intrinsic experience for each individual. Eight other intrinsic factors out of the 25 given were mentioned, such as: 'becoming a university student'; gaining 'a sense of purpose and direction'; and 'challenge of learning after a long time away from study'. The majority of factors however were extrinsic (16): 'fabulous staff' (second overall); 'introduction to new subjects', 'great atmosphere', 'great support available' and so on. The number of extrinsic or contextual factors show that how we communicate and what we do in these first few weeks matters very much.

As they progressed in their studies 87% of all respondents said they felt prepared 'for studying in their program, and a very creditable 81% felt 'part of the university community', up from 78% in 2012. Nevertheless 22% of respondents did consider leaving the programs. Consistent with previous surveys, the main reason was that they were 'struggling with their studies' (38%) while 'Other' was the next most populous category (27%): of these, only 3/10 factors were related to programs; most were personal regarding 'issues', illness, time and money pressures, and being unsure of one's path.

Another interesting aspect that affirms the Centre's embedding of support was that students were very well aware of the availability of those embedded aspects of support such as counselling, administrative and learning support. Other aspects of university life such as disability support and health services, accommodation or sporting and recreation facilities, were not so well known. Students who participated in Week Zero or with Academic Survival Skills found the experience very helpful indeed.

Overall the improvements to our Orientation after our recent Review ably assisted by Dave Powter and Holly Dillon, while retaining and foregrounding the traditional features of Course Information Session and former students, proved effective. Congratulations to all involved in making our students' first face-to-face or online encounter with the Centre so affirming and helpful. A survey of our Intensive Open Foundation students who commenced in semester 2 is also currently underway.  We look forward the survey results and feedback from this cohort.

Seamus Fagan

IOF Orientation Group

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EPHLTH370 goes blended

Bronwyn Relf and the Blended and Online Learning Team have recently trialled a flipped classroom model in EPHLTH370: Science for Nursing and Midwifery.

Because of a foreseeable, yet unavoidable absence from campus during Week 9 this semester, Bronwyn approached the Blended and Online Learning Team to discuss and help design the online delivery of that Week's content.

In order to adequately prepare students for that fully online experience in Week 9, a flipped classroom experience was designed for Week 2, where students worked through a three-part series of videos, activities, quizzes and discussions via their Blackboard site before attending their usual lecture time as a Q&A session rather than a traditional lecture.

Students were surveyed about this Week 2 blended learning experience and an initial scan through the 125 surveys returned hints at a largely positive response. Highlights of the full evaluation will be published in a later edition of this newsletter, and will be used to inform improvements in the planned online delivery for Week 9.

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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.