How can we be sure that student services are effective and valued? From day one, Greenwich University ensures that students are led to our Student Centre, where administrative support and personal services are offered. Our counter staff provide information and advice and can refer students to specialists. Our financial advisers deal with the collection of fees, management of fee payment and the dispersal of hardship funds.
Students are introduced at an early stage to web self-service delivery and have the opportunity to change aspects of their personal records, check details of their programmes, obtain coursework header sheets online before submitting work and check out assessment results. They can send queries through our departmental website or seek email counselling or guidance. Our experience is that some students, particularly Asian males, prefer this form of counselling.
In addition, our university-wide project - The Student Experience Initiative - supports students through, for example, training and materials such as the Pastoral and Skills Handbook , which includes information on forms of delivery of tutorials, referral information and briefings on student issues as well as resources for key skills development. Level two of the initiative focuses on coordinating the work of our Guidance and Careers Team with local academic schools, including personal development planning, mentoring and volunteering and careers advice. Our Black Mentoring Scheme, for instance, provides industry mentors for ethnic minority students and emphasises employability skills.
The coordinated approach of the Student Experience Initiative ensures that academic and support staff know what everyone is doing to support students and make sure they last the course.
Christine Rose is director of student affairs, Greenwich University.
Information: the 2002 Universities UK publication Student Services: Effective Approaches to Retaining Students in Higher Education and the 2003 Department for Education and Skills Directory of Practice .