Ms Adele Penning1, Ms Rebecca Chow1
1UNSW Global, Kensington, Australia
In March 2020, UNSW Global was subjected to significant disruption when Covid -19 restricted international travel. As a pathway provider, the majority of students are international and require thorough orientation both academically and socially. Overnight the program moved from a 1 day, face to face orientation, to virtual. These had to meet legal and compliance obligations, but also be engaging and supportive in a new, solely online market. It had multiple obstacles, such as connectivity concerns, time zone restraints and language barriers. However, the model developed was accessible and hit our key targets of preparing and supporting our students’ academic, social and wellbeing needs. Online platforms allowed increased event offerings over 2 weeks, with some activity’s attendance increasing up to a 60%. At every stage, student feedback was embraced to allow the program to evolve and deliver 13 successful virtual orientations so far. Whilst challenging, it has allowed a dated student engagement experience, to be modernised. Offering a greater outreach by assisting other stakeholders to attend, that physically were not able to before and improving the student’s communication network. Establishing that students require support long before their orientation day and that building meaningful connections with their educators and support teams is just as important to them as meeting new friends. As Covid 19 restrictions ease, it is anticipated that demand for information and connection prior to arrival will still be high and this valuable offering can be incorporated in the revitalised digital world of online education.
Rebecca Chow is the Team Leader of Student Services and Engagement at UNSW Global. Rebecca has worked in a variety of roles in the international education sector, specialising in the delivery of a positive and fulfilling experience to the international student with a focus on promoting student engagement and setting students up for success through effective orientation and on-boarding.
Adele Penning is an experienced event professional with a strong passion for executing innovative campaigns and events that increase engagement and deliver personalised experiences. She is currently the Education Events Coordinator at UNSW Global, where she works on a variety of events, communication and engagement projects for both on and offshore students, striving to improve student experience.