UCA Min-conference report, Congratulations to Carla Tromans, Higher Education Research Updates and NAAUC Report
University Colleges Australia

UCA Conference

- President's Report
- Treasurer's Report

In the News

- Carla Tromans elected to Qld University Senate

Membership Matters

- Higher Education Reports

Student Matters

- NAAUC Report

UCA Executive Committee 2012 with the Governor-General
Postcard from Broadbeach

With 25 attendees and a beautiful beach-side location, the Broadbeach Mini-conference was appropriately relaxed yet productive.  Feedback from the members includes:
"Really excellent program, very exciting about AICD, so interesting to hear developments around the country, and James Scott’s session was very beneficial."  
UCA-Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) Programme 2014
Iyla Davies opened the mini-conference and outlined the Executive Committee's work thus far on preparing a professional development programme encompassing governance issues in the college environment.  This one and a half day programme will be delivered as part of the UCA Conference 2014, to be held in Adelaide in the week of Monday 29 September to Friday 3 October 2014.  In addition to this programme which will be targeted specifically to heads of colleges and halls of residence, a regional programme, targeted at college council members, will be rolled out during 2014 with the first course made available around March/April.  Further details will be provided in the December newsletter.

Professional Standards 
Carla Troman's reported on the members' surveys run throughout the year.  The Heads' Remuneration survey was seen as useful to members in negotiating their employment contracts with college boards.  The Professional Development for RAs Survey attracted 32 respondents.  Discussion centred on the substantial number (42%) of College Heads that do not regard their RAs as employees.  It was noted that this will govern how colleges treat their RAs in terms of insurance and workcover and was seen as an area that needed to be addressed by the Association. Another item of interest was the proportion of RAs to residents.  A ratio of one RA to 25 students was considered as good practice.  Members commented on the large number of duties in which RAs took part, including marketing.  100% of respondents listed mental health as an emerging issue and dealing with mental health issues was seen to put a lot of pressure on our RAs.  Emerging issues for international students included sexual health and unwanted pregnancy.  

As part of the memorandum of understanding, the UCA and AACUHO have focussed on professional standards applicable in residential colleges and halls.  The Professional Standards Survey  (AACUHO Benchmarking Project) has become much larger than originally anticipated and Carla reported that she and Iyla Davies had been invited to meet  with the AACUHO Executive in Brisbane in the second week of December to discuss how they may move forward in developing a set of Professional Standards for the Australian context.

Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project - Alcohol use & harm minimisation among university students
Marie Leech reported on materials coming out of this research which is partially funded by VicHealth and the UCA.  This is a large survey reinforced by 19 focus groups with each containing 80 participants.  The survey in part looks at the difference between students living at home, which has a protective factor, and those living away from home.  A draft journal article will be made available towards the end of October.

National Reports
Colleges, in general, are enjoying good occupancy levels.  Barbara Green (Vic) reported that whereas the University of Melbourne had previously not considered student accommodation as part of their core business, the power of competition from ANU and UWA had seemingly altered their position, with Unimelb's intention to develop 2,000 accommodation places by 2020.  Marie Leech (NSW) reported that the University of Sydney had purchased the former Queen Mary Nurses' Home to provide affordable accommodation and the UNSW had committed to guarantee an offer of accommodation to all of its international students.  Gail Harrower (far north Qld) said that their was enormous pressure on accommodation at JCU with the possibility of filling another 500 beds if they were to be made available.  Edwina Ridgway (NSW) stated that the University of New England had also recently built their first apartment style accommodation and there was concern at the sense of social isolation such accommodation can engender.  Regular meetings with the University's Vice-Chancellor were seen as important in developing better relationships with universities as a whole.

Peter McDonald, Tertiary Balance
Peter reported on recent developments with the ATO's determination regarding taxation on meals. He noted that the sector had been enjoying levels of concessions since 2000.  Student affordability has been a consistent theme with Peter noting that many students and their families are unaware of the levels of government support available. He suggested that Heads should access this information from Centrelink's Youth Allowance

Mental Health Workshop led by Dr James Scott
The greatest form of disability in the 15-25 years age group is mental health.  It is not brought on by one thing in particular but from a culmination of factors.  Early risk factors include: temperament, attachment and development.    Dr Scott drew attention to the Circle of Security website and cited the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation  Influencing factors in this age group include: family relationships; peer relationships; trauma – including sex abuse and bullying; vocational and educational stress levels; substance abuse; and physical factors such as diet, sleep and exercise (he noted that in many cases, young people are not getting enough sleep because they are on Facebook half the night).  The resultant mental health issues include depression, anxiety, substance use and ADHD.  These issues manifest with either externalising or internalising behaviours.  It was observed that one of the reasons that Heads are seeing more young people with mental health issues at university is that the schools are becoming better at dealing with students with mental health issues who are now taking up university places.  The challenge for universities and college heads is how to meet this increasing burden of care.

From the AGM
With Executive Committee positions of a two year duration, the only position to be declared vacant was the position of Treasurer.  Marie Leech agreed to extend her current term of Treasurer for an additional year so that all Executive Committee positions will be declared vacant at the AGM 2014.  Please read the President's Report and the Treasurer's Report . During the course of the meeting, the need to focus on membership numbers was discussed as well as better defining, branding and marketing the Association.  Further developments on this matter will be made available in the December newsletter.

In the News
Congratulations to Carla Tromans
Dr Carla Tromans, Director of International House, University of Queensland and UCA Executive Committee Member, has been elected to the University of Queensland's 33rd Senate which will run from 2014-2017.  The 22 member Senate is the University's governing body. 

Membership Matters

Australian International Education Conference, 8-11 October 2013 - Report
Ian Walker, from Ursula Hall & Toad Hall, ANU, was pleased to attend sessions of the AIE Conference on behalf of the UCA.  He writes that a constant theme of the Conference was the student experience and the support given to international students, especially in terms of residence and affordability.  Read Ian's report.

ACEL Address: Opportunities and risks in the education market place
Tony Abbott has put international education high on his agenda in his early days as prime minister.  Read Michelle Grattan's article from The Conversation.

Study links a gap year to better university grades
Students who take gap years are more successful in their university studies than mature age students or students who enter university straight from school, according to a study by Andrew Martin, Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Sydney.  See the report.

Law Schools and Mental Health
Continuing with the mental health theme, in 2009, academics from the ANU College of Law began to study the psychological wellbeing of law students at ANU, prompted by decades of American literature which had belatedly been recognised as relevant to Australia. Their surveys revealed that students entered law school as psychologically healthy people with positive expectations.  By the end of the first year, however, their levels of depressive symptoms were substantially higher not only when compared to new students, but also significantly higher than their peers in the community.  See their report in The Conversation

Student Matters

The value of NAAUC
Cameron Bestwick, NAAUC Secretary 2012-13 writes: After consulting the literature, NAAUC has inferred that it is of most relevance to student engagement, rather than performance, transition or retention.  And whilst residences have a small impact on grades, they have a large impact on student engagement. In particular, it is well established that residences can have a significant positive influence over tolerance, self-confidence, independence and social skill.  It is also reasonably well established that participants of residential life programmes exceed non-participants in the following engagement metrics: peer interactions, faculty interactions, use of university academic resources, exposure to diversity, enrolment in co-curricular activities, enrolment in enrichment activities, responsible consumption of alcohol and coping with the demands of coursework.

In 2013, NAAUC sought to begin a process of collecting data from delegates on all of the above metrics to better justify NAAUC’s services and to identify any opportunities to improve the services. The data shown here has already been useful in informing changes to the 2014 conference.  NAAUC has a view to add the following metrics to the data collection process – critical thinking, effort expended in academic work, time spent in co-curricular activities, positive perceptions of campus social climates and flexibility to change attitudes, beliefs and values – which are also considered to be positively impacted by residential life programs.  If you have any feedback or suggestions, please do not hesitate to share it with us at 
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