Selective Planning of the First Year Experience in Higher Education: A Sweden-Australia Comparative Study of Support

Michael Christie, Sorrel Penn-Edwards, Sharn Donnison, Ruth Greenaway


Literature on the support of the First Year Experience (FYE) in institutions of Higher Education provides a range of modelled approaches. However, we argue that institutions still need to selectively plan which approach/es and attendant strategies are best suited to their particular contexts and institutional policy and practice frameworks and how their FYE is to be presented for their particular student cohort. This paper compares different ways of supporting students in their first year in two contrasting universities. The first case study focuses on a first year course at Stockholm University (SU), Sweden, a large, metropolitan, single campus institution, while the second investigates a strategy for supporting first year students using a community of practice at a satellite campus of the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), a small regional university in South-East Queensland, Australia. The research contrasts a formal, first generation support approach versus a fourth generation support approach which seeks to involve a wider range of stakeholders in supporting first year students. The research findings draw conclusions about how effective the interventions were for the students and provide clear illustrations that selective planning in considering the institution’s strategic priorities and human, physical, and resource contexts was instrumental in providing a distinctive experience which complemented the institute and the student cohort. (212 words)

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International Journal of Higher Education
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