Is student engagement a problem on City Campus?
As semester one draws to a close, student engagement is down at the city campus. According to Peter Hyslop, UNSA is trying to fix it.
Face-to-face learning started on a positive note this year, beginning as an opportunity to rebuild social connections and make new friends. Now, attendance is down at NuSpace, as students are complaining there is simply no reason to stay on campus.
Georgia Hamilton is a second-year visual communication student. She says without much to do, people don’t hang around.
“I think there’s definitely an environment of study, and I think everyone is working in the city, and I do make friends in my classes but not outside of my classes,” she said.
“I think people only really stay if they are between classes. I don’t think people hang around if they can just go home.”
Hamilton says people are often more inclined to make the trek to Callaghan rather than find something to do in the city.
“At Callaghan I go and get free food every Friday from the UNSA building, and that’s pretty good,” she said.
“But there are so few events in the city. I would definitely get behind it if there were more.”
We spoke to UNSA to get their view on things. They recognize the problem and want to do more, but the tyranny of distance is a challenge.
“As with all of our other campuses that aren’t Callaghan, outreach and getting students involved is quite tricky” said student president, Jess Philbrook.
“We’ve got quite a lot of programs we’ve developed to target that specifically. We’re always looking at ways to connect with those students, whether it’s having hybrid delivery for some of our events, whether we’re having them at NuSpace and live streaming it at other campuses or vice versa.”
Newcastle Campus Convenor Samuel Cox conceded the existing facilities at NuSpace were not being used as social spaces.
“It was intended in the design process, but it hasn’t fully come into being. You don’t see a lot of people actually doing that. The execution hasn’t been done that well,” he said.
“I’d really like to see us working on some kind of permanent presence at NuSpace.”
Cox also said he wants new social spaces to be built at the Honeysuckle Campus, currently in the design phase.
“It is only going to get bigger. In the last year or so the Q building has gone up. The university actually owns all of the vacant land around there,” he said.
“There’s going to be a building put there at some point. I’d love to see some more community spaces for students. Because it’s important to have study spaces, but at the same time their needs are to have recreational spaces. It would be good to have that factored into the design process.”
As for now? It’s a work in progress, but a shift in culture is needed. It’s a chicken or egg scenario; people need to stay but at the same time, more needs to be done to encourage people to do that.
What are your thoughts? Would you be interested in more social events at the city campuses?
Feature Image by Peter Hyslop, Yak Staff Writer.