Institutional response to student feedback

Usha Rao1

1 La Trobe Melbourne Navitas Bundoora Ltd, La Trobe University, Victoria 3086, Australia

The principal objective of this paper is to demonstrate the capability of La Trobe Melbourne to successfully provide a response to students, accurately and inexpensively, regarding actions taken, resulting from student feedback, on several surveys throughout the year. La Trobe Melbourne conducts surveys regularly to gain student feedback on academic matters, curriculum, and quality of teaching as well as on student activities and customer service. For the purposes of this paper, student feedback on customer service, especially at college reception, will be used as the main example.

After the student feedback on each of the surveys is collated, management, in each area of the college, study the student responses to decide upon actions to be taken to improve the situation for the students or measure the quality of a product, if some items on the surveys have received low scores. Also, some comments in response to open-ended questions, sometimes, receive negative comments. If the low scores and/or comments appear in a high percentage of responses, the matter is looked at by management in terms of improvements required. If the recommendations of the students are reasonable, and the improvements are viable, they are budgeted to be actioned the following financial year. Action is taken as soon as possible, and this is reported back to the students, in a presentation by the Principal and Director of La Trobe Operations.

During the presentation the audience will be provided with examples of some of the types of surveys conducted, the student feedback and the actual actions taken. After this the discussion will focus on why the effort to communicate the institution’s response to the students’ feedback is perceived to be a tedious and compromising task by the students. Efforts have been made by La Trobe Melbourne to improve the exercise of communicating with the students. These strategies for improvement will be discussed, and the audience will be able to judge the success or otherwise of these efforts put into practice by management.

The audience will be invited to contribute examples of strategies which in their experience, at their institutions, have worked better than those applied by La Trobe Melbourne.


Usha Rao (MA, Monash; MEd, Uni of Melbourne; IDLTM, Uni of Qld) is the Director, Quality and Services at La Trobe Melbourne, Navitas Bundoora Ltd. She is the 2012 holder of English Australia’s John Gallagher award for her contribution to international education in Australia. Usha is a Fellow of Australian Institute of Management. She has been an ISANA member since 1993.

Using Google to your own advantage

Liesl Barnett1 and Emma Hart2

1 Studygroup International (Taylors College Perth), P.O. Box 1004, Claremont, WA, 6010
2 Studygroup International (Taylors College Perth), P.O. Box 1004, Claremont, WA, 6010

Taylors College Perth is a non-denominational school for international students who are hoping to enter the University of Western Australia.  We run three different programs on our campus:

  • Academic English Preparation (AEP)
  • Foundation Program (Intensive, Standard and Extended)
  • Diploma of Commerce, Diploma of Science (also open to local students)

At any given time we have between 250 – 400 students on campus.

We use Moodle (Studysmart) as our Online Learning Management System – and we have successfully incorporated the use of google forms, docs and sheets into our programs across the board.  This has allowed us to collect greater volumes of student feedback more easily and quickly, and allowed us improved methods of monitoring student outcomes, giving adequate and appropriate student support, and helping us more clearly understand the needs of our students’ onsite.

Historically, the problem institutions such as ours have had, is finding a method/ methods of collecting student feedback in a timely and comprehensive manner.  Paper student surveys need to be read/ collated and the data inputted into a spreadsheet or program of some description before being analysed.  Class timetables must be studied to determine to which classes and when to hand out these surveys.   Students not attending class miss filling out the survey, and we may miss out on collecting valuable data.  Receiving and processing student feedback in a timely manner has been problematic for most institutions.

Google forms have helped us revolutionise the way in which we collect and collate information. It is not time consuming, paper wasting or arduous – it’s fast and accurate.  Google forms allow you to prepare a form that is simple in execution but allows for answers to be given in a variety of ways. The responses are then shown in one of two ways – EVERY answer to each question in order of question on the form – or all of the answers of each respondent across one line of a spreadsheet.  This information is time and date stamped, and drops immediately into the spreadsheet once a student clicks SUBMIT at the bottom of the form.

We now use these forms for our end of term student surveys.  We also use these forms to collect data such as sign-ups for events like our Alumni wine and cheese night.  We use them so students can sign in for daily HUB tutorials – letting the teachers know exactly who they can expect at each tutorial.  We also use them to collect past student (Alumni) data for tutoring here on campus, and for features like Top Tutor, or highlight Alumni in our weekly bulletin or on our facebook site.

We also use these forms to allow teachers to give extensive academic feedback and concerns, for Student Welfare reporting, and collating and sharing Graduate student information among key staff.  They have become a necessity for us here at Taylors College.


Liesl is an educator who has taught for 20 years across a variety of schools, colleges and universities in Australia, Papua New Guinea and the UK. She is passionate about innovation in education, and supporting students who need help and guidance to achieve their best.

Emma is an educator with a background and passion in languages. She worked in Madrid before relocating to Australia, and has been key in developing the University of Western Australia (UWA) Diplomas of Commerce and Science at Taylors College Perth, while also looking after the UWA Foundation Program and the Academic English Preparation Program.

Transition to studying at UNSW

Louise Tabrum1

1 University of New South Wales

This presentation will describe Student Development Internationals’ (SDI) best practice for providing an effective Orientation Program to assist international students in their transition to studying at UNSW Australia and living in Sydney. Student Development International (SDI) is responsible for overseeing the orientation and transition activities of international students at UNSW. Orientation Programs for international students have come under a lot of scrutiny in recent years, as formal and informal feedback suggests existing Programs have often been ineffective in meeting students’ needs. International students have continued to ‘fall through the cracks’ and have not always been linked into the resources available to assist them in their transition and beyond.

In response to formal and informal feedback SDI developed a holistic and streamlined Transition Program available to all students before they arrive onshore and accessible throughout the semester.  Acknowledging that international student have different needs, based on their capabilities, experience and background, a specialised Program for international students now sits alongside that offered to local students. The Program for international students includes 7 online modules, UNSW Essentials (covers information necessary for studying at UNSW), complemented by a one day face to face session. The face to face component is offered prior to UNSW Orientation Week so that students can also attend workshops, presentations and Faculty Welcomes. At the conclusion of the presentation participants will be given an opportunity to share their experiences and successes in providing effective programs assisting new students in their transition to study in Australia and New Zealand.


Louise Tabrum has been working at UNSW Australia as an Intentional Student Advisor for some time.

Intercultural communication competence – a University of Waikato Management School case study

Andrea Perry1

1 University of Waikato, Private bag 3105, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand

As our globalized world shrinks diverse cultures are in closer contact than ever before and the ability to communicate across cultural diversity, to build relationships and to achieve shared goals, is becoming a necessity in daily life. Increasing cultural diversity is represented in the NZ tertiary education context however, a significant proportion of all students are un-engaged in curriculum that supports the development of international relationships (Education Counts, 2016).

The discrepancy between the presence of cultural diversity and the absence of intentional development of international capability presents us with a challenge. How can we support the development of inter-culturally competent graduates and in fact what does intercultural competence mean in a NZ tertiary context? Evidence from students and staff calls us to do things differently. Positive interaction between international and domestic students in and outside of the classroom requires the removing of segregation and enhancing community. It also means addressing lack of willingness to interact and learn across cultures, and focusing on ongoing English language development. This paper presents some evidence based suggestions for developing intercultural communication competence for all students.


Andrea Perry has worked as an International Student Advisor at the University of Waikato since 2011. She has previous work experience in Jordan and her commitment is to the success of Middle Eastern students in NZ. Andrea has just completed her Master of Management Studies with a research project on what it means for graduates of the Management School to be inter-culturally competent.

Culture matters: How to develop intercultural competency in New Zealand organisations

Shireen Chua1

1 Third Culture Solutions Ltd, 39 Hendry Avenue, Hillsborough, Auckland 1042,

Globalisation has lead to our workplaces, universities, neighbourhoods to become increasingly ethnically and racially diverse in Aoteroa, New Zealand.  This diversity will bring increased challenges in understanding one other, building trust and working together.  However, it will also bring many opportunities.  Harnessed diversity increases creativity and innovation.

Intercultural competency is becoming an essential skill and competency not only for students and graduates but in all facets of interaction and relationship building.  Work teams are now becoming diverse.  In order to work well together, managers and team members need to understand each other, and thrive.  For those seeking to market their product, service and organisation internationally, understanding how their potential customer will interpret their information and communication will be critical to any potential deal.  Those being seconded for expatriate assignment also require training to negotiate cultures.  Cultural Intelligence is intercultural competency applied to a wider context, encompassing all aspects of culture that includes organisational culture.

This presentation will report on the research findings of a business research project undertaken as part of the author’s MBA study in 2015.  Through a comprehensive literature review and a small number of semi-structured interviews of several managers of New Zealand organisations, this report identifies the themes from the interview and the current research evidence to answer the research question of how New Zealand organisations can develop intercultural competency within their organisations.  The findings of this research has a wide range of applications both for New Zealand organisations addressing the diversity within their organisations, but also in all aspects of the business of running the organisation, from marketing, business development to HR.  The findings of this will be particularly relevant in New Zealand’s billion dollar International Education market, where this competency will be critical in the marketing of New Zealand’s Education Sector, the orientation and pastoral care needs of international students, as well as organisations that have any interaction whether it is teaching, hosting students or handling the administrative aspects in this sector.

Key Words: Cross Cultural Competency, Intercultural Competency Training, Cultural Intelligence, Diversity Training, Globalisation, Organisational Cultural Intelligence


Shireen Chua is the Director of Third Culture Solutions Ltd.  Through her background in research and management of multicultural themes, she completed a research project in her MBA in looking at organisational intercultural competency and specifically culturally intelligent solutions.  She has a training and consulting business that looks to address the diversity with fit-for-purpose solutions.  She is a certified Advanced Cultural Intelligence (CQ) trainer.  She has facilitated workshops for small and large organisations in the area of intercultural competency and cultural intelligence.

Outside the classroom: The student led experience

Krystal Agourram

Deakin University English Language Institute (DUELI), Deakin University, 70 Elgar Road, Burwood, VIC, 3125

International students, especially those in ELICOS programs, want more than just the classroom experience. They expect a holistic educational experience that prepares them not only with academic skills, but also culturally and socially so that they can confidently engage with, and integrate into, the university and the wider community. ELICOS students in particular need English to communicate, but without confidence in their ability to engage with those outside their language and cultural groups, they risk isolation and disappointment with their educational experience. To equip Deakin University English Language Institute (DUELI) students with the skills necessary for this, we offer an extracurricular program aimed at developing and enhancing leadership, communication, teamwork and social skills. The program is multilayered to provide a variety of opportunities to students dependent on where they are in their academic lifecycle. The training undertaken, skills developed and role requirements progress in complexity along the journey from student volunteer to graduating professional. Those students not wishing to participate in these programs are still able to benefit by attending the weekly social program run by the student leaders and student volunteers. Through this program we have been able to watch students’ progress from student volunteers, to student leaders, to confident professionals who feel better equipped in both their academic and professional lives and who, in turn, want to give back to the university community.


Krystal Agourram is a Student Support Coordinator at the Deakin University English Language Institute (DUELI). During her four years in the role she has worked to develop a non-academic program to enhance the sense of student community for English language students whilst also increasing their sense of connectedness with the wider Deakin community. Her focus is supporting students to develop strong social support networks and to encourage help-seeking behaviour. Prior to this role she worked overseas as an ESL teacher and managed the Student Rights and Support Service on a number of Monash University campuses.