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Peer-Assisted learning key to University success for thousands of students

27 Oct 2015

PASS students

Back row: Oliva Mallett, Arabella Vaughan, Ivan Li, Katherine Russett, Samantha Sing Key, Rhiannon Parker; Bottom row: Rita Mikhael, Natalie Czapski, PASS facilitator, Nithiya Sivalingam Pulle

Peer-Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) are playing an increasingly important role in learning and teaching at the world’s leading universities, according to education specialists at the University of Sydney Business School.

The number of students taking advantage of PASS at the University of Sydney has grown by around 25 per cent over the past year. Some 46 student facilitators now conduct sessions for more than 2,000 of their peers per semester in eight Law and 19 Business units of study.

“With learning and teaching becoming increasingly peer focused, PASS is now a vital part of the student support provided by the University of Sydney Business School and Sydney Law School,” said Associate Professor Leanne Piggott, the Business School’s director of Business Education.

“PASS continues to expand and lend its hand to many of those historically challenging and transitional units,” Associate Professor Piggott said.

“PASS is a unique program developed in the United States over 40 years ago and is designed for students who understand the life defining opportunities on offer and are therefore keen to maximise the benefits of a university education,” added Program Coordinator, Jessica Morr.

“PASS complements traditional tutorials or tutors with sessions that are highly interactive,” says Ms Morr. Facilitators encourage open discussion, help students to engage with course content and provide timely feedback.”

More than 1,700 universities around the world now offer PASS and staff and student facilitators from seven Asia Pacific nations – Australia, Fiji, Malaysia, China, Singapore, the United States and New Zealand – recently gathered in Melbourne to compare notes.

“At this year’s National PASS Forum, held in Melbourne, delegates explored best practice and innovation within the areas of peer learning and peer mentoring,” said Ms Morr. “It was an excellent professional development and networking opportunity for our facilitators who attended.”

The dedication of program facilitators is recognised at the annual PASS Forum via a series of awards for outstanding PASS leadership. This year the University of Sydney added two more awards to the seven it has won over the previous seven years.

For further information on the PASS program contact Jessica Morr in the Business School’s Business Education Unit – telephone 02 9114 0541, email