Our research

Student Support Services are committed to conducting research that will help us understand how students experience University life, in order to develop programs and resources that will assist students in achieving their educational and personal goals.

Listed below are current research topics. As further data and results become available, they will be added to this page.

Early Attrition Research Project

Under the HEPPP funding allocated to the University, a research project into early attrition of commencing undergraduate students has been initiated. Student Support Services in conjunction with the Planning and Information Office (PIO) will be undertaking the project.

The project focuses on the students who are 'lost' to the University. It will look at students who leave at some point during the first six weeks of study, and those who leave during the first six months and those who leave in the first year, and analyse these students by certain demographic criteria to determine predictors of this early attrition.
The expected outcome is that this will allow the University to determine where it should focus future efforts to improve our retention of these students.

  • The Planning and Information Office undertook a quantitative analysis of all commencing undergraduate students, using enrolment data from 2009–2011.

Track and Connect

Track and Connect is an early identification and linkage program for students studying in their first year at the University of Sydney. The program is an initiative of the Student Transition and Retention (STAR) Team within Student Support Services, with strong collaboration from three faculties - the Business School, Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Engineering & IT.

The program was first run as pilot program in Semester 2, 2012 and with significant developments, the program has run in Semesters 1 & 2 in 2013. Building on the findings and work of the Early Attrition Project, a paper for the program outcomes was submitted to SEG (Education) in August.

If you would like more information about this program or want to get involved, please contact , Student Experience Coordinator, STAR Team.

Orientation Reports

Each year an Orientation Report is created an disseminated to faculties, stakeholders and members of the Orientation Project Group.
The report reviews the current year's Orientation program in terms of successes and developments from the previous year, and looks to improvements that can be instituted for the following year. The report is a valuable tool in tracking the progress of the Orientation program.

Indigenous Grant

The Indigenous Grant was a collaborative research project between Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and the Koori Centre. It was funded by the 2009/10 initiative of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education) to “promote Indigenous education and encourage and support Indigenous students”.

The research was conducted throughout 2010 with a total of four focus groups including 32 (11.5%) undergraduate and postgraduate ATSI students then enrolled at the University. In addition, five interviews were conducted with Academic and General Staff outside of the Koori Centre nominated because of their demonstrated interest in and involvement with Indigenous students.

Recommendations included: raising awareness of CAPS among Indigenous students, enhancing service delivery so it meets the needs of Indigenous students, improving access to financial assistance for Indigenous students and an increase in the communication and promotion of services between the Koori Centre and CAPS.

ACT & Mindfulness

A series of ‘Mindfulness Training’ courses were advertised and provided for 246 students from Jan 2009- Dec 2010.

Courses were either a manualised Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) or a Mindful-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) program. Each course had 6 weekly sessions of 2 hour duration.
Sessions were provided by two therapists for up to 20 participants.

Outcomes of group treatment showed significant reduction on measures of stress, anxiety, depression and improvements on measures of mindfulness and acceptance. Qualitative results showed students enjoyed the course finding it to help them accept difficult feelings while motivating them to continue to engage in activities and values that were meaningful for them. They also enjoyed the group format - the companionship and support of participating in a shared activity while learning new skills. The results of the research have been presented in international conferences and will be the basis of a chapter in a New Harbinger publication on college mental health. The research has resulted in the modification of the original research manuals to provide shorter versions and/or spaced versions of the programs for both students and staff.

Mental Health Survey

The Mental Health Survey Report presents the results of the 2012 Mental Health Survey, conducted as a part of the Thrive Festival to raise awareness of mental health and psychological wellbeing on campus.

More than 4000 University of Sydney students participated in the survey, which looked at the mental health status and psychological wellbeing of undergraduate and postgraduate students at the University of Sydney.

The report recommends a variety of strategies to increase capacity to support students which include engaging the broad university community as well as enhancing natural supports such as family and friends.

This report is currently under peer review for publication and will be available shortly.