About First Year Experience (FYE)

How to use this site               The role of coordinator              Who is this site for?

Who is this site for?

This website is an initiative of the FYE Working Group at the University of Sydney. Its ultimate purpose is to improve the learning experience of our first year students, particularly those in our undergraduate programs who are new to tertiary learning. Rather than addressing first year students directly, however, the site is designed to support coordinators of the units of study in which those students are learning. It is thus the coordinator, rather than the student, who is the target user.

In some faculties and departments, one academic is responsible for coordinating a suite of first year units or an entire first year cohort, while in others, each unit of study (UoS) has its own first year coordinator. This site is relevant to colleagues with responsibilities at all of these levels. There are also some parts of the site that will be useful to all those teaching, tutoring or in other ways supporting first year students, even if they do not have coordination responsibilities.

The role of coordinator

Coordinating first year classes is one of the most challenging and important roles that university teachers can undertake. It can also be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding. When it comes to our first year students, we can and should aspire to excellence in our curriculum, teaching, administration, and support services.

As a first year coordinator, you play a key role in assuring the quality of the academic programs in your department and faculty, and in supporting your students’ success at university. The role is a very comprehensive one; in fact, this entire website reflects the range and diversity of the activities and responsibilities involved.

There are many outstanding and supportive resources for coordinators already provided by the University, and available through other sites. However, the amount of material can, in itself, be overwhelming. The challenge is to know where to find all the resources, which of them should be prioritised or focused on, and when each one will be most useful to you.

This website has been set up with this challenge in mind. It is designed as a hub or portal to bring together all the information that you, as a first year unit of study coordinator, might need, not only for designing and teaching your unit, but also when it comes to administration issues and support for your students, for the other staff in your teaching team, and for yourself.

The site is also designed as a place where those who are experienced in first year teaching and coordination at Sydney can share their expertise, ideas and suggestions with each other, and with those who are new to the University or to the role of coordinating first year units.

The idea is to make it easier for you to access the information and support you need, and thus to reduce your stress and increase your efficiency and effectiveness as a coordinator. In turn, this will help you enjoy the experience even more, and better support your students’ learning.

How to use the website

In addition to using the search function, which we have tried to make as comprehensive as possible, you can access the information in this site in two main ways: The Fast track is the menu at the top of our front page and the Timeline sits below this.

Use the Fast track links to select from a list of ‘hot topics’ that colleagues at the University of Sydney have identified as key issues for first year coordinators. These links will take you directly to the relevant item. This is designed for those situations where you are short of time and need information quickly.

Below the Fast track is the Timeline. This organises the information according to the way a coordinator would approach their teaching semester:

  • Before semester deals with issues around UoS design and planning, administration, and the support that you need to access and arrange, even before you begin teaching. The most experienced coordinators advise that good preparation at this time is crucial for a great semester.
  • During semester comprises the information and resources that you will need once teaching begins. First year coordinators at Sydney say that they find this time the busiest and most stressful part of their job. We hope the ideas here, in combination with those offered Before semester, will help things go as smoothly, productively and enjoyably as possible for you, your team and your students!
  • After semester addresses topics that are more relevant once the teaching year is winding down and exams have begun. However, this is a time when the responsibilities of a coordinator are winding up again! At this time too, we hope the information and suggestions in this site will be supportive and helpful.

You will find a menu at the top of each information page. This lists the topics on that page according to three main areas: Administration, Learning & Teaching, and Support. The Support area relates to support for you, as a coordinator and teacher, support for colleagues in your teaching team, and support for your students.


The First Year Experience Working Group would like to acknowledge and pay respect to the traditional owners upon whose ancestral lands the University of Sydney is built. As we share our own knowledge, teaching, learning and research practices within this university, may we also pay respect to the knowledge embedded forever within the Aboriginal Custodianship of Country.

The development of the site was generously supported by a Teaching Improvement and Equipment Scheme (TIES) Grant from the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor and Registrar, Derrick Armstrong.

The creation of this site has been a wonderfully collaborative process, involving colleagues from across the University in professional, administrative, academic and support roles. Thanks to everyone who contributed in so many ways to this project!

We would particularly like to acknowledge the contribution of the following people:

Project Director
Nerida Jarkey

Project Management
Sheridan Kennedy

Primary Content Development
Nerida Jarkey
Sheridan Kennedy
Michele Scoufis
Lorraine Smith

Expert information and editing
Julia Adams (Learning Solutions consultant)
Peter Ampt (Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources)
Nitsa Athanassopoulos (Careers Centre)
Rick Benitez (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)
Adam Bridgeman (School of Chemistry)
Belinda Chambers (Faculty of Education and Social Work)
Chris Chapparo (Discipline of Occupational Therapy)
Henrikka Clarkburn (Business School)
Crystal Choi (University Library)
Gareth Denyer (School of Molecular Bioscience)
Julie Doherty (Careers Centre)
Dale Hancock (School of Molecular Bioscience)
David Jessup (Web and Print Production)
Irena Koprinska (School of Information Technologies)
Tim Lever (Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies)
Melinda Lewis (Sydney Nursing School)
Oleksander Motyka (Web and Print Production)
Peter O’Carroll (Learning Centre)
Caleb Owens (School of Psychology)
Nicola Reade (Learning Solutions, Human Resources)
Philomena Renner (Counselling and Psychological Services)
Irene Rossendell (University Library)
Charles Stott (Disability Services)
Lucy Taylor (Institute for Sustainable Solutions, Business School)

Planning and Site Design
Angela Ardington (Learning Centre)
Nerida Jarkey (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)
Sheridan Kennedy (FYE project officer)
Cynthia Nelson (Institute for Teaching and Learning)
Peter O’Carroll (Learning Centre)
Michele Scoufis (Business School)
Lorraine Smith (Faculty of Pharmacy)

Web Development
Benjamin Keats (FYE web assisstant)
Sheridan Kennedy (FYE project officer)

Advice and support
Jordi Austin (Student Support Services)
Simon Barrie (Institute for Teaching and Learning)
Kathryn Bartimote-Aufflick (Institute for Teaching and Learning)
Rafael Calvo (School of Electrical and Information Engineering)
Stephen Cattle (Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources)
Phil Chaplin (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)
Melanie Collier (Faculty of Veterinary Science)
Alex Eapen (Discipline of International Business)
Catriona Elder (Department of Sociology and Social Policy)
Graham Hendry (Institute for Teaching and Learning)
Janet Jones (Learning Centre)
Benjamin Keats (FYE web assisstant)
Ian Maxwell (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)
Tim McCarron (Media and Communications)
Cynthia Nelson (Institute for Teaching and Learning)
Andrew Phillips (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)
Deborah Rodrigo (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)
Michael Rosas (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)
Charlotte Taylor (School of Biological Sciences)
Fran Waugh (Faculty of Education and Social Work)
Tim Wilkinson (School of Civil Engineering)

And special thanks to all the wonderful members of the FYE Working Group, past and present!