FYE Working Group

What is the FYE Working Group and how does it work?

FYE on campus

The First Year Experience (FYE) Working Group is a University-wide group with representation from all faculties with first year programs in the University, from central units such as the University Library and Student Services, including the Learning Centre, and from the Student Representative Council.

We take a holistic, integrated approach to facilitating the enhancement of the orientation, transition and learning experience of our first year students. We do this by supporting and disseminating the work of colleagues who have particular responsibilities in these areas, and by working to create a community of practice amongst these colleagues across the University.

While we recognise the importance of understanding and supporting the specific needs of our highly diverse first year students, a key element in our approach is to ensure that diversity is valued and celebrated. We actively reject a model that associates diversity with perceived deficits in students, or focuses on how first years’ learning needs should be overcome or remediated before we are ready to invite them to become ‘full members’ of our learning community. Our focus, instead, is on how we need to modify the learning community we offer in order to develop a truly inclusive and supportive educational environment.

One of the ways we can do this is to ensure that there is significantly more explicit guidance and learning support embedded within the context of our programs and units of study and available to all students. No matter what their educational, social, cultural or linguistic background, the curriculum is the point around which students come together. We strongly endorse a model of improving learning outcomes through the engagement of central and faculty units supporting the student experience, in collaborative action with unit of study coordinators and teachers.

The FYE Working Group meets four times a year, and arranges additional activities for colleagues across the University.

More information about the group and these activities is available through our Sharepoint site. There you can find details on:

  • Current FYE Working Group members and contact details
  • Meeting dates in advance
  • Meeting notes
  • Activities and fora

If you would like to have access to this site and receive updates by email on group activities and events, please send an email to .

The History of the FYE Working Group

This group was established in 2000 as the first of a number of University-wide working groups under the auspices of the Institute for Teaching and Learning. The focus of the FYE working group at that time was to facilitate strategic planning in all Faculties and central units that dealt with first year undergraduate students. This was a key part of a major initiative to improve the first year experience in light, firstly, of emerging understandings across the sector regarding the importance of supporting students in transition to tertiary learning and, secondly, of the University’s strategic goal to attract and support high achieving students and improve retention rates.

By 2006, the strategic direction of the University had changed so that there was less explicit focus on the first year experience, and the Institute for Teaching and Learning was no longer able to facilitate the work of the group. Group members, however, were strongly committed to the value of collaborating across the institution to continue the valuable work we had begun.

Since 2006, the FYE Working Group has operated as an independent University-wide working group, affiliated with, but independent from both the Institute for Teaching and Learning and the Orientation Project Group. We meet four times a year to share experience, understandings and research on key issues of particular relevance to first years, have held two University-wide open forums, two forums involving invited guests from across the institution, and have had two successful Teaching Improvement project grants.

The new University Strategic Plan in 2011 saw a significant return to a focus on the importance of the first year experience, and the consequent establishment of a Steering Group to advise and be accountable to SEG (Education) regarding first year experience issues. The First Year Experience Working Group is strongly represented on this Steering Group, and continues to work closely with it, as well as with the Institute for Teaching and Learning and the Orientation Project Group.