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Australia’s international education sector recognises new teaching model

Vice President of Learning and Teaching, Professor Ian Solomonides, and Director of VU International, Bronte Neyland.

Victoria University’s re-invention of higher education has taken out the award for innovation at the Australian International Education Conference (AIEC), the largest gathering focusing on international education in the Asia-Pacific.

The International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) today recognised VU’s new First Year College and its block model of teaching with an IEAA Excellence Award 2018 in the Innovation category at its annual convention, which drew 1600 education professionals and government officials to Sydney.

The award, which celebrates innovation in international education, was presented to VU’s Vice President of Learning and Teaching, Professor Ian Solomonides, who is also addressing the conference about the new block model and its impact on international students.

“We set out an ambitious agenda to implement a model of teaching and learning that directly challenges education assumptions, processes and operations of University teaching to improve learning and promote student success,” he said. “This award recognises we have achieved that.”

Immediate benefits for international students

Introduced this year, VU’s First Year College uses a block model of teaching with specialised teachers and a re-written curriculum. It is showing immediate benefits for international students transitioning to a new learning environment, often in a non-native language.

With smaller classes, prompt feedback, and complementary activities such as leadership development, VU’s block model, in which learners complete one unit at a time, is proving to enhance the experiences of international students personally and academically. As of September 2018:

  • Pass rates for VU’s international students improved from an average of 86% before the introduction of the block model to over 90%;
  • 60% of VU’s international students received a High Distinction or Distinction compared to 40% in 2017, with the same assessment standards.

Steve Berridge, Vice President of Engagement, Marketing and International, said the award acknowledges the new model can overcome a fundamental challenge for international students – integration and inclusion – by allowing domestic and international students to flourish at university.

“International students feel a deeper sense of belonging from the moment they enrol.” VU inherently has one of the most diverse domestic student populations in Australia, and this model builds on our inclusivity,” he said.

The initiative, which was also an award recipient at the last month, is proving so successful it is will be rolled out across all VU undergraduate and postgraduate by coursework degrees starting next year.

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