I failed Year 12, yet here I am now, Head of First Year Curriculum at Victoria University. The philosophy at VU is to help students into education and get the most out of it.
Should universities simply slam the door shut and disenfranchise people with untapped potential? That is what many do and some don’t understand or appreciate what we do.
We are giving students the opportunity to find out if university is for them, if that course is for them, if they want to move to something different here or at our Polytechnic, or if they think, 'I’m not ready now, but I tell you what, I might come back later in the year or next year'.
There are students who realise, 'yes, this is for me, I now understand what education is about and where it can take me'. And we have proudly brought them in and given them that chance to find out.
We have broken away from the traditional broadcast model of other Australian universities where academics stand on a pulpit and tell you what to do.
We get down with students and take them on a journey with us. Success for us is different to the old universities and it’s incredibly rewarding. Ours is not the same old view of what a university is.
We give every first-year student the maximum chance of mastering their units and performing well. Studying a single unit for four weeks, being assessed and progressing to the next unit is perfect for students of every ability. They are all getting immediate feedback, knowing after just four weeks exactly how they’re tracking.
Throughout the semester, we have milestones that reward success and help identify and address any problems much earlier. When you mix four units over a 12 or 16-week period at the old universities, you don’t have benchmarks along the way. You are just hit with a rush of exams at the end – and a harsh reality check.
Our way of teaching allows students to miss up to four weeks yet only miss one unit. A month-long break at the old universities due to illness, holidaying or a short-term work contract can wipe out all four units in that semester and be totally disheartening.
We are more flexible, and more in tune with the 21st century lifestyle and workstyle.
Fans and snipers alike might call us a Netflix university. An old university is the TV station of yesteryear that dictated you would watch a blockbuster like Game of Thrones on Sunday night at 8.30pm – but we give our students the freedom to choose to say yes or to say, 'no, I’m going to watch 11 episodes on Saturday, starting at three in the morning'.
We are the university that says, 'you can do more of that'. We’re about planning around you rather than planning you around us.
We’re modern, 21st century and user-driven, not producer-driven. We are flexible, fitting around your lifestyle and focused on the student, not focused on a timetable.
John Weldon is senior lecturer, author, freelance writer and award-winning media relations professional. Find John on Twitter or The Conversation.