Victoria University has launched a service for students that lets them "earn where they learn" by helping them find jobs on campus.
Students-as-Staff, an innovative program that recruits, prepares, and links students to University jobs, will become a featured service at VU after successful trials over the past two years.
The program is aimed at addressing challenges presented by VU's diverse range of students. They are among the most linguistically and culturally diverse in Australia, and work more than the average Australian student because of their relative financial disadvantage.
Jobs range from casual entry-level roles, such as hospitality work and customer service, to positions related to a student's studies, such as technology support or marketing. In some roles, students can fulfil requirements to receive business administration certificates while on the job.
About 200 students are now on the VU payroll, but the University aims to more than double that by next year.
VU's program was modelled on the success of a similar scheme at a partner institute, the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), which has the largest proportion of Hispanic students in America. The experience at UTEP suggests that students are more likely to complete their studies if they are able to work on campus.
At a Students-as-Staff launch held today with VU and UTEP staff, Vice-Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Harman announced she would include an incentive program in next year's budget to encourage all VU faculties and departments to hire students.
"We have already signalled to staff that a slice of next year's budget will be taken off the top for structural adjustments and strategic education which will flow back to the faculties and departments if they provide a significant and mainstream number of positions for students as staff," she said.
In an innovative extension to the program, this semester, UTEP and VU have exchanged five students each in the first of a combined study and students-as-staff exchange, enabling students who would otherwise not be able to afford it, the chance to have an international experience. Supervisors at each university will be linked by video-conference to further explore supervision and support strategies.
Professor Greg Baxter, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students and Learning and Teaching) said the program provided meaningful work opportunities for students, while VU, as an employer, obtained students' perspectives in its workforce.
"We know that students working on campus are more engaged with their studies and university life," he said. "This type of employment has the potential to become a feature of student experience across Australia, and VU is committed to being a leader in this field," he said.
Lovelesh Ramsahye, 26, from Mauritius, is studying third-year electrical engineering. He also works in VU's Student Services Centre, processing paperwork and helping other students with inquiries.
The benefits for the Seddon resident include flexible rosters based on his study load and class times, and behind-the-scenes knowledge of the University's administration.
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