About VU

Innovative approach to tertiary education

Victoria University has a deep and long-standing commitment to give any student, from any background, the chance to study and achieve their best.

Launched in 2018, our exciting new First Year Model builds on this commitment. It is designed to enhance the experience of first-year students – on a scale not seen before in Australia.

We are dedicated to improving the learning experience of our students. And we're aiming high. We want to have the highest levels of student satisfaction among first-year students of any university in Victoria by 2020.

Following the success of block mode teaching for first year, we will extend the system to all coursework degrees, beginning in 2019.

In 2019, second year students will study in block mode, and by 2020 the model will apply to all undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

First Year Model explained in 60 seconds (video)


Investing in our first-year students

We know that the transition to tertiary study can be difficult. We have been working hard to find the best way to invest in our students, paving the way to academic success.

Our experience, along with extensive research data, proves that investing in the first year is critical.

Our investment will enhance and support the first-year experience, leading to:

  • positive learning
  • academic success
  • excellent study outcomes. 

The First Year Model puts our students' needs first. It provides skills and knowledge that will help them become confident, independent learners. Our aim is to give our first-year students the boost they need to succeed in their studies and careers.


How units are taught

The First Year Model is not a change in which units are taught, but how they are taught. It is an Australian-first, innovative approach to higher education.

While VU is the first university in Australia to implement this new approach, several universities in the US, Canada and Scandinavia already use the 'block' mode teaching model with great success.

We sent a group of VU staff members to investigate block learning. They found that:

  • both students and teachers spoke very highly of it
  • students loved the immersive nature and smaller class sizes giving them the chance to really get to know their teacher and their class mates
  • teachers loved the freedom they had to teach their students in a creative and pragmatic way.

The block mode assists learning in many ways:

  • a single focus, rather than juggling multiple units with competing demands and deadlines
  • the chance to immerse yourself in each unit, learning through discussion and group interaction
  • strong and lasting peer connections formed through close contact with one group at a time
  • getting to know and be known by your educators
  • timely support from a multidimensional team
  • timely feedback
  • early success to build your confidence and motivation.

The model applies to all first-year students, domestic and international.

Find out more about how the model works for our students.

Expert planning, teaching & delivery

The First Year Model is led by Pro Vice-Chancellor, Learning Innovation & Quality Professor Ian Solomonides and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Hawkins (AM).

Together they have a world of academic experience:

  • Professor Ian Solomonides has a research background in student engagement, is a qualified and award-winning teacher, and former president of the Council of Australian Directors of Academic Developers.
  • Rhonda Hawkins (AM) is an expert in major structural change and transformation. In 2015 she was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) for her service to Higher Education and her advocacy for social justice and gender equality.

The First Year Model will be rolled out around VU's various campuses, enhanced by effective blended-learning and modern-teaching techniques.

Students will benefit from access to the best educators, specifically chosen for their first-rate expertise in supporting the needs of first-year students.

Course & unit reviews

Courses and units are reviewed each year to ensure they are the best-possible options for our students.

This remains an important part of our commitment to providing high-quality learning and teaching experiences.

When we decide which courses and units to offer, we will continue to make those decisions based on fair and careful review. We won't make those decisions on the basis of the First Year Model.

Myth-busting the First Year Model

There are some misconceptions about our First Year Model, and why we're implementing it.

We'd like to clear these up.

Here are the facts:

  • There is no common first year.
  • The First Year Model will not be a stand-alone pathways college or residential college for first-year students.
  • The First Year Model is not motivated by cost-saving, but to improve the experience and success of our students.
  • There will be no additional cost to students to be a part of the First Year Model.

Contact us

If you have questions about the First Year Model, please get in touch.

Email: firstyear.feedback@vu.edu.au.