Our First Year Model

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

Our exciting new First Year Model, to be launched in 2018, 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.


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 you to become a confident, independent learner. Our aim is to give our first-year students the boost they need to succeed in their studies and careers.

Smaller, more-interactive classes

Our research tells us that students learn best when they learn together, with maximised access to their educators.

The First Year Model will feature smaller cohort and class sizes. It will downplay traditional large lectures in favour of collaborative and active learning. You'll benefit from effective, interactive teaching techniques such as inquiry-led and problem-based learning.  

These methods will help you to become a thoughtful investigator and problem-solver, ready to face real-world challenges in the workplace.

Our first-year students will receive exciting new benefits, such as:

  • targeted and customised academic support
  • personal goal and career guidance
  • development opportunities.

How the First Year Model works

If you’re a first-year student – domestic or international – you’ll begin your chosen course from your first year, as you would currently. It is the way the core curriculum is taught that will be improved.

You won’t study different units at the same time. Instead, your units will be taught one after the other, in a ‘block mode’. You’ll study one unit at a time, over three to four weeks, and then move onto the next unit.

Several universities North America and Scandinavia already use this method, and it works extremely well. There are already some VU courses that have adopted elements of the block mode approach, for example in College of Sport & Exercise Science and College of Business.

The block mode will help your 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.

You’ll also have fantastic chances to learn and develop.

These opportunities will be part of your block units and may include:

  • academic skill development
  • extension opportunities
  • leadership programs
  • coaching sessions.

This model applies to all our first-year students.

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:

  • The First Year Model will not be a stand-alone pathways college or residential college for first-year students.
  • There is no common first year.
  • 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.

Moving into second year

When you have successfully completed your first year, you'll move onto the second year of your course, as you would now.

If you find that your course doesn’t suit your interests or ambitions, we'll give you the opportunity and support to move into other courses.

Expert planning, teaching & delivery

The First Year Model will be led by Pro Vice-Chancellor, Learning Innovation & Quality Professor Ian Solomonides and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor 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. Our strong University community will support your learning experience every step of the way. 

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.

Contact us

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

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