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Innovation award for UCOL Student Resource Centre

Innovation award for UCOL Student Resource Centre

UCOL’s Student Resource Centre is first for innovation in annual awards by the Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics of New Zealand.

The centre, at UCOL’s Palmerston North campus, won the top award in the category of Innovative Support Services.

UCOL Deputy Chief Executive Academic Bonnie Dewart says the win is well deserved. “It is especially rewarding to be recognised for excellence by our peers within the tertiary education sector. This new success follows last year’s ITPNZ award to our Personal Education Plan – or PEP – another initiative to support our students. We place great importance on the quality of our support services and it’s great to have further confirmation of their excellence.”

The Student Resource Centre was established in 2000 when UCOL’s city campus was opened. Bonnie says it was the first of its type in the polytechnic sector and remains unique in its range of services. “Many services focus on just one area of the organisation. We wanted a cost effective, innovative centralisation of resource services that made best use of new technology.”

The centre’s core business is to manage the collection and distribution of students’ assignments from a convenient central location. Students hand in assignments which are date stamped and delivered to teaching staff. Once marked, the assignments are returned to the centre for distribution back to the students. Students are advised when their assignments are ready for collection, through a designated web page and a white board outside the centre.

Over the years the centre has grown to incorporate other services that assist staff and students alike. “This includes proving identity cards and computer logon access, distributing resource materials and study aids (including uniforms), and other study-related materials, such as bus timetables.”

Bonnie says this provides an efficient system that frees up study and teaching time. “By diverting non-teaching activities away from the classroom, the centre relieves the pressure on academic staff, so that they can focus on the quality of their teaching.”

She says as well as easing the workload of teaching staff, the centre is a factor in the success of UCOL students. “It provides a friendly, personalised element early in a student’s study experience, when many arrive cautious and even fearful of systems and bureaucracy. It allows relationship building between students and centre staff during the academic year. Students are encouraged to trust that the organisational and administrative detail will be taken care of by centre staff, leaving them free to focus on their study, increasing their chances of success.” she says.

Students and staff also made it clear in their evaluations that the quality of this service was exceptional and made a real difference to their feelings about the potential for stress in dealing with assignments.

But Bonnie says it is not just the function of the centre that makes it so valuable. “It’s the dedication of staff, including Team Leader David Jones, that makes it a stand out performer.”

In last year’s ITPNZ awards, UCOL’s Personal Education Plan – or PEP – was named Best Initiative for Improving the Student Experience.


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