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I am writing to report to you on the outcomes of the most recent student satisfaction surveys. These have provided the University with valuable feedback about the services it provides for you and informed the various changes we have made, or are making, to them. I thank everyone who participated in the surveys; you have helped us to enhance Deakin’s academic and social environment.
Briefly, both surveys showed – overall – high levels of satisfaction. Pleasingly, the second (conducted in 2009 and made available to us early in 2010) showed increased levels of satisfaction in 10 out of the 12 areas surveyed. However, concerns were revealed on some Campuses and amongst certain groups. Also, in some cases, there was a noticeable gap between the importance students place on the subject matter and their satisfaction with Deakin’s performance.
In the 2008 survey, a comparatively low satisfaction rate was expressed concerning access to library books on the Geelong Waterfront Campus and amongst international students. The Library responded by improving the availability of books and the levels of e-book publications. This saw a marked improvement in the levels of satisfaction shown in the 2009 survey.
Concerns were also expressed about the availability of Library study spaces; these have been addressed in various ways. At the Melbourne Campus at Burwood, the number of spaces was increased as part of the Library’s recent refurbishment and on the Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds additional spaces were created as part of the Library’s redevelopment. In addition, Facilities Management Services Division (FMSD) and the Library are examining ways of further increasing the number of study spaces at Burwood.
The 2008 Survey indicated a low level of satisfaction with access to computers in our Libraries. To address this situation, ten computers have been added at the Warrnambool Campus, 160 on the Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds (by the end of 2010) and 60 on the Melbourne Campus at Burwood. Further additions at Burwood have also been foreshadowed.
Some dissatisfaction has also been expressed about the provision of computer laboratories, especially during peak demand times. To address this, the Information Technology Services Division (ITSD) will install 159 additional computers by the end of 2010. Digital signage will also be introduced to indicate the availability of computers in laboratories.
Following the 2008 Survey, ITSD increased student internet quotas by 100%. Further increases will occur during 2010.
Lack of on-campus accommodation, especially at the Melbourne Campus at Burwood is a matter of concern. To address this situation, new residences providing over 400 new beds will be constructed on the Melbourne Campus at Burwood; they will be available in 2012. On the Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, a new generation of modular housing is being installed, ready for the commencement of the 2011 academic year. This will provide an additional 30 beds.
In relation to locating off-campus accommodation for students, the Division of Student Life has assumed responsibility for providing this service. The Division has increased the number of staff supporting the service, improved the online database of available accommodation and worked with landlords to improve the quality of accommodation. So far in 2010 it has housed more than 670 students and provided assistance to more than 800 students.
In 2008, low levels of satisfaction were expressed about sporting facilities, the gym and sporting equipment, especially on the Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds and the Geleong Waterfront Campus. To address this, the Fitness Club facilities at Waurn Ponds were significantly upgraded with the 2009 satisfaction levels showing a marked improvement. Nevertheless, further improvements are underway. These include sowing the Jarvis Oval with drought resistant grass and installing a new cricket pitch on one of the main ovals. A plan for further developing the main ovals at Waurn Ponds is underway and we are exploring whether it is possible to install a soccer pitch at Burwood.
Car parking has received the lowest level of student satisfaction in both surveys and is not easy to address. However, early in 2010, 120 new spaces were opened on the Geelong Waterfront Campus and work is currently underway on the Melbourne Campus at Burwood to create new spaces at several different locations. It is also planned to keep the free car park open on the Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds for the foreseeable future. Parking should also be viewed in conjunction with access to public transport noted below.
To address low levels of satisfaction with public transport to and from Deakin’s Campuses, additional information has been provided to students about alternative routes to the campuses and car pooling. In addition, the University has:
Unsatisfactory levels of satisfaction have been expressed about food services on all Campuses, although these did improve significantly in 2009. To further improve food services, a new “Food Strategy” is being developed that addresses cost, quality, cultural needs and which increases diversity and choice. On the Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, the makeover currently under way will result in improved physical spaces and new outlets being created, and the renovations of the café at Warrnambool will improve the amenity and incorporate a student bar and recreation area.
In the 2008 Survey, a low level of satisfaction was expressed about the information provided by the University concerning community groups and networks. To address this issue, a publication has been developed identifying local community groups that may be of interest to Deakin students. Further work will be done in this area as part of a general review of the services Deakin provides for its students.
Philip H Clarke
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)