Wraparound support for every tertiary student in new Code of Practice
‘One thing on top of another‘ meant Ara student Annette McIntyre needed to reach out for help to Ara’s student support services.
After years of difficult personal and health problems, a minor traffic accident at work triggered her to get the help she needed through Ara’s broad range of services.
“Even as a part-time, non-fee-paying student I was eligible for health services, financial support, and free counselling,” says McIntyre.
“I started off being treated for my damaged knee in the osteopathy clinic, but it soon became clear that I had other needs too.”
The 55-year-old mother of four supports two of her adult children and her husband, who is on a disability benefit, plus she also studies and works part-time as a bus driver.
“I was just so busy all the time that I kept brushing my own needs aside. Then, the osteopath suggested I use the Ara gym - I loved being back in the gym again. The personal coach thought I could use some nutritional advice to help control my diabetes. And then there was the counselling for just coping with all the stress I was under. Later, I was offered disability support services to help me deal with the noise levels in the classroom. So these different departments aren’t just sticking to their own service, they’re looking at how they can help elsewhere too.”
At the start of 2022 New Zealand’s Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of Tertiary Students came into effect, outlining new requirements for student support at NZ tertiary institutions.
Ara’s Director of Ākonga Success, Tracey McGill, says Ara addresses student needs by taking a whole-of-person approach.
“We’ve always had very strong learner support services,” she says. “The new Code of Practice gives us more reasons to keep getting this right. We know that everyone in the institute – from tutors and course leaders, to clinicians and business support colleagues - play a key role in bringing this to life for our learners.”
McGill says that while some of the requirements are new to Ara, that “much of what we were already doing will now be measured, monitored and reported on.”
Another requirement of the Code of Practice is the need for students’ perspectives and input into all aspects of decision-making at tertiary institutions. Student Life Manager Angus Howat says this is about more than just agency in deciding what programmes they want to study.
“It’s about how they want to engage with the institution, what the services they use look like, and how to best connect with every part of Ara in terms of their access,” says Howat. “It’s being respectful of the wants and needs of the students as vital voices in our institution – as partners in the shaping of what Ara is and what it should become.”
For Annette McIntyre, having a wraparound set of services helps her to focus on other aspects of her life. “Just knowing that the support is there helps me to keep going. Instead of concentrating on my injured knee, they looked at the rest of me too. Ara has been very responsive to helping me out when I needed it. Those services are there for me to use.”
On the way to overcoming several key obstacles this year, McIntyre’s advice to other students is clear. “If you're struggling, for whatever reason, talk to your tutor or reach out to student support - because there is help out there,” she says.