Benchmarking Partnerships



2nd Place Winner- UNIVERSITY OF WOLLONGONG – PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) – Director, Sally Rogan


  • Ranked in the top 3 Universities in ‘Student and learning’
  • This Practice is an 11 year journey with significant uptake/engagement/ results and growth- see below
  • Not a remedial program – voluntarily available to all students
  • Started with core subjects with high failure rates
  • Know as ‘Supergroup’ learning facilitated by senior students
  • Students from school have trouble with self directed learning at Uni
  • Supports 3 of 6 UOW strategic goals
  • Senior Students goal is training and independent learning without giving PASS students the answers
  • PASS is aimed at reducing failure and improving retention rates
  • Research has found that students typically upon starting at Uni need to make friends within 5 weeks, so PASS help connect people in friendship whilst transferring skills and social support.


  • Typically around 15 students in a PASS group led by a senior student
  • Managed centrally helps focus deployment
  • First and second year subjects where students are transitioning in from international or TAFE and some post graduate as well
  • Looks at underpinning concepts around a task but not directly at the task
  • Strong leadership involvement from faculties.


  • Not a remedial program – available to all students
  • Mentoring – not giving answers – we don’t want you to do what you’ve seen in your own education – need to culture independent learning skills by students
  • Seamless integration of academic and social support
  • No central funding to start with – relying on faculty funding
  • Despite central funding now still retained faculty funding buy-in financially – 50:50 model
  • Needed rigorous reporting and performance evaluation to ensure ongoing faculty (self) funding


  • Students feedback that it helps them make friends / social contact
  • 50% growth in program size from 2010 to 2012
  • Growth in participation / contact hours up by 21% - 5,780 participants so far in 2012
  • Student feedback good – attendees 11 marks higher on average, non-attendees 5 times as likely to fail
  • 94% found it an enjoyable learning experience
  • UOW in top 3 of student retention stats (retention linked to PASS participation) – possible $20million in retention revenue
  • PASS leaders snapped up by industry
  • Saves students time, dynamic nature of group learning and collaboration and development of independent elearning skills – student feedback
  • Scientific evidence points to it’s the weaker students who volunteer to attend PASS


  • Other Unis are implementing PASS
  • Most awarded PEER learning program in world – only institute outside USA to win particular award
  • UOW National Centre for PASS by invitation
  • See Benchmarking below


  • Balancing of developing and quality retention


  • 11 year journey
  • Now a national program
  • Now central funding
  • Recommendations from past participants eg family members


  • Started from study trip to USA
  • UOW National Centre for PASS by invitation
  • Developing national best practice guidelines for Benchmarking – now being picked up internationally
  • 30/30 stars for education experience – VC singled out PASS as contributing to this result

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