“Students wouldn’t want that”. How adopting a new approach to understanding the student experience through a Human Centred Design lens has enabled a greater understanding of need at the University of Melbourne

Daniel Persaud

University of Melbourne, Parkville, Melbourne, Vic 3010


To identify better interventions for students who were deemed to be “at risk” at the University of Melbourne, the Academic Services team engaged the services of an external consultant to work with internal stakeholders to gain a deeper understanding of the experience of students.

The purpose of the research was to initially review the at risk processes at the University to identify improvements from a student’s perspective. By adopting a Human Centred Design methodology, the students’ needs and expectations were placed at the centre of problem-solving, before considering organisational and technological constraints or solutions. As a result of using the HCD method we identified the need to look beyond the “at risk” students and actually consider what success looks like for all.

This presentation will detail how this project has worked in partnership with students to understand the challenges they faced, how partners external to Academic Services were engaged in the work through the showcasing process, and how prototypes of potential solutions were developed with internal and external stakeholders.

To conclude we will look at how engaging external consultants to “train” internal university staff to think differently in relation to problem solving, particularly in relation to understanding the student experience can be of benefit to institutions, but we will also highlight the importance of a clear framework to enable thinking that is realistic and ideas that are achievable.



The Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association Inc. (ANZSSA) is a professional association for people with an interest in the role of support services in post secondary education. We are focused on: The quality of the student experience Supporting and empowering students to achieve their educational and life goals Enhancing student wellbeing and development Improving student success and persistence Providing outreach to students at-risk Raising institutional student retention rates For more information, please visit the ANZSSA website at anzssa.com.

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