Wednesday, 17 Jun 2009

For immediate release 17 June 2009

University students living on campus more engaged, says AUSSE

University students who live on campus are more engaged, feel more supported, and have better general development, according to the latest briefing paper from the Australasian Survey of Student Engagement (AUSSE).

More than 25,000 students from 29 Australian and New Zealand universities participated in the latest cycle of the AUSSE. About nine per cent of the Australian students surveyed indicated that they lived on campus in a university college or hall of residence.

According to the briefing paper, Engaging College Communities: The impact of residential colleges in Australian higher education, students who live in residential colleges in Australian universities are more likely to be younger, studying full-time, in their first year, and come from overseas or a non-metropolitan area of Australia than non-residential students.

The AUSSE also found significant differences in these students’ levels of engagement and satisfaction with their university study. Students living in residence are often more engaged than non-residential students, particularly in terms of participation in active learning and enriching experiences, their interactions with staff, and their perceptions of support.

Residential students report feeling more supported in a range of academic and non-academic areas than do non-residential students. They also spend more time participating in extracurricular activities.

Differences between residential and non-residential students’ engagement grows between first- and later-year cohorts, suggesting that the effects of college accumulate over time.

“These results debunk the myth that residential colleges are tangential to the educational function of universities. For many students, residential life is seen as a formative part of the overall university experience,” says AUSSE Director, ACER Principal Research Fellow Dr Hamish Coates.

“We know that the support provided by universities to their students has a powerful effect on student engagement and retention, and on graduate outcomes.

“The AUSSE results shows that students living on campus feel more supported and engaged, and therefore are more likely to complete and excel in their studies,” says Dr Coates.

The AUSSE is conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research.

Support for this briefing paper was provided by The Association of Heads of Australian University Colleges and Halls Inc (AHAUCHI).

The briefing paper, Engaging College Communities: The impact of residential colleges in Australian higher education can be found at