As students start thinking about their courses for next semester, the Student Caucus is pleased to report that TRU Enrolment Services and academic advisors across campus are continuing work to improve both the advising system and how advice is given.

In the Student Budget Consultation, students identified academic advising as a priority for improvement for the past six years. Key issues over those years have included:

  • a lack of program mapping tools,
  • a lack of knowledgeability and accurate, consist advice,
  • a lack of continuity between advising points,
  • a lack timely, accessible service, and
  • a mixed service experience.

Importantly, Enrolment Services and advisors have been working hard on front-line service improvements. Efforts so far are paying off as student satisfaction with academic advising has increased in each of the last three years. Issues with access to timely service, for example, have largely been resolved. However, some students continue to report that their service experiences with academic advising are not always positive. The Student Budget Consultation Report 2019/20 made the following recommendation to improve these experiences, and TRU has responded:

Recommendation: Ensure that all advising staff are provided the appropriate working conditions, training, and support to maintain consistent service standards

    • The advising team is engaged in self-reflective planning of vision and values;
    • There is increased focus on training for new and continuing advisors;
    • There is increased connectivity with faculty and academic department advising offices to more clearly identify roles and communication channels and to better align program planning advice and resources for students;
    • There are improved web resources and greater ability for students to self-serve; and
    • A pilot has been proposed for a Peer Mentoring program to engage current senior students in mentoring other students on accessing and using tools available to plan and register

These initiatives will hopefully continue the improvement in student satisfaction that academic advising has achieved in the past three years.

Beyond the manner of service, however, a broader challenge in academic advising has been the ability to provide accurate and consistent advice. The implementation of Degree Works advising software as a solution has been planned since 2014, but has taken many years due to complications and lack of resources. Fortunately, a full-time staff position to assist with Degree Works was funded in response to the Student Budget Consultation last year. This was expected to make Degree Works available to all advisors by January 2020 and to all students by September 2020. The Student Budget Consultation Report 2019/20 recommended continued efforts against this target and TRU has responded:

Recommendation: Ensure the full implementation of Degree Works, including use by students, for all programs by the fall 2020 semester or earlier

    • Degree Works is implemented for use by advisors for 27 campus programs across 4 Faculties
    • On target to deliver a highly-reliable degree navigation tool (Degree Works) for use by all students and advisors by September 2020

To see whether and when your program advisors have access Degree Works, check out the full response to your priorities on academic advising.

To stay up-to-date on all of TRU’s responses to your priorities, check out the Student Budget Consultation webpage!