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The Role of Student Services in the Improving of Student Experience in Higher Education

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Abstract

The theme of student services has been generally neglected in terms of European policy debates. However, the Trends IV(2005) Report states that: “when redesigning the curriculum that focuses on the students, the institutions should take into consideration the fact that they need more guidance and counselling in order to find their individual academic paths in a more flexible educational environment.”
P r o c e d i a - S o c i a l a n d B e h a v i o r a l S c i e n c e s 9 2 ( 2 0 1 3 ) 1 6 9 1 7 3
1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.
Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of Lumen Research Center in Social and Humanistic Sciences, Asociatia Lumen.
doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.08.654
ScienceDirect
Lumen International Conference Logos Universality Mentality Education Novelty (LUMEN
2013)
The Role of Student Services in the Improving of Student
Experience in Higher Education
Alina Ciobanu
a
*
a
PhD candidate,“Alexandru Ioan Cuza“ University of Iasi, Faculty of Psichology and Education Sciences
Abstract
The theme of student services has been generally neglected in terms of European policy debates. However, the Trends
IV(2005) Report states that: “when redesigning the curriculum that focuses on the students, the institutions should take into
consideration the fact that they need more guidance and counselling in order to find their individual academic paths in a more
flexible educational environment.”
In the context of multicultural academic diversity, stimulated by globalization, it is necessary for all aspects of university life,
student services included, to meet these new challenges. Many aspects of student life, on an academic, social or cultural level,
become more difficult to understand and manage with a population that finds itself in a state of continual growth and
diversification (Audin and Davy, 2003). To this effect, the creation of efficient student services that are focused on its
necessities, in order to provide the required support for academic activity and stimulate personal, social, cultural and cognitive
development, is needed.
The role of these student services is influenced by the beliefs and values of the employed staff, by the manner in which the
policies are elaborated, by the content of curriculum and services, and by the degree of knowledge regarding the development
of the students and the way in which the environment outlines their behaviour.
Supporting and enhancing the student experience (academic, social, welfare and support) from first contact through to
becoming alumni is critical to success in higher education today for both the student and the institution
© 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of Lumen Research Center in Social and Humanistic Sciences, Asociatia
Lumen.
Keywords: student services; student experience; higher education.
*
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: ac.alinaciobanu@gmail.com
Available online at www.sciencedirect.com
© 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.
Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of Lumen Research Center in Social and Humanistic Sciences, Asociatia Lumen.
170 Alina Ciobanu / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 92 ( 2013 ) 169 – 173
1. Purpose statement
The paper aims to emphasize the role and the importance that student services have in improving
students' academic experience, with reference to various international studies. Understanding the concept of
student services and their role contribute to the development of policies and strategies to support the academic
field, drawing the necessary directions in improving service quality in higher education. Trends V Report (2007)
shows an increase in the provision of student services in recent years. However, qualitative research results
indicate that although many academic institutions and systems offer a wide variety of services, they are not very
well developed or adapted to the needs of students that are in constant growth and diversification.
2. What do we mean by Student Services?
The student services concept is used to describe the divisions or departments which provide services and
student support in higher education. Its purpose is to ensure the students growth and development during the
academic experience. (NASPA, 2102)
Student services originated in Athenian education and universities but in the modern era is generally
recognized as an American phenomenon.
Delimiting a division of student services professionals is very well defined in some countries, but in
others remains an emergent phenomenon. Amid increasing diversity of students admitted to college, there has
evolved additional support services that have contributed to the academic and personal development of students,
including academic skills development programs and specific support to students who have difficulty learning or
adapting to university life. Such services contribute to the quality of the academic experience and help students to
achieve learning potential.
The functioning and organization pattern of student services varies from country to country. In some
countries these services are part of university management (integrated into a student services department) in
others, such as France, they are outsourced to specialized organizations (CNOUS; CROUX).
The staff working in this field are usually accredited via certification according to the position held.
Training is provided through various courses and specific programs but is not mandatory. An intense concern for
training professionals in student services is common in Great Britain and the United States, countries in which
the diversity of such services is higher. The more universities are able to invest in a wide range of services the
better they will be able to meet the needs of student development and learning, managing, among other things,
therefore to maintain a high index of student satisfaction and to reduce the level of university dropout rate.
Student services are seen as key components of many academic systems. Mass recruitment into higher
education has diversified student populations. In developing countries for example, students from disadvantaged
groups, women, rural youth and ethnic or religious minorities have now the opportunity to study at a higher level.
The student’s continuing concern is therefore necessary to ensure success in current higher education.
3. The role of the student services
Student support and services contribute to the quality of their learning experience and their academic
success. Studies show that the most important factors in education quality assurance are: quality of teaching /
learning and service systems and support for students (Hill et al, 2003). Therefore the importance of support
activities for the students is obvious but also presents the management of services with difficulties due to the
increasing number of students and their needs.
They help to decrease the university dropout rate and increase the diversity of students experience.
(Tinto, 1993). Without effective student services, students
that do not
have an academic, emotional and social
connection with the institution at cultural level are more likely to give up their studies.
171
Alina Ciobanu / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 92 ( 2013 ) 169 – 173
An important role of student services is to prepare students for active participation in society. Along
with teachers and non-governmental organizations they contribute to increased learning opportunities and
community involvement by organizing or promoting internships, experiential units or short-term experiences,
integrated into the curricula. (UNESCO, 2002).
These services take a major role in encouraging and establishing open methods of making decisions and
rationally resolving conflicts. The manner in which the policies are created, with which the decisions are made
and controversial topics are addressed, is as important as the results. The institution gives students a series of
values by the way of addressing policies, decisions and problems. (Worse, 1987).
Among the services available to students, the most important are those which meet their academic,
personal development and emotional needs (McInnis, 2004). Studies have shown that a discrepancy exists
between the range of services for students officially declared and their accessibility and practical use (Dhillon,
McGowan and Wang, 2006). For example, there is an ambiguity regarding the role of the tutor and an
inconsistency in terms of its support, which suggests that there is a need to review the practical role that it plays.
The Trends IV study (2005) reveals that in the institutions which encourage active student participation,
the implementation of reforms is more effective than in the ones where the student participation involvement has
a low level.
While student service functionality differs from one institution to another, certain expectations and
responsibilities are common to most university campuses. Some address the institution as a whole, others are
specific to students needs and interests.(UNESCO, 2009). Here are the main responsibilities for both types of
relations: student services-academic institution and student services-students, according to the UNESCO manual:
Student Affairs and Services in Higher Education: Global Foundations, Issues and Best Practices:
On relationship with academic institutions
Provides support and explain the values, mission and policies of the institution
Participates in leadership and takes responsible decisions
Evaluates the social experiences of students in order to improve programs efficiency
Establishes policies and programs that contribute to campus safety
Supports the institution's values by developing and imposing students standards
Supports the student's participation in institutional governance
Provides essential services such as admissions, registration, counselling, financial aid, health, housing
and so on, in accordance with the mission and objectives of the institution.
• Represents the institutional resource to work with students individually or in groups.
• Encourages student-university / college interaction through programs and activities
Supports and contributes to the creation of ethnic and cultural diversity
Takes a leadership role in crisis situations
Is active intellectually and professionally
Establishes and maintain effective working relationships with the local community
On relationship with students
Assists students in transition to university life
Help students to explore and clarify their values
Encourages the development of relationships of friendship and a sense of belonging to a campus
community
Assists in identifying financial aid resources in further education
Creates opportunities to expand the cultural and aesthetic horizons of students
It teaches students how to solve personal and group conflicts
Provides special programs and services for students who have learning difficulties
172 Alina Ciobanu / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 92 ( 2013 ) 169 – 173
Contributes to the understanding and appreciation of ethnic differences, racial or otherwise.
Creates opportunities for leadership development
Establishes programs that encourage a healthy lifestyle and reduces misbehaviour
Provides opportunities for recreation and leisure
Provides counselling and career guidance, helping to clarify professional goals, exploring options for
further study or employment.
4. Challenges
Among the main problems and challenges facing student services are included: internationalization in
higher education, lack of network resource professionals, lack of funds and insufficient funding, and especially
student's diverse needs and growth requirements due to increased mass recruitment into of higher education .
(UNESCO, 2009).
Universities generally support the importance of student life outside classrooms. However, many of
them do not fully address the constantly changing learning environment. Students' expectations, operational
pressures and access, demands for services and technology costs have the biggest impact so far (Haugen, 1999).
According to Haugen (1999), to be effective student services require integrated solutions with three
major components:
• Strategies based on executive vision, commitment, planning and performance. This requires resources
relocation and reorganization, and a rethinking of institutional culture reform and functioning.
• Redesigned processes focused on students and parents in the role of customers served by the university
employees (which become service providers). Although the development strategy is based on reporting best
practices, it is important that services (which copy good practices) to accommodate the institutional culture,
resources and technology.
• Efficient use of tools. Possibilities of modern technology should be exploited in a consistent manner
with the strategies, mentioned above, and implemented in a coordinated, targeted, practical and cost.
5. Conclusions
The student services value needs greater recognition, support and development in the interests of all
students.
Student services contribute to the quality of students learning experience and their academic success,
contribute as well at university dropout rate decrease and to the increase of students life diversity, encouraging
and establishing open method of making rational decisions and also resolving conflicts and prepare students for
active involvement in society. For the development of this aspects it is required that there is a focus on fostering
student involvement as both users and beneficiaries.
The role of student services is influenced by relation with higher education institution and students. The
composition of the student group, the knowledge and beliefs of academic staff and administrative staff
influences the manner and responsibility in which the student programs and services are delivered.
The World Declaration on Higher Education (UNESCO, 1999) highlights the need to develop student
services worldwide. It is imperative that higher education institutions provide services and programs that promote
the quality of student life, to meet its needs and to improve learning and success achievements.
173
Alina Ciobanu / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 92 ( 2013 ) 169 – 173
Acknowledgements.
This work was supported by the European Social Fund in Romania, under the responsibility of the Managing
Authority for the Sectorial Operational Programme for Human Resources Development 2007-2013 [grant
POSDRU/107/1.5/S/78342
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... Its goal is to ensure the students' growth and development throughout their academic experience (American College Personnel Association, 2010). According to Ciobanu (2013), many educational systems regard student services as critical components. Student populations have become more diverse as a result of mass recruitment into higher education. ...
... Students from disadvantaged groups, women, rural youth, and ethnic or religious minorities, for example, now have the opportunity to study at a higher level in developing countries. As a result, the student's ongoing concern is required to ensure success in today's higher education (Ciobanu, 2013). Student services and support help to improve the quality of their learning experience and academic success. ...
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Successful Student-Centered Services
  • E Haugen
Haugen E. (1999) Successful Student-Centered Services. Retrieved from http://www.kaludisconsulting.com/intelligence/sudent_centered.html
World Declaration on Higher Education for the Twentyfirst Century: Vision and Action
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Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition, 2 nd ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press UNESCO-United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (1999). World Declaration on Higher Education for the Twentyfirst Century: Vision and Action. Paris, UNESCO.