Student services workstream

The student services stream will define the people, processes, and technologies required to implement the new operating model for student services across the university. With the new Student Service Centre at its heart, the new model will provide a student-centred, consistent, professional, and continuously improving student services ecosystem. This means engaging the right experts centrally, or at the college/faculty/ department level, to support students and ensure they have easy access to student-centric services in person, on the phone, and online.


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Student services stream approach

The student services stream consists of three main projects in order to successfully transition into the new administrative operating model:

  1. Vision for Future State & Model: The underlying project is to develop a model that clearly defines student services and identifies what work will be done, where and how, cohesively, to reflect the overall objectives of SET. This will enable multiple student services to be delivered seamlessly by the right people, at the right time, and at multiple points throughout their academic journey.
  2. Student Service CentreThe Student Service Centre is to improve the student experience by increasing awareness and accessibility to services that can support students throughout their university journey.  It will serve as the multi-channeled “one-stop shop” access point for student services. Staff within the Centre will work directly with the student to resolve their enquiry or help students navigate the system. For more information on the Student Service Centre, please refer to this article.  
  3. Initial Performance Improvement Initiatives: We have found several immediate performance improvement opportunities, including creating the Enrolment Management Centre of Expertise and service partners, creating the Undergraduate Student Recruitment Centre of Expertise, centralizing undergraduate transfer applicant admissions, and implementing the centralization of the administration and selection of undergraduate prizes, medals, awards and scholarships (see the page about RPI 16). Not only do we expect these initiatives to bring immediate performance improvements, but we expect them to inform the stream’s approach to additional transformations.

Student Services Stream Approach Timeline

  • A) Visioning B) Student Service Centre C) Initial Improvements
  • Information Gathering (until March 2021): Information Gathering. Understand student services delivery across the institution.
    • A) Discover Phase until May
      • Unified vision until May
      • Discovery workbook mid-March to mid-May
      • Redesign and plan until July
    • B) and C) Discover Phase (until April 2021)
  • Analysis and Validation (March to July 2021):
    • A) Prioritize processes to support the new organizational structure.
    • B) Develop Student Service Centre structure.
    • C) Prioritize services for improvement.
  • Transition (July 2021 onwards):
    • A) Transition people and processes into the new organizational structure.
    • B) Soft-launch the Student Service Centre and initiate continuous improvement.
    • C) Launch and implement the three proposals.

Career opportunities

To view upcoming position opportunities in student services, please check the SET Position Opportunities Page (otherwise known as “POP”) regularly. Once a position has been finalized and the competition launched, you can apply to it on the U of A Careers page.


Membership

The student services stream consists of the following project team members:

  • Melissa Padfield — Vice Provost & University Registrar, Executive Sponsor, Initiative Lead
  • Barbara Billingsley — Dean of Law, Executive Sponsor
  • Andre Costopoulos — Dean of Students, Initiative Lead
  • Andrew Hamilton — Interim Project Manager
  • Tess Lawley — Project Manager
  • Fatima Rana — Business Analyst
  • Sara Horseman  — Financial Analyst
  • Brendan Woychuk  — Organizational Design
  • Melanie Keizer — Organizational Design
  • Heather Cook — Change Management Specialist

Consultation and engagement events

  • September 17, 2021: Ask SET Anything - Student Services Edition
  • August 19, 2021: Engagement with Indigenous Graduate Student Association
  • July 21, 2021: Student Services Visioning Workshop 3
  • July 7, 2021: Student Services Visioning Workshop 2
  • June 21, 2021: GSA Council Meeting (presentation of the Student Service Centre)
  • June 8, 2021: Student Services Visioning Workshop 1
  • May 19, 2021: Engagement with Graduate Students Association
  • May 17, 2021: Engagement with International Students Association
  • May 3, 5, 7, 2021: Student focus groups
  • April 23 - May 12, 2021: One-on-one engagement sessions with key faculty stakeholders
  • March 31, 2021: Dean of Students Advisory Committee (presentation of the Student Service Centre) 
  • March 23, 2021: Students’ Council (presentation of the Student Service Centre) 
  • March 18, 2021: COSA (presentation of the Student Service Centre)
  • February 17, 2021: Deans’ Council (feedback on Enrolment Management Proposals)
  • February 11, 2021: Service Excellence Steering Committee (feedback on Enrolment Management Proposals)
  • January 22, 2021: Advisory Committee on Enrolment Management (feedback on Enrolment Management Proposals)
  • January 12, 2021: Registrar's Office Student Advisory Committee (presentation of the Student Service Centre)
  • December 14, 2020 - Feb 5, 2021: Enrolment Management Proposal working group sessions (Undergraduate Recruitment, Undergraduate Transfer Admissions & Enrolment Management Job Development)
  • November 27, 2020: Advisory Committee on Enrolment Management (service catalogue discussion)
  • November 20, 2020: Staff Advisory sub-committee (student services stream discussion)
  • November 13, 2020 - Ongoing: Weekly Student Service Centre Development discussions
  • October 26, 2020: Student Services Stream consultation workshop
  • October 23, 2020: Advisory Committee on Enrolment Management (preliminary presentation of the Student Service Centre model)
Check the UAT consultation page for upcoming events.


Frequently asked questions

With the proposed centralization of student services, what is being done to ensure that the student experience is enhanced or maintained?

It is important to note that not all student services are being centralized. Our objective is to be thoughtful and consistent with the operating model when considering how processes are streamlined and centralized through the Student Service Centre, and in other pockets of the student services stream. The Student Service Centre will aim to deliver many of our current student services, however, the Centre will also navigate students to services in other units, departments, faculties, and colleges. We expect that the Student Service Centre will support different pathways – for example, undergraduate, graduate, and international experiences. We also know that some student services will be best delivered at the faculty level.

The Student Centre won’t be impersonal — students will still be able to talk to staff members or have personalized service. The intention is that students can easily access services, get the advice they need when they need it, from one location, with updated and clear information for when and where they should be able to get support in different cases. As with any change, we know that there may be a period of disruption as we adjust to the new system, but data from other institutions that have experienced a similar transition shows that this period is temporary. As we navigate through the transition, we will deploy a student engagement plan which will involve monitoring student satisfaction with service delivery, identifying gaps and issues, and ensuring continuous improvement.

Since advisors need to be close to the programs and students, how will centralizing student services enhance the student experience?
The key objectives of our stream are to build an ecosystem that enables quality student services provided from many different locations, including the Student Service Centre, and to build a shared knowledge base that will help advisors placed anywhere in the ecosystem to advise and help navigate their students to specific services. We will work to ensure a closer connection between colleges, faculties, program-level services, and the university-wide services that we provide, while improving the holistic student experience. This approach does not necessarily mean that the service will be generic for all students; rather, we expect the Student Service Centre will support different pathways — for example, undergraduate, graduate, and international students. We also know that some student services, such as academic program advising, will best be delivered at the faculty level. Advisors will exist all over the university and although executing different purposes, they will all have a common mission to provide high level personal support to students whether in a faculty or central unit.
Will the new Student Service Centre lose the personal touch staff now offer?

The Student Service Centre will provide personalized service as students will still be able to interact with staff members. We will build on the service commitment to students that is already well-established within the Office of the Registrar and Dean of Students with a goal to enhance this already high level of service.

The intention is that students can easily find services, receive the advice they need when they need it, from one location, and with clear navigation paths for where they should be able to find support in different cases. The Student Service Centre will coordinate with the faculties and units on campus to ensure that knowledge based articles are kept up-to-date so that comprehensive and consistent information is provided to students.

In order to provide high quality service, we need more scalable services that allow for appropriate self-serve options and workflow automations where possible, so that the people available can focus on customer service and manage the workload more effectively.

As with any change, we know that there may be a period of disruption as we adjust to the new system, but data from other institutions who have experienced similar transition, shows that this period is temporary. As we navigate through the transition, we will deploy a student engagement plan, which will involve monitoring student satisfaction with service delivery, identifying gaps and issues, and ensuring continuous improvement.

What will student services look like for graduate students or students in professional programs?
For generalized or transaction-based inquiries, the Student Service Centre will support students with different pathways, such as undergraduate, graduate, transfer, professional program students, as well as international students. We recognize, however, that certain activities such as academic advising or clinical placements is best done at the faculty or program level because the advisors have specialized knowledge; it wouldn't be in the student's best interest to centralize these services. Faculties will coordinate their individualized student supports with the Student Service Centre in ways that provide a more seamless experience for students. From a student perspective, there should be no change in specialized service from their home faculty.
Will faculty/program advising be centralized into the Student Service Centre?

The management of the academic program, including academic advising, is a core academic responsibility and will remain a service offered by faculties/departments.

When will we know what student service roles will be in central positions versus positions remaining in the faculty?

There is no change to the services currently offered by the faculty offices initially, with the exception of the changes made to domestic student recruitment through the launch of the new Centre of Expertise.

There may be additional changes in the future as we continue to have the larger student services visioning sessions through SET and as the colleges determine any changes with the implementation of the Office of Education.

Where will the Student Service Centre be located?

As transitions are already unfolding and the U of A is still preparing for a return to campus, it’s likely that aspects of the Student Service Centre will initially be delivered online. The Student Service Centre will have a physical location on North Campus and will initially be housed in the Administration Building until it takes up final residence in the new Dentistry/Pharmacy centre once refurbishment is complete.

[Updated June 24, 2021]

The POP references Student Services and the Student Service Centre. Are they referencing the same area or are these two separate entities?
These positions are separated into two different categories on the POP as they will function in different areas of the new model, but all with the same goal of supporting students. Positions listed as Student Services will support the overall ecosystem and can work centrally, in a faculty, or within a Centre of Expertise. These include Service Partner positions or recruiters at the college level. Positions listed under Student Service Centre are those that will work directly in the Centre.

[Updated June 24, 2021]

If you have questions relating to the University of Alberta for Tomorrow, Administrative or Academic restructuring, visit the U of A for Tomorrow FAQ.