ENHANCING SUPPORT FOR FIRST YEAR UNDERGRADUATE FLEXIBLE LEARNING STUDENTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC

E. Naqiolevu, A. Lesuma-Fatiaki

The University of the South Pacific (FIJI)
The transition into university life is a major challenge that first year undergraduate students face when they embark in university studies. This challenge is more apparent amongst flexible learning (FL) students who have minimal face to face support. Support provision in the form of an orientation programme for students at the commencement of their studies is vital in ensuring they successfully complete their programmes. The University of the South Pacific (USP) is a regional university owned by twelve countries spread across the Oceania region. Given this geographical context, a non-fee paying and non-accredited "Success@USP" orientation programme for first year FL students was developed. It was initially designed and piloted in 2008 with a learning package that consisted of print materials supplemented with face to face sessions. It has been through various revisions in order to maintain content relevance. This programme underwent another revision in 2013 whereby the learning package was made available online. This online package was tested in six of the fourteen USP regional campuses. The online package has enabled wider access to this programme for FL students. This paper looks at FL students' experiences in the piloting of the Success@USP online orientation programme. It concludes with recommendations based on their feedback for improvement of this programme thus enhancing student support provision for the university.