STARS 2021

After a COVID-19 enforced sabbatical in 2020, the STARS Conference will return in 2021 with a 5-day online format and local opportunities for face-to-face gatherings and networking.

The Conference and its partner Journal Student Success continue their commitment to exploring scholarly practice, original research and research-informed innovations that enhance student success, with a focus on higher education students, their transitions, achievement, retention and success. In 2021, the Conference will explore policy trends in higher education internationally and nationally and will seek to influence the shape of higher education by discussing how we can influence policy and practice at institutional, national and international levels.

Across the five days there will be four keynote addresses, a plenary student panel, concurrent sessions presenting emerging initiatives, and a poster library. A concurrent issue of Student Success will publish articles based on the keynote presentations and a series of refereed papers on the Conference topics. View the preliminary program here.

Three keynote addresses will canvas international public policy perspectives, question what an optimal higher education system would look like and explore national strategies for reforming the higher education sector with a focus on how public policy can enable higher education institutions to maintain their relevance in a rapidly changing world. The fourth plenary session will be a student panel discussing the impact of uncertain public policy environments on the student experience and using their voices to provide advice about how student learning success can be enhanced. The Conference will conclude with the final keynote address which will consider how individuals can influence public policy and manage the impact of various public policies on the daily lives of academic and professional staff – through personal leadership.

In addition to the plenary sessions, concurrent presentations will showcase scholarly practice, and research-informed innovations; and a library of posters will be viewable asynchronously along with scheduled opportunities to speak synchronously with the poster authors.

The STARS Network meetings will occur prior to the Conference in early June 2021 and their discussions will provide context and generate key questions for the plenary sessions.

In 2021 the STARS Conference will continue to provide excellent opportunities for professional development for higher education practitioners and academic staff. For the last five years between 96 and 98% of delegates responding to the post conference survey said the event is assisting their university and/or the sector enhance its student experience activities. Between 97 and 99% of respondents said they would be able to apply what they learnt at the Conference in their own institution.

STARS is a strictly not-for-profit event and the Conference registration fee is priced at $350 (early-bird) to cover the costs of the Conference and continue the support of the Student Success Journal. Daily registration rates will also be available.


This conference provides the opportunity to disseminate and discuss current research, good practice, emerging initiatives and leading edge ideas that are aimed at enhancing students’ tertiary learning experiences. Discussion on a wide variety of subjects is encouraged and focuses on the following topics:

  • Students – who are they, what are their needs, what works for different cohorts, strategies for broader social inclusion and increasing participation in tertiary education, participation of first nation peoples
  • Transitions – pathways to tertiary education, transitions into (the first year experience) during (work integrated learning) and from tertiary education including graduate employability, and capstone experiences
  • Achievement – strategies promoting student achievement including curricular and co-curricular reform, employability, gamification and simulation enhanced learning
  • Retention – program, discipline, whole of institution, inter-institutional and sector collaborations designed to improve student retention, threshold skills and concepts
  • Success – student engagement, technology enhanced learning, understanding students expectations and realities, psychological wellbeing, application of learning analytics

Who should attend:

  • Tertiary teachers and learning support professionals
  • Academic and professional staff keen to enhance their knowledge and engage in discussions
  • Researchers in higher, tertiary and adult education
  • Academic and professional institutional leaders
  • Assistant and Associate Deans Learning and Teaching
  • Directors of Learning and Teaching, Students, Academic Staff Development and Digital Learning Strategies
  • Equity practitioners in Universities who are responsible for widening the participation of equity groups and supporting their transition into University study

Types of submissions:

  • Refereed Papers (HERDC-E1)
  • Emerging Initiatives
  • Good Practice Reports
  • Poster Presentations

What will you get out of it:

  • Join an international community dedicated to enhancing students experiences
  • Engage with others in discussions about the breadth and depth of learning and teaching and student support issues
  • Hear about best practice from the people involved.
  • Present and discuss your ideas with interested colleagues.
  • Gather information about successful initiatives for implementation within your institution.