Following the successful return the STARS face to face Conference in Brisbane last year, the 2024 Student Success Conference is being held in Melbourne to celebrate the 10th birthday of STARS. We can’t wait to see everyone again!

We know that not everyone will be able to get to Melbourne for the Conference. Funding is tighter than ever, workloads are significant, COVID is still amongst us and ‘flu season is here.

In Australia, we now have the Australian Universities Accord Final Report – which sets out a blueprint for the future of higher education. Achieving its aspirations will need all of us to work together to enhance student access and success in an inclusive higher education sector. This Conference provides a way of sharing good practices already in place across our institutions in meaningful and practical ways.

Although we know that our universities are keen to invest in the excellent value – for academic and professional staff alike – that comes from participation in conferences such as this one, sadly it is not always possible for multiple staff and students to attend.

In the post-conference evaluations, STARS delegates affirm that more than 92% return to their home institutions having learned something of significant value that they will be able to apply in practice for the benefit of the learning success of their students. And it is impossible to quantify the value of the relationships, networks and personal and professional connections that are built at Conferences such as those offered by STARS, EPHEA and NAEEA.

Some of you might be wondering why we are not offering a hybrid participation option, for some delegates to attend only online. Unfortunately, the costs of running professional hybrid events is extremely high and offering a hybrid option would significantly increase the costs for all attendees. Further, the quality of a two-four day conference experience for in-person and online participants in hybrid models is not always good. Our view is that conferences work best if they are fully online or fully in-person. Having had two years of fully online events we were buoyed by the enthusiasm you showed for the in-person event in Brisbane last year. Again, we encourage universities to invest in this experience for their staff and support those wishing to attend.

If you are not able to come to the Conference in person this year, there are still many ways you can participate as a member of the community dedicated to Student Success. Here are some ways you might like to consider:

  • Connect with someone who is attending and ask them to share their key experiences with you at the end of each day in a quick catch-up.
  • Organise a post-STARS briefing of Conference highlights at your institution with all the people who were able to attend. Here’s an example of a recent attendee’s post-Conference event
  • Make a submission to the Student Success Journal – either a scholarly article or a practice report.
  • Engage with social media – the Conference uses X (Twitter) and LinkedIn, and posts with #unistars during the event – join the conversation!