Student experience


The provision of academic language and learning (ALL) support to undergraduate and postgraduate students has been a staple across higher education institutions in Australia and New Zealand for some time. However, research has established that there are multiple challenges inherent to working across institutional spaces in the ways that ALL staff do. This has included ambiguity about the parameters of their roles and how they connect with staff and students as support professionals. Furthermore, how advisors respond to student wellbeing as part of the support they offer, and how their own wellbeing is accounted for at work, are not well understood. We draw on data from two recent surveys to explore how ALL advisors in Australia and New Zealand understand and respond to student wellbeing within their practice, how ALL work has been affected by COVID-19, advisors’ needs for support, and the views of managers in relation to these matters. The participants highlighted tensions related to student wellbeing, staff wellbeing, and academic support, which have either been brought about or intensified by the pandemic. As we move towards living with the pandemic, these tensions will need to be addressed by higher education institutions.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Many higher educators, including academic language and learning advisors, are expected to attend to student wellbeing. However, what this means in practice is often unclear.
  2. Staff have different understandings of what attending to student wellbeing involves.
  3. In considering how to respond to students' wellbeing needs, institutions should take into account staff workload, the boundaries of professional roles, and staff support.

Twitter Handle

@LauraGurney_PhD @vittoriagrossi