Academic Staff Experiences of Providing Programme Leadership to Support Students

Ajail, Sondos Ziad
Youngs, Howard
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Master of Education in Educational Leadership
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Auckland University of Technology

This dissertation investigates the experiences of programme leadership in New Zealand universities, and the associated support provided to students in selecting appropriate programmes and courses. The central question addresses academic staff experiences in providing programme leadership, supplemented by inquiries into the challenges of such leadership and the effectiveness of strategies to support informed student choices. Through a combination of surveys and follow-up interviews with three survey participants, this research illuminates some of the realities of the role, the notion of being shoulder-tapped, the level of collaboration with professional staff, and the impact on student support and experience.

Key findings reveal a disparity between expected and actual role demands, leading to excessive workloads that may impede academic and support duties. Despite being selected for their exemplary student interactions, programme leaders' potential for positive student impact could be improved by more collaboration with professional staff, resulting in less misunderstandings and unsuitable programme enrolments. Additionally, although a university offers extensive support resources, the demands on leaders often prevent early engagement with students, which is essential for clarifying programme details and support systems.

Recommendations include clarifying role definitions, reassessing workload distributions, enhancing administrative support, empowering middle management, providing targeted professional development, allocating protected time for research, and establishing robust student support systems for direct interaction with programme leaders. These measures aim to align institutional goals with the capabilities of programme leaders, improve administrative efficiency, and ultimately enhance students' academic journey and outcomes.

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